Media pioneer and Klein College namesake Lew Klein dies at 91

Klein received an honorary degree the Klein College of Media and Communication commencement ceremony in May 2019.

Broadcasting pioneer, Temple alumnus, benefactor, and teacher, Lew Klein, speaks at the renaming ceremony of the Klein College of Media and Communication at the Temple Performing Arts Center in March 2017. Klein died on Wednesday. | GENEVA HEFFERNAN / FILE PHOTO

Lew Klein, a media industry pioneer, benefactor and the namesake for the Temple University Lew Klein School of Media and Communication, died on Wednesday. He was 91.

Klein taught at Temple for six decades and provided multi-million dollar support to the School of Media and Communication, which was named after him in March 2017.

Klein received an honorary degree at the school’s commencement ceremony in May 2019.

Klein began teaching television courses at the Temple in 1952. He is credited with launching the careers of dozens of media professionals, most notably the late Dick Clark, according to a university release.

Klein is most known for helping create American Bandstand, of which he was the executive producer. He also spent 15 years producing Philadelphia Phillies telecast.

“Lew Klein has left an indelible imprint on the lives of countless Temple students who have gone on to build successful careers in media, communication and related fields. Those graduates are Lew’s true gift to journalism,” said Temple University President Richard Englert in the release.

Klein also served as an executive at the former WFIL-TV, now WPVI, in Philadelphia at the beginning his teaching career. As a program director at Channel 6 Action News, he played an important part in establishing the station’s news format in the 1970s.

“Through the decades of his remarkable career as a pioneer of television, Lew Klein taught part-time at Temple University, starting in 1952,” said David Boardman, dean of Lew Klein College of Media and Communication, in the release. “He did that not for money, but as a way to serve his community and his profession by helping shape the journalists and broadcasters of the future.”

In 2000 Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, who are longtime friends and colleagues of Klein, established the Lew Klein Alumni in Media Awards Ceremony fund. It has supported students through scholarships for 18 years. The funds, which range from $1,500 to $15,000, help honor students and alumni who have made a difference in the media and communications industry, the release read.

During the 2017 renaming ceremony, Klein said that he was “so proud and thankful” to be honored in such a remarkable way, according to the release.

At the naming ceremony, Klein recalled a seminar he attended at Temple while in high school inspired his curiosity in journalism, The Temple News reported.

“Attending inspired my curiosity in journalism,” Klein said to the crowd in March 2017. “Just seven years later, I was an instructor at Temple University, teaching a production course in a very iffy business named television.”

Klein is survived by his wife, Janet, his children, Ellen and Stephen, granddaughter Anna, her husband John and great-grandchildren Oscar and Miriam.

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