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.