One of the most consistent voices in the Bay Area radio sphere of the last three decades, Michael Krasny, has just announced that he will relinquish the program he hosts and retire in February.
Krasny has been a fixture in the local media going back to the 1970s, when he hosted a program on a Marin County station called "Beyond the Hot Tub" — as if a 1970s Marin County talk show could ever be called anything else. He later worked for KGO-AM and ABC 7, and took the job as the host of "Forum" on KQED in 1993. As the Mercury News notes, with his doctorate in English literature, he soon earned praise as "the thinking person’s talk-show host" among local journalists.
"Michael is a Bay Area jewel," said KQED Chief Content Officer Holly Kernan, in a statement. "His is a model public service career and he has brought depth, compassion and the expertise of a literature professor to the airwaves on a daily basis. Forum shows how a regional public affairs program can serve listeners with reasoned and thoughtful dialogue that cuts across so many disciplines and important issues."
Krasny will retire on February 15, 2021, which is 28 years to the day that he started in the job at "Forum."
"I like the symmetry of going out on the anniversary of the day I started,” he tells the Chronicle today. "I’ve always liked Mark Twain’s comment that age is mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it shouldn’t matter. But I turned 76 in September and realized that age does matter."
Krasny is known for his cogent and thoughtful interview style, and a voice that expresses both the wisdom of his years and a particular type of West Coast intellectual engaged with many subjects. And his experience as a teacher likely helped in fielding calls from Bay Area residents on the call-in show — some of whom aren't always so calm, collected, or cogent.
Some of his notable interview subjects over the years include former President Jimmy Carter, President Barack Obama, Cesar Chavez, Rosa Parks, Noam Chomsky, Francis Ford Coppola, Jerry Garcia, Allen Ginsberg, Werner Herzog, John McCain, Toni Morrison, Salman Rushdie, Bernie Sanders, and Camille Paglia.
In his 2007 memoir Off Mike: A Memoir of Talk Radio and Literary Life, Krasny revealed that he still had not achieved his own personal dream of literary success. But over the years he established himself as an ace conversationalist with literary greats and political figures alike, both generous and always in control of the conversation — no small feat in itself.
As local author Michael Chabon said of him in a blurb on the book, "Michael Krasny sets the standard by which all public affairs and cultural radio is measured. He is a Bay Area institution."
"Forum" remains a popular program, drawing about a quarter million weekly drive-time listeners and another 70,000 online according to KQED. And the station says it will now conduct a "thorough national search" for Krasny's replacement.
Michael Krasny has announced he will be retiring from KQED on February 15th, 2021 - the anniversary of his 28 years in the host seat at KQED Forum.— KQED Forum (@KQEDForum) November 9, 2020
Please join us in congratulating Michael for his extraordinary public service career. pic.twitter.com/uHmEGRZps9