Ackerman’s radio career began in Sacramento, where he “got the radio bug” while attending Grant Union High School. In 1942, he landed a job at KQW. At the time, the station was still licensed to San Jose, requiring some programming to originate there. Ackerman spent time in the San Jose studios as well as KQW’s San Francisco studios.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle’s Carl Nolte in 2009 that he remembers doing live broadcasts of big bands — Muggsy Spanier at the Bush Garden, a jazz band at the Mocambo, Del Courtney, Desi Arnaz, Ray Noble or Bob Crosby and his Bobcats, “live and direct for your listening pleasure from the Rose Room at San Francisco’s famous Palace Hotel.” Some of those live broadcasts would be distributed nationwide.
We awake today to the sad news that Al Hart has passed away at the age of 88. A longtime member of the Broadcast Legends, Al came to the Bay Area about 55 years ago from KEEL in Shreveport, La., to work at KABL (960 AM) before moving to KNBR (680 AM).
But it was at KCBS Radio a few years later that he hit his stride, becoming perhaps the most iconic voice on this iconic station’s staff. Al arrived at KCBS in 1966, and was part of the team that transformed the station in 1968 to the all-news format that continues to thrive there to this day.
Before moving to his role as morning co-anchor on KCBS, Al had been working afternoon drive on the station. Following his retirement, he continued to be a welcome voice on KCBS, appearing with current morning co-anchor Stan Bunger on the weekly Wednesday chats with John Madden — always bringing along a batch of his signature snickerdoodle cookies, as well as the latest ruminations from Charlie The Checker.
Al Hart was a charter inductee into the Bay Area Radio Museum & Hall of Fame in 2006, and was an up-and-coming Mercury Records recording artist in the early 1960s. One of numerous Minnesota transplants to find fame and fortune in Bay Area radio — Jim Lange, Don Bleu and Bobby Dale included — Al was a proud University of Minnesota Golden Gopher.
Al will be missed, fondly, by everyone who had the opportunity to work alongside him, or spend a few minutes hearing his warm voice on the radio. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his wife, Pat, and to all of Al’s friends, family and colleagues.