KQ's Tom Barnard says he's taking leave, entering treatment

PAUL WALSH | Updated 3/29/2013

The king of morning radio DJs in the Twin Cities told listeners of his plans Friday.


Carlos Gonzalez

Tom Barnard, the longtime king of morning radio DJs in the Twin Cities, told listeners Friday that he’s taking a break from the airwaves and entering treatment for substance abuse.

The 61-year-old KQRS host (92.5 FM) said that drinking wine and taking pills to help him sleep and wake up were part of what led him to this decision, as well as to better handle his anger.

That anger apparently spilled out overnight on Twitter, with Barnard expressing in profanity-punctuated terms, “I think I’m done. They don’t support me.” It was not clear whose support he was speaking about.

“I wouldn’t want to be in a situation where I either croak or I hurt someone really badly,” Barnard said on the air of the classic rock radio station. “I just go through periods I just cannot sleep at all.”

Turning to humor, Barnard added that “one negative thing about this decision, when I meet Howard Stern I won’t be able to punch him in the face.”

Barnard said he’s “absolutely committed to do this, or I wouldn’t be talking about it on the show.” He did not say when his leave will start or how long it will last.

“The main thing for me is I just want to calm down, man,” he said.

Barnard, married and the father of two, said on Facebook in July that he signed a four-year extension with the station. Also last summer, he started hosting a free podcast — one-hour episodes, five times a week — leaning heavily on his roster of comedian friends.

“I’m not going to want to get up at 4 a.m. in the morning for the rest of my life,” Barnard said at the time. “I can’t see myself being on the radio for more than 10 years. But podcasting? That’s something I can do for the rest of my life.”

For more than a quarter-century, Barnard has ruled the Minnesota airwaves with a steady stream of potshots at dumb criminals and politicians and the occasional ethnic faux pas that has angered blacks, Asian Americans, American Indians and others.