at the 2nd annual Broadcast Pioneers Student Symposium
at the Studios of KYW-TV, CBS 3
Saturday, April 12, 2003
One of the true legends in broadcasting is Broadcast Pioneers member Lewis Klein. He worked at WFIL-TV beginning in 1950 and stayed for 22 years. After graduating Cheltenham High School in 1945, Lew went to the University of Pennsylvania where he earned a degree in English.
His first venture into broadcasting was during his years at Penn when he did a commercial for "Dutch Boy Paints" and used a marionette.
In 1972, Lew was one of the partners that purchased the Triangle TV stations from Walter Annenberg. WFIL-TV in Philadelphia went to Capital Cities. All the other television stations went to Klein’s company, Gateway Communications, Inc. They owned WBNG-TV, Johnson City, New York; WTAJ-TV, serving Altoona, Johnstown and State College, Pennsylvania; WLYH-TV, Lancaster-Lebanon, Pennsylvania; and WOWK-TV, Huntington-Charleston, West Virginia. All were CBS affiliates. From 1972 to 1984, he served as Gateway's Executive Vice-President and from 1984 to 1993, he was Gateway's president.
Before leaving WFIL-TV, Lew was Director of Television Programming for the Triangle Group for five years. He supervised the programming of all six of the Annenberg (Triangle) television outlets. Previous to that, Lew worked in a variety of programming functions.
He directed and produced a wide variety of shows for Channel 6. He was the director/producer for Sally Starr’s show and director of “Romper Room” that featured “Miss Claire.” Miss Claire Coleman went on to marry Richard Schweiker, former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania and President Reagan’s Secretary of Health and Human Services. Claire, by the way, was one of Lew’s undergraduate students from Temple University where he taught for five decades. In 2001, he was inducted into school's "Hall of Fame."
He was also director/producer for “College Press Conference” originating from WFIL-TV and carried coast-to-coast on ABC-TV. He was also involved with the award-winning show, "Frontiers of Knowledge." He produced the Philadelphia Phillies telecasts for a decade and a half.
Klein also was the director of live national TV shows including "Stump the Stars" and "Here Comes the Doodletown Pipers" and Executive Producer of "Dear Julia Mead."
For its stay in Philadelphia, Lew Klein was Executive Producer of Bandstand and its network counterpart, American Bandstand. In 1967, Klein and Broadcast Pioneers member W. Carter Merbreier (Captain Noah) created "Captain Noah's Magical Ark" over an oyster lunch.
Lew Klein served as President of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia (our 13th) during 1975 and 1976. In 1982, he was honored by our organization as our "Person of the Year," and was inducted into our Hall of Fame in 1993.
Klein has also served as President of TRAC, the Television & Radio Advertising Club and NATPE, the National Association of Television Program Executives. He was also one of the founders of NATPE.
Lew has been an English Department faculty member for his alma mater, the University of Pennsylvania. A visiting lecturer on several occasions, he lectured at The Sorbonne, University of Paris in France.
During 1981, the National Honorary Broadcasting Society, Alpha Epsilon Rho awarded Lew its “Concerned Broadcaster of the Year” prize. About that same time, Klein co-authored “Broadcast Cable Programming,” a television course textbook. It has been widely used across the nation.
In 1993, the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters honored Lew Klein with its Gold Medal during their annual dinner. Lew served for three years on the board of directors of PAL, the Police Athletic League and, in 1975, received their community service award. He has served on the board of directors of the Einstein Medical Center, the American Heart Association, the Belmont Center for Comprehensive Treatment, the Philadelphia Psychiatric Center, Moss Rehabilitation, the Cheltenham Art Center and Rodeph Shalom Synagogue. He has also served as the president of the Corporate Alliance for Drug Education.
Lew and his wife, Janet have two children, Ellen and Stephen. Lew loves to travel and enjoys a good game of tennis.
For years, he has served on the board of directors of Dick Clark Productions. Lew Klein is truly what it means to be a Broadcast Pioneer.
Some of Lew Klein's awards are:
2004 - Russell Conwell Award from Temple University for service to the university from non-alumni
2001 - Lew Klein Excellence in Media Award established by Temple University School of Communications and Theatre in recognition of Lew’s 50 years of teaching as an Adjunct Professor at the school.
1997 - Philadelphia PAL’s 50th Anniversary Award for service to the organization
1996 - Distinguished Education Service Award from the Broadcast Education Association
1993 - Gold Medal Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters
1993 - Inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia's "Hall of Fame"
1990 - Broadcaster of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters
1983 - Person of the Year Award from the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
1981 - Concerned Broadcaster of the Year Award from Alpha Epsilon Rho, the National Honorary Broadcasting Society
1980 - President Award from the National Association of Television Program Executives
1975 - Community Service Award from Philadelphia PAL
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Text compiled and researched by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
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