Bob Grant, a conservative radio personality who ignited rage for his incendiary comments on race and paved the way for shock jocks and conservative talking heads like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck, died on Tuesday after a long illness. He was 84 years old.

Grant, who got his start on the airwaves in Los Angeles, moved to New York in 1970, where he bounced around a few stations before getting behind the mic at WABC in 1984. There, he hosted a conservative radio show in which he frequently targeted liberals, feminists, welfare recipients and, notably, minorities with his vitriol. Grant was also a critic of Martin Luther King, Jr.—in 1993, he referred to him as "that slimeball"— said first black NYC Mayor David Dinkins resembled "the men’s room attendant" at the 21 Club and called Haitian refugees "subhuman scum". When Bernhard Goetz—known for firing a gun at a group of black teenagers he said were trying to mug him on the subway—appeared as a guest on Grant's show, Grant said he wished Goetz had "finished the job by killing them all."

Most notably, Grant was fired from WABC in 1996 after he said he hoped Clinton commerce secretary Robert H. Brown, who was black, died in a plane crash in Croatia. "My hunch is that he is the one survivor. I just have that hunch," Grant said of the crash. "Maybe it’s because, at heart, I’m a pessimist." Brown did die, along with all 34 people on that flight.

Grant, who said in a 2011 interview that he liked "keeping listeners on their toes," had many critics, and in 2009 then-Daily News correspondent Errol Louis (now of NY1) wrote a piece lamenting the host's return to the airwaves. "Grant and [WABC program director Laurie Cantillo] should realize that times have changed in New York," Louis wrote, after describing some of the "years worth of daily bile" Grant spewed on his show. "Hosts that dabble in violent and degrading speech get held accountable."

On his radio show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh praised Grant for being "a down-to-earth, humble guy who never got lost in his ego. He was thought of very affectionately, and I had the chance to thank him a number of times personally when he was alive. [I]n many ways, he was the trailblazer."