Charlotte radio legend Robert Raiford dies at 89

Broadcaster Robert D. Raiford died Friday. He was 89. 

Raiford spent more than 70 years on the airwaves. Listeners nationwide got to know him as the resident "curmudgeon at large" on the Charlotte-based "John Boy and Billy Big Show."

“Bob Raiford had the mind of a well-read intellectual, trapped in the body of a grumpy old guy who holds court at the end of the counter at Waffle House. He was a fan of Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra, but could command a rowdy crowd at a bar with a heartfelt rendition of “Dixie.” He could talk about anything, because he’d done a little bit of just about everything. He was a huge part of what made The Big Show a success, and it was a real privilege to know and work with him for the past 30 years," John Boy and Billy released in a statement.
"Raiford did just about all one person could do in his lifetime, except act his age. He was a broadcaster, actor, pilot, parachutist, motorcycle enthusiast and bungee-cord daredevil all the way into his 80’s — and he fought to the end as we expected.”

Raiford started broadcasting in 1944 on WEGO AM 980 in Concord, NC where he did play by play for the Concord Weavers, a minor league baseball team. He went on to work at several locations across the country before eventually returning to Charlotte. Then for more than 30 years, Raiford was known as the news ‘Curmudgeon’ on the John Boy & Billy Show on 99.7 The Fox in Charlotte.

He suffered a stroke in 2015 that partially paralyzed him, which resulted in his retirement. Raiford is survived by his wife Kelia and his children.