Tuesday, May 2, 2017

R.I.P.: Former Buffalo Station Owner Larry Levite

Larry Levite
Larry Levite, the former owner of WBEN 930 AM died Wednesday, April 26 on his 77th birthday.

A graduate of the American Academy of Arts in New York City, Levite also attended the University at Buffalo Law School before entering the media world, first as a salesman and general manager of the former WYSL-AM and WPHD-FM. While at WPHD (now WEDG-FM), Levite helped bring the first album rock format to the Buffalo market.

Levite also worked for WEBR-AM and its sister station, WEBR-FM, where he was vice president and general manager.

In 1978, Levite bought WBEN-AM and WBEN-FM, through his Algonquin Broadcasting affiliate. He sold the stations in 1994.

According to the station's website, Levite presided over the gradual transition of WBEN from an adult contemporary station to its current format of news and talk.

"Larry was a swashbuckler," says former WBEN Program and News Director Kevin Keenan. "He ..took a lot of chances on people. He was never reckless, but he took a lot of chances on people and programming and he just lit up a room when he entered."        Hear More with Keenan On The WBEN Liveline

Levite's hands-on style was unique: detail-oriented but with an emphasis on creativity and imagination. He could often be heard telling staff to "make it fun, make it sexy"; his office was crammed with trinkets and included a large, plush, stuffed toy gorilla in a chair in the corner.

" We called him 'Captain Fun' because with Larry everyone around him had to have fun.... Yet when he took over WBEN, he had not only a huge responsibility, but he had to bring on his 'Levite-ism', or his 'levity'. People wanted to work for him," said Channel 2 News Weather anchor Kevin O'Connell a former WBEN announcer and disc jockey who first worked with Levite at WYSL in the 1960s.

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