David Brudnoy

Talk radio star

BOSTON — David Brudnoy, one of Boston’s most recognized talk radio voices for more than a quarter of a century, died Thursday night, Massachusetts General Hospital officials said. He was 64.

Brudnoy, whose soothing voice could be heard every weeknight in 38 states and in Canada on WBZ-AM since 1986, told listeners last year he was suffering from merkel cell carcinoma, a form of rare but treatable skin cancer. He had already lived with AIDS for more than a decade, beating a viral infection that nearly took his life in 1994.

He died of renal failure from the carcinoma, with his friends at his bedside, according to a statement from the hospital.

In a poignant on-air interview from his hospital bed Wednesday, Brudnoy announced the cancer had spread into his liver and kidneys, and that he was ready to die.

“I am not asking my doctors to do anything illegal,” Brudnoy said. “I wish I could but they won’t. I will make it through. My head is completely accepting of this. I am absolutely ready.”

He left his show in November of last year to fight the cancer, recovered and returned in March, interviewing Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura in his first night back. His voice was noticeably more hoarse.

“We’re guaranteed nothing in life except life itself, and what we get is an adventure, not always a happy one but always a learning experience as well as, like now, a time of fear and maybe even (I hope temporary) despair,” he said at the time.

Brudnoy was hospitalized again this month, and his condition deteriorated quickly.

Edward Jordan, general manager of WBZ, said he sat with Brudnoy on Wednesday in his hospital room, and while Brudnoy laughed and joked with him, he said he was “ready to go.”

Jordan said he considers Brudnoy, who always treated his listeners and callers with respect, “the best talk host in America.”

“So many talk hosts in America are trying to shock someone or trap someone, Jordan said. “He always did his show with such a sense of class. That’s what he was right to the end.”

After his final interview aired, elected officials including Sen. Edward Kennedy and Romney joined radio listeners in calling to offer remembrances and thanks.

Though best known for his broadcasting career, which started in 1971 at WGBH-TV in Boston, he also wrote movie reviews for suburban newspapers and lectured at a number of area colleges, most recently at Boston University. His articles have been published in The New York Times, National Review, TV Guide and New Republic.

Brudnoy started his talk radio career at WHDH-AM in 1976, then moved to WRKO-AM in 1981.

His memoirs published in 1997, “Life is Not a Rehearsal,” chronicled his battle with HIV.

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