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KQRS morning host Tom Barnard announces retirement

The classic rock FM giant confirmed Barnard's pending departure Thursday on its social media platforms.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: The video above aired on May 2, 2017.

After more than three decades as a dominant Twin Cities radio presence, KQRS morning show host Tom Barnard will soon be stepping away from the microphone. 

Barnard announced the news on the KQ morning show Thursday, and the station elaborated on its social media platforms that he will be retiring at the end of the year, with his final show just before Christmas. 

"Join us as we celebrate Tom throughout the rest of the year until his final Morning Show on Dec. 23," a Twitter post reads. "You're the best in the business, Tom. We wish you all the best in your next chapter!"

An inductee into the National Radio Hall of Fame, Barnard started with KQRS in 1986, quickly making the KQ morning show a broadcast powerhouse. His cast of sidekicks has rotated through 36 years on the air with Barnard's gruff, outspoken persona as the constant. 

His low, resonating voice also made Barnard into a national voice-over star, keeping him in high demand for television and radio commercials. 

Barnard grew up on the north side of Minneapolis, and his nostalgic stories of a hard-scrabble upbringing by his mom "Toots" are a reflection of Barnard's everyman approach to life on the American landscape. 

"Hometown hero Tom Barnard has defined morning radio stardom for the better part of many Minnesotans’ lifetimes," said CUMULUS Media VP of Content and Audience Brian Phillips. "He is the mastermind behind tens of thousands of hours of laughter, irreverence and thought-provoking conversation. We thank Tom for the glory he has brought KQRS during his remarkable run.”

The KQ Morning Show was the 500-lb gorilla of the Twin Cities airwaves for decades, dominating in both overall listenership and key demographics coveted by advertisers. But in recent years those ratings have slipped, and the show has been plagued by controversial departures of popular cast members like sidekicks Terri Traen, Brian Zepp and Michele Tafoya. KQRS ranked 10th in listenership in Nielsen's May 2022 ratings, according to radio-online.com. 

Besides his place in the National Radio Hall of Fame, Tom Barnard was inducted into the Pavek Musuem honoring legendary Minnesota broadcasters.  

RELATED: Popular KQRS co-hosts out

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