Bob Melrose, one of the most familiar voices on KCBS 740/106.9 over the years, has retired after 36 years on the air. The Contra Costa Times ran a profile of the 61-year-old Melrose yesterday and here’s a few grafs from the story KCBS and CBS5 did announcing his retirement on April 12:

    Melrose has raced to the scene of news events so often, and his live reports have become so much a part of KCBS, that many were incredulous to learn he would enter retirement once his last story was filed on Thursday. 
    “You’re telling me that Melrose is retiring? You’re kidding. Melrose?” said former KCBS reporter Bob Safford when he learned the news. 
Bob Melrose (CBS5 photo)
    Melrose managed the deadlines and daunting logistics of live radio to deliver news as it happened. For 36 years, his squeaky tennis shoes and ancient Sony TCM-5000 tape recorder have been a reliable presence at press events all over the Bay Area. 
    “He truly personifies the old-time newsman. He lives it. He breathes it,” said Rita Williams, a veteran television reporter at KTVU-TV who worked closely with Mel, as he is affectionately known, for decades. 
    “They used to call us the Odd Couple. Bob and I shared an office at the Hall of Justice press room for 20 years,” she said. 
    Mel was not the Felix Unger character, but his dedication to news has been impeccable and constant. Williams said it’s no secret that he slept with a scanner to make sure he was never far from the news, whenever and wherever it happened. 
    “He’s trained himself. While he’s sleeping, I think that he can pick up when there’s excitement in the voice of a dispatcher and he awakes. And he runs out and covers a story,” she said. 
    Melrose arrived at KCBS in the mid-1970s, a San Jose State University graduate with experience at a number of small town Northern California radio stations. He went on to cover every imaginable beat, from presidential visits to the murder of Polly Klaas. 
    Melrose and Williams served as media witnesses to the last gas chamber execution at San Quentin when serial killer David Mason was put to death on Aug. 24, 1993. 
    “I will tell you that that was a very traumatic time. Bob and I held hands during part of that process as we have our pencils and are taking our notes,” Williams recounted. 
    That experience shook even a gruff reporter who knew his way around crime scenes and the courthouse. 
    “When I left the gas chamber to come out across the way to where they had us frisked and everything, I thought, my God, you just saw a man die,” Melrose said later. 
    Melrose was a radio reporter through and through. That usually meant plunking himself down front and center at a news conference to make sure he got the best quality sound he could. And a lot of times that meant a cameo appearance on television or the front page of the morning newspaper.

Bay Area Media News

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