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.


I used to run into Rick every once in a while, nice guy. I liked him a lot better than Tony Cappola.


Rick was always friendly when I would be at KSBY producing TV ads for clients. Always had a big smile and friendly, “Hello, how are you?” I remember him fondly.

When Elizabeth Murdoch dumped Rick, one of the KOTR DJ’s had her on the phone for an interview. In response to the questions about Rick, Murdoch only read the KSBY press release over the phone on KOTR. Clam Chowder (I think) followed this by playing a recording Rick singing, “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling.”

I had to pull off the road I was laughing so hard.


Rick was a good friend and always available if you needed him, going to miss this familiar voice and face.


The end of an era.

Always enjoyed Rick on the news!

Loved his head of hair too, will miss you Rick.


Such a dear man, and local icon. Sad to see that KSBY has not paid tribute yet to their former Anchor.


This is very sad news. Rick was one of the greats – with style and class that is very hard to find these days. It looks like KSBY will be running a story on this tonight.

It’s unfortunate that KSBY has a habit of forcing out their great anchors, as happened with Tony Cippola and most recently with John Reger.

Adam L.

Do we really need to know about the heroin overdose of his daughter? Geez.


I heard on Dave’s show that her death was a big contributor to his decline — along with a stroke he suffered. I take that as a relevant piece of information in that context and I doubt that it was intended at all to criticize him post mortem.


He sure had that magnetic voice, didn’t he ? I’d bet he was a great singer when younger.

I heard him a few years ago, and even though a bit crusty with age, he still had some pretty smooth pipes.


I always wondered how a chain smoker could still sing pretty decently after all those years. I suspect that may have played a role in his decline as well.


What would it take to view one of these final tributes without the dirt? Just sayin’


Very sad news. We will honor Rick today (Wednesday) from 3:05 to 4 p.m. on News/Talk 920 KVEC.


Thanks Dave. That was a great show.

I really enjoyed when Wendy Thies called in to share her memories of Rick. She was my favorite female KSBY anchor back in the day!