Monday, July 6, 2015

7.6.15 Hero of the Day: Dave Barber

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Name: Dave Barber
Age: was 60
Occupation: former radio and TV personality
Last Seen: in the heavens singing with Frank and Sammy

Awarded For: being a talker for the people
Last week, many were praying for the safety of former Flint, MI talk radio host Dave Barber after he suffered a stroke and heart attack while enjoying dinner with family.

But, the good lord decided that despite only 60 years on this Earth, it was simply time for Dave to count his tips and go home.

Losing a firebrand like Dave at such an early age is nothing short but heartbreaking. Even worse, he died on the 239th anniversary of America's founding. Dave was a fighter for the long-suffering people of Flint and America as well, especially when the 2002 MLB All-Star Game ended in a 7-7 tie all because they ran out of pitchers. He threatened to sue Major League Baseball, but dropped the case due to financial issues. He even did a full show bashing embattled mayor Woodrow Stanley, who was recalled.

Unlike most AM talk show hosts, Dave leaned left. He sung the praises of President Clinton and supported Governor Jennifer Granholm. He spent his career on several different stations in the Flint area and was even syndicated on the Michigan Talk Radio Network in the early 2000s. It was because of MTRN that I was exposed to Dave and was even a frequent caller to his show. I (accidentally) told him about in a letter I wrote him about the American Family Association and he became a fan. Even more, he bought me lunch at his favorite "breakfast nook" in Grand Blanc, Khios Island. It was fun meeting up with the guy, who had a big ass bandage on his chin from shaving. He told me about working in northern Michigan, which he felt sucked because of the frozen tundra. He also felt that I could have been a great reporter for a trade mag, like FMQB or RadioInfo.

I met Dave again at the Admiral Tobacco at 28th and East Paris here in Grand Rapids when he was doing his "BUTTS" campaign, aka Barber Uplifts Troops Through Smokes. He helped to donate hundreds of cartons of cigarettes to our troops in Iraq since they weren't allowed to have porn or many things that helped calm them down. I tried to help him get a piece of equipment at the local Radio Shack, but unsuccessfully did so, but oh, well. He still did his show and his loud mouth did startle a few customers.

Of course, Dave left MTRN over their lack of payment. He returned to Flint radio for a short time on WWCK 1570 before heading out to Providence to handle mid-mornings on WPRO-AM 930. In 2008, he ventured into TV as a reporter and host on Capitol TV, the state's C-SPAN-like network.

He returned to Michigan on June 25th to attend a friend's wedding. It was on that date when he made his final Facebook post: "Thanks to my friends in Flint Mi for even remembering me." Even though his new home was Rhode Island, he still had a place in his heart for The Auto City, a town he saw turn from a robust, blue-collar town to a sad center for crime thanks to GM closing plants left and right. Amazingly, Dave died in the state he was born in with family by his side. It might be a pure miracle since Dave was divorced from his sole wife, Anastasia and had no kids.

Billy Joel said it best: Only the Good Die Young. While the AM band is loaded with talkers who all seem to be minions for the Republican Party, Dave stood out like he - in his own words - had more chins than a Chinese phonebook. He used his gift of gab to help change society for the people of Flint. He held lawmakers and the corrupt accountable and most of all, he was thought-provoking. Even though he hadn't hosted a radio talk show in years, people will always remember him as a champion for the people, and may God bless him for it.

A man of many catchphrases, one of Dave's favorites was "I go to the round church so Satan can't corner me". I hope and pray that strategy worked.

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