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Chicago radio icon Les Grobstein, whose career in broadcasting spanned over 50 years, has died at the age of 69.
Grobstein was the overnight host on WSCR radio, and he served for a decade as the station's sports director. However, he was best known as the person who captured the legendary profanity-laden rant by Cubs manager Lee Elia on his tape recorder after a difficult loss in 1983.
"What the (expletive) am I supposed to do," Elia said, "go out there and let my (expletive) players get destroyed every day and be quiet about it? For the (expletive) nickel-dime people who turn up? The (expletive) don’t even work. That’s why they’re out at the (expletive) game. They oughta go out and get a (expletive) job and find out what it’s like to go out and earn a (expletive) living. Eighty-five percent of the (expletive) world is working. The other fifteen percent come out here."
Warning: The following audio clip contains obscenities. Lots of them.
Grobstein was one of four reporters present in the manager's office when Elia exploded after a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers that afternoon dropped his team's record to 5-14.
In a 2018 interview with The Athletic, Grobstein recalled how he insisted a producer at WLS radio record a copy of Elia's comments for Grobstein's show later that day, even though the station wasn't allowed to play tape live on the air:
"I called into our production studio and our engineer, a woman named Renee Tondelli who now lives out in L.A., I called her and said, 'We’ve got to roll tape.' She says you know we can’t do that. I said, 'Just shut up, roll tape and comment after you hear this.'
A stunned Tondelli recorded and edited the audio, bleeping out the profanities, and the rest is radio history.
Long before "going viral" became a thing on social media, the Elia recording soon made its way around press boxes and radio stations nationwide.
It also became a staple of Grobstein's radio broadcasts. Every April 29, he would mark the anniversary of Elia's rant by playing it on the air – often against the objections of station management.
A Chicago native, Grobstein got his start in broadcasting calling Northwestern University men's basketball games. In addition to WLS radio in Chicago, he also worked for CBS radio, Sportsphone Chicago and WSCR, "The Score."
Les Grobstein was one of the few absolute constants in my life as a Chicago sports fan. His recall and passion for the games, players and coaches were unmatched. He was 1-of-1. RIP my friend. pic.twitter.com/tGXPB5G0LS
— Pat Fitzgerald (@coachfitz51) January 17, 2022
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Les Grobstein, a legend among Chicago sportscasters, dies at 69