Retired KDKA Radio Host John Cigna Has Died

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Longtime KDKA Radio talk show host John Cigna has died.

He passed away Friday afternoon at Vincentian Home in the North Hills. He was 75.

In more than 30 years on the radio on Pittsburgh, what didn’t John Cigna say?

“I talked and told it like it is,” he told KDKA-TV when he retired. “A lot of times, put both feet in my mouth, but it was great.”

A kid from Brooklyn, he came to Pittsburgh by way of radio gigs in West Virginia, Ohio and Indiana. After a decade doing talk on KDKA from 9 p.m. to midnight, he began a top-rated, 18-year-run in the morning drive.

Never shy with an opinion, he could sometimes be convinced to look at things in a new way — although it might take a near-death experience to do the trick. In 1998, while riding his beloved Harley with his buddy Jon Burnett, Cigna was seriously injured in a crash. The accident ended his harsh criticism of the state’s then-mandatory helmet law. “There was a crack in the helmet,” he explained. “That would have been my head had I not been wearing a helmet.”

His loyal listeners will long remember the charity rides, the spaghetti breakfasts in Market Square and the goofball TV spots.

But by 2001, after all those years on the radio, Cigna was ready to learn first-hand about relaxing — ready to give up those brutal early mornings. He announced his retirement in a special broadcast in Gateway Center. His morning show farewell came a few months later, surrounded by family, friends, and co-workers. “What I wanna say to the people,” he said during the broadcast, “thank you! It’s been a great run, there’s no question about it, so, you know, thank you all.”

CBS Radio General Manager Michael Young and Tony Cigna remember John on NewsRadio 1020 KDKA with Robert Mangino:


One Comment

  1. Brian Urso says:

    Mr.Cigna always had a warm voice..his chuckles was contagious…his spirit will live on through the air waves of KDKA…You will be missed John.. Prayers and Affirmations to john and the Cigna family.

    1. Jared DiGirolamo says:

      John was a guy who pittsburgh loved to listen to every morning to work or school or come home from work after a late night wherever they were at he was a legend and i for one will miss him as am sure a lot of k team fans may he rip now and we will always remember him and his warm sense of humor and good time on the radio every morning for 15+ years god bless u jon u will always be a part of us 4 ever

  2. Bob says:

    You will be remembered and missed by all of Pittsburgh. Thanks for being the every morning.

  3. Beverly Burroughs says:

    I never met John personally, but I listened to him every morning. I often think of him and will miss him, knowing that he is no longer on this earth. My condolences to his family. Thank you John for the many years you gave us.

  4. Judith Jones Gleinn says:

    Listened to you for many years…you will be missed but you will be with your buddy Honz. rest in peace.

  5. James P. Lydon says:

    John Cigna was a great Pittsburgh icon and he will be truly missed!!! My thoughts and prayers go out to his loved ones and everybody who knew him well. This is a very sad day. We will miss him very much, and he will always be remembered.

  6. Elizabeth Claytor says:

    I am deeply saddened by the passing of John Cigna. He is like a part of my family, and he got me off to work every morning for eighteen years. My prayers are with John’s family. Love you John!

  7. Sharon says:

    My deepest sympathies go out to John’s family and friends on John’s passing. I am sorry to hear he was in failing health. He was a Pittsburgh radio icon along with the Honzman and will be missed. God Bless his family and friends.

  8. Raymond Schrader says:

    funny guy, nice guy and a good man. god bless

  9. Ken says:

    John was one of those that came to Pittsburgh via a circuitious route. After many years, the local listeners realized that he had become one of us, a true Pittsburgher.
    John, Rege Cordic, Myron Cope, Bill Cardille and Jack Bogut were/special people and are appreciated unllike “big name stars” that come through these parts.
    Pittsburgh is someplace special not because KDKA says so but because of the special people that call this town home.
    Condolences and sympathies to the Cigna family.

  10. ineda mann says:

    I am so sad! I feel like he was part of my family. I hope his children know how much he meant to all of us, and thank you to them for sharing him with all of us!

