NATPE chairman Andy Kaplan issued a statement on Klein’s passing:
“It is with the deepest regret that we inform you that Lew Klein, NATPE’s founder and guiding light, has passed away. Lew was the soul and inspiration for NATPE and was tireless in his work and support of both NATPE and the NATPE Foundation, which he founded and served as president until his passing.
“Our condolences go out to Janet, Lew’s wife, who was by his side for a lifetime and always present at NATPE events, and to Lew’s entire family. We will dearly miss his wise counsel, smiling face and his class. He was one of a kind.”
Klein started his career in the 1950s in the programming department of WFIL (now WPVI) in Philadelphia. From 1984 to 1993, Klein served as president of Gateway Communications, Inc., which owned four CBS affiliate stations in New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. He was also the executive producer of the popular dance show American Bandstand, and of the award-winning series Frontiers of Knowledge and College News Conference.
Klein also became an adjunct professor at the School of Communications at Temple University in Philadelphia, a position he served in for 65 years. Klein was honored several times at Temple for his service to the university, and in 2017 the university’s School of Media and Communication was renamed the Lew Klein College of Media and Communication.
Klein was the recipient of NATPE’s President’s Award and the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters Gold Medal. He was also named “Broadcaster of the Year” by the Broadcast Pioneer’s Philadelphia Chapter and earned the Distinguished Education Service Award from the Broadcast Education Association.
Klein was also the founder and president of the NATPE Educational Foundation.
He is survived by his wife, Janet, