Radio Talk Show Host Barbara Carlson Dies At 80

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Barbara Carlson, a former radio talk show host with a bold, unfiltered personality, has died at the age of 80.

Carlson’s daughter, Anne Carlson, said her mother died Monday surrounded by family and friends. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer. Anne Carlson told the Star Tribune that before her mother died, she said: “I wasn’t a great mother. But, damn, I was a fun mother.”

Barbara Carlson’s brother, George Duffy, confirmed her death Tuesday to The Associated Press.

Barbara, known as “Babs,” divorced Arne Carlson in 1977, before he became Minnesota’s governor.

She gave up her career in real estate and became a politician herself, serving on the Minneapolis City Council in the 1980s. In 1990, her life became even more public as she began her career as a bombastic talk show host on KSTP radio. Her show was known for being outrageous, sometimes airing from her hot tub.

The show was popular, partly because fans could never predict what Carlson would say. On the air, and in her 1997 book “This Broad’s Life,” Carlson shared intimate details about sex, divorce, depression, alcoholism and stabbing Arne Carlson twice during a tumultuous marriage.


She retired from radio in 2002 after a series of health issues.

After Carlson learned she had stage 4 cancer, she threw a party in February, while she could still enjoy it. About 300 people showed up.

Carlson was a Republican, but leaned left on social issues, like abortion. She had a high-profile falling out with the Republican Party in 1984.

Anne Carlson said it was sometimes a challenge to have a mother with such a huge personality.

“But she loved so much. She was quick to anger. Quick to forgive. And quick to love. And I am a better person for having known her,” Anne Carlson said.

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