  11. News Idiots says:

    Quess nobody told the news department that maybe the viewers would like to know how he died

  12. Mariann says:

    John Cigna was my alarm clock for at least 20 years and i’m only 46 years old but he was the greatest and I will truly miss him. I went to a few spaghetti dinners, but I also got to know him because he was friends with a former priest
    at my church (Father George) he was a great icon and will be missed more than words can say.
    Mariann (Our Lady Of Loreto Church)

  13. Sheron Davis says:

    I am so terribly saddened by the loss of John Cigna. He was a wonderful man and will be deeply missed by me and this city. My deepest sympathies to John’s entire family.

  14. Thomas J Duttine says:

    Another legend gone…..

  15. Boxcar says:

    Jackson, nice timing jerk.

  16. Pat McCarey says:

    John and I go back a long way. John took over night time from Ed and Wendy King. My Mom and I listened to John all night long. Then whan John came on mornings, we listened to John as we were getting ready for work. Oh My, the stories he would tell. I’ve made his italian bread and eaten Farkelberry Tarts. I went to John’s Dr, Stiles. Anything John recommended, I did. When John retired, I felt like I lost my dear friend. John will be sadly missed in my heart. I offer my most sincere sympathies to the family of my Friend John. I’ll miss you John. There is now a hole in my heart that will never be filled.

  17. paul lochrane says:

    john was the working mans hero, john will be missed by all that ever heard him, i never met him but it sure seems like he was my friend! rest in peace brother!

  18. Michael P. Albert says:

    John Cigna set the bar for talk show hosts before there was a talk show industry and noone has ever come close to what he did for Pittsburgh radio with that 9pm-Midnight slot in the 1970s. He was the anchor in the powerhouse that was KDs lineup back then. (from Bogut to Marshall back to Bogut again) I grew up with his show, listening to my late grandmother’s radio echoing through the house all night every night. His Halloween broadcasts were legendary and a family tradition.

    When Cigna was moved to the mornings I was mad for years, thinking that his talent was being wasted there. But he mastered and dominated that slot as well.

    Thanks for all the years, Mr. Cigna, and my deepest condolences to all of his family, friends, and fellow loyal listeners.

  19. Ming the Merciless says:

    John was always a fun guy to listen to and was great to meet in person one time at a Harley dealership great guy he will be missed

  20. marilyn says:

    I agree with the person who said “another legend gone”. My sympathy to the family. I remember his “spaghetti” breakfasts in Market Square. The things he did for the city. Even though he was not on the radio anymore, he was part of Pittsburgh. He will be missed.

  21. Bill Hinds says:

    I was John’s insurance agent for many years. I also shared a cruise with him and his family.

    I throughly enjoyed working with him and being on a cruise with him for 10 days created a lifetime of fun.

    I miss you buddy. And I extend my sympathy to the boys as well.

  22. Jeff says:

    I was on the radio with John several times. A more thoughtful , yet funny broadcaster has rarely been on the air. After a couple of years of knowing John we played golf together a few times; those ; I will remember those times most of all.
    John from one New Yorker to another the world is a better place for having you.
    You will be missed.

  23. cheryl hartman says:

    John will be missed by the entire Western PA region – he truly was a great
    advocate of Pittsburgh – another “ledgend” gone – my sympathy to his family
    Cheryl – Richmond, VA

  24. Margaret Bellotti Denardo says:

    Our sympathies certainly go out to his family. His 1998 Motorcycle crash happened at my house. He became quite the character in our house for several years when he and a great group of friends would come back on the accident anniversary. He will be missed by many.

  25. Susan says:

    I grew up listening to John on the nighttime show. I remember hiding my transistor radio under my pillow as a ten year old and listening late in to the evening, far past my bedtime. Pittsburgh has lost another great “character”.

  26. Joyce Richman says:

    I produced the John Cigna night time show in the late 70’s and I knew then, as a wet behind the ears college graduate, that John was a huge talent from whom I could learn a lot. He was a unique character with a knack for “jerking the chains” of his listeners while thoroughly entertaining everyone. More than 30 years later, John is among the handful of talent that influenced my understanding of the broadcast business and for whom I had the utmost respect, admiration and affection for. Rest in peace John!

  27. Richard C Cook says:

    I produced John Cigna’s evening talk show in the early 80’s, and John had a tendency to seemingly stop paying attention to callers he found boring. One night, a woman caller was droning on, and he finally replied: “that may be true, I’m not really into the English language.” To which she replied: “yes, I’m aware of that.” After a short pause, John cracked up. Completely aware that she had shot him verbally between the eyes. He was thrilled: “what a shot!” he exclaimed, followed by the familiar belly laugh. I remember that call as if it were 3 hours ago. Just when you thought John was asleep at the switch, he demonstrated he was actually at the top of his game. R.I.P.

  28. Art Bitron says:

    Jackson Armstrong? He and Mr. Cigna are staffing that radio station in the sky.

  29. Dave F says:

    I will never forget the show (evening) when John called Australia to see which way the toilets drained…clockwise or counter….he was a true gem on the radio. R I P John.

  30. jpuck says:

    When Cigna left the air, everyone in Pittsburgh lost a buddy. Heck, even folks who didn’t like Cigna still listened to him, regularly. That’s an art my friends. RIP John.

  31. Bill says:

    John, you were always there to help get me up in the morning and to get off to work. Thanks for doing what you did, and for doing it well!

  32. Holly Ross says:

    Goodbye John. You were my friend and I will truly miss you! That hug that I gave you the last time I saw you was priceless. My deepest sympathies go out to the Cigna family and John”s closest friends. He was a unique and amazing individual. Rest in peace with Pat.

  33. Ed Totos says:

    My deepest sympathy to the Cigna family. John you were the best.

  34. Janet says:

    My deepest sympathy to the Cigna Family, I have found memories of John on KDKA.
    My Aunt would say, “I go to bed at night with 3 men, Arthur Ritis, Ben Gay and John Cigna”

  35. Good Old Radio says:

    He would have gotten a big kick out of getting top billing over a ferel cat epidemic

  36. Larry says:

    Anyone remember the April Fools Day thing about “Something has Landed in South Park…and it is NOT OF THIS EARTH”? He reported that the National Guard had been deployed to investigate..etc…etc. And, UNBEKNOWNST to John, the local chapter of the National Guard WAS on training manuevers in South Park that very morning. He took some heat for that. Great loss for Pittsburgh. Great guy. Condolences to all

  37. Bob says:

    The real statement of what kind of person someone was is how that person is remembered when they are gone. The world and Pittsburgh are a little less for this lost.

  38. Tammie says:

    I remember going to Cigna’s restaurant in Lawrenceville. It was a wonderful place. John and Tony always made you feel like they had know you for years. Laughter, food, conversation, and friends….what could be better?
    Peace John

    To his family and dear friends you have my sympathy and prayers.

  39. Mel Check says:

    John Cigna
    A dear friend and a great radio personality who understood the business as well as any person I know…He would ruffle your feathers yet entertain you while getting his point across..he will be missed..
    To the family..All our sympathy from Pat and I…

  40. Linda Kelly says:

    I will miss John Cigna. He was a legend in Pittsburgh Radio. May God comfort the family during this sad and difficult time. May he Rest In Peace. You are in my prayers.

  41. Radio Rich says:

    The saddest part of John and Fred passing is that there is no one left at KDKA who will be remebbered for Anything!

  42. Bill Gallo says:

    John, Rest in Peace. Well done. My condolences to your family and your KDKA colleagues. When my daughter commuted to Pitt I listened to you as she traveled in the morning and to Fred as she returned home in the evening. Those were good days. I miss you both.

  43. Diva says:

    Was Wendy Bell the first and only one to know?

  44. dr michael says:

    John Cigna God bless Rest in Peace

  45. fat andy says:

    what the heck is a Vincentian Home? but seriously though, i thought this dude died years ago

  46. Paladin says:

    Don’t forget Uncle Dougie Hoerth recently as well. All great voices.

  47. Eleanor Huth says:

    John Cigna was a very special man..I never missed a show if I could help it.
    I prayed for him when he had his motorcycle accident in Cadogan. I was so relieved when I heard that he was going to be O.K.
    He came to Freeport, PA, for the opening of Brestensky’s Meat Market & I just had to go over there to meet him & say hello..I cane home with an autographed picture of him. I was so proud of him. Sincere Sympathy & prayers to his family..May The Lord Grant him Peace.. Rest in Peace John.
    You did your work on this Earth Well..We loved you…

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