A Bay Area radio legend, Chris Edwards, died on Friday 1/31 after an extended illness, during which he never lost his sense of humor or upbeat attitude.
Chris' illustrious broadcasting career spanned almost 50 years, the majority of them in the San Francisco Bay Area. His booming voice could be recognized throughout northern California during the Top 40 era in the 60's and 70's on KYA (1260 AM), as well as in the 80's and early 90's on K101 and KYA/KSFO.
Born Edward Christian Reinholtz on November 10, 1941 in Mt. Vernon, New York, his passion for music and radio began at an early age. He first discovered his musical talent when his father strapped an accordion on him as a kid, and he was such a natural that he was soon playing the piano by ear.
Radio fascinated him as well. He earned his amateur ham radio license when he was a teenager and was first licensed as K4GVM in Florida. While attending the University of Florida in the late 50's, Edwards hosted his first radio show, "Moonglow with Edwards" on WRUF. It was there that he took on the on-air name Chris Edwards (combining his middle and first names).
Edwards returned to the New York area in the early 60's where he worked as a sound control studio operator for the United Nations, as well as an engineer for WMCA.
Back in Florida in 1963, Edwards now had both on-air experience and his FCC First Class Radio Telephone License, making him a great catch for local radio stations along the east coast of Florida since he could serve as both chief engineer and DJ. His engineering skills were soon overshadowed by his natural affinity for being a disc jockey, and he quickly became an on-air favorite. His show at WHEW in West Palm Beach in 1966 paved the way for his major market break in 1967 at WFUN in Miami. It was during this time he acquired the nickname of "Big Fat Chrissy Edwards".
The fun continued when, in February 1968, Edwards was handed a golden opportunity in San Francisco. He landed at SFO one night and the very next morning was on the air doing morning drive for KYA, a highly-rated Top 40 station. Later, he hosted the afternoon (2 pm – 6 pm) show.
In his first year at KYA, the station achieved some of the highest ratings in its history. But Chris' involvement was not limited to on-air work. He also very active with efforts of the sales staff to promote KYA to clients. In 1976 he made the official move into sales, which led to the next phase in his broadcasting career.
In 1980, Edwards joined K-101 as Sales Executive but was soon on the air as well hosting an oldies show. The "Chris Edwards Time Machine", which ran Sunday nights 6 pm – 10 pm, was an immediate hit.
In 1987 Edwards joined KSFO-AM/KYA-FM in his account executive role and also hosted a Saturday am show until the end of 1991.
Edwards had a very successful second career in sales through the next 20 years, working for, among others, KFRC ("Magic 61"), KABL (where he was sales manager), KKSF and other stations operated by Clear Channel and CBS Radio. He was with KFRC when it re-launched as an oldies station on 106.9 FM in 2007. Chris retired from KGO/KSFO in the summer of 2011.
Retirement afforded Chris time to finally focus on his long time goal of studying for the exam to upgrade his amateur (ham) radio license to the highest class rating possible. He took great pride when in 2013 he passed the exam and his W6OSV license was upgraded to "extra" class.
Chris loved sports and was an avid fan of the Giants and the 49ers. His following of the Giants began even before the team's move to San Francisco, when during the 50's as a young boy he would take the train from Mt. Vernon to New York City for games at the Polo Grounds. Chris was also a 49ers season ticket owner for over 40 years. He delighted in the Giants' two World Series and 49ers' five Super Bowl wins, having attended 2 winning Super Bowls – XIX at Stanford and XXIV in New Orleans. He enjoyed tailgating with friends and travelling to away games with his wife Cynthia.
Chris enjoyed working on cars, flying, train travel, and cooking. Decades before there was such a term, he was a "foodie," exploring and enjoying new restaurants around the Bay Area.
Chris also had a great love for animals, whether it was the wild ones he enjoyed viewing from the deck of his home in Novato or the multiple cats he rescued over the course of his life.
In December 1991 Chris had the great fortune to receive a kidney transplant, allowing him to enjoy his wonderful life for another full 22 years. His family wishes to extend their sincerest thanks for this gift of life, as well as acknowledge and thank his cardiologist for over 25 years, Dr. Edward Kersh, and his nephrologist for the past 3 years, Dr. Farid Osman, for their incredible care during this time.
Known for his great sense of humor and one-liner jokes, Chris was a multi-talented, fun-loving, generous man. He will be remembered by all for his love for radio, passion for life, and contagious smile – but most importantly his kindness to all he met. His favorite on-air term, “kemo sabe”, translates as “faithful friend”. That indeed he was.
He is survived by the love of his life, his wife of 30 years, Cynthia Riser Reinholtz, He is also survived by his cousins who were like brother and sister to him - Larry Dingee (Sandy) of Albany, NY and Linda Glenn (Mack) of Kingman, AZ, and their families; as well as sister-in-law Shirley Strickland (Alan) of Jacksonville, FL, nieces Stefanie and Alison Strickland of Jacksonville and San Diego, respectively and brother-in-law Elliott Riser of Mobile, AL.
A private service will be held. In lieu of flowers, those who wish may make a donation to CPMC Foundation directed to either St. Lukes Cardiovascular Center or The Pacific Transplant Institute. Alternatively, donations may be made to The Marin Humane Society.