Former KSBY anchor Rick Martel dies

February 18, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-02-18 at 10.29.35 PMLongtime San Luis Obispo County broadcaster and performer Rick Martel died Tuesday. He was 83-years-old.

Martel, who had been suffering from poor health for the past few years, spent 15 years as an anchor at San Luis Obispo television news station KSBY.

The longtime anchor characterized himself as more of a personality than a journalist. Martel worked as a singer during his early years in the Air Force, as well as in Hollywood and later in San Luis Obispo County nightclubs.

Born in Kansas City, Martel worked in broadcasting in San Diego and had the opportunity to move into the Chicago market, but opted instead to move to San Luis Obispo County. He made that decision after visiting in-laws in Morro Bay.

Martel left KSBY amid a contract dispute as News Corp boss Rupert Murdoch’s daughter, Elisabeth Murdoch, briefly took over the station. Martel quickly found work at KCOY, but he lasted a little more than a year at the rival news broadcaster.

He then settled in as a late-night entertainer in the county and the host of The Rick Martel Show, which aired three nights a week on Charter Cable.

“I have never, ever, dreaded going to work, and that’s the way it should be,” Martel once said on his cable television show.

In 2013, tragedy struck Martel; his 23-year-old granddaughter, Ashley Martel, died of a heroin overdose.

She was pregnant with her first child at the time. Rick Martel was very fond of his granddaughter, and he told KSBY that she was the apple of his eye.

Martel leaves behind a host of family and friends.

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I only heard Rick perform once, at whatever the place at 4th & Grand was called at the time. The place was jammed. We got the last table in the back and us four plus two girls at the bar were the half dozen or so under 50. He had a ghetto blaster and a strobe light. At the start of each song he turned and adjusted the volume of the track dubbed onto the tape. The strobe light was used for lightning for a song from “South Pacific”. The crowd when wild all night long. I remember this well as I subsequently dated one of the “girls at the bar”.

Rick was a class act…. They don’t make them like that anymore.

The Martel family is going to need help paying for Rick’s funeral expenses. If you want to donate (any amount is appreciated), head to any Rabobank in the county and drop some money in the Martel Family account. Thank you!

Never even owned a TV, but Rick Martel was a familiar icon. I couldn’t even name another KSBY personality, current or past. Goodbye, Rick!

Goodbye Rick. Thank you for the many years that you brought us our news at KSBY.

And that voice. Reading for us the news of the day, or singing a blues… Priceless.


Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life.

Rick will be missed. What a voice. Tons of class. A sad day.

Like the “Chairman of the Board,” you did it your way. Thanks for the memories Rick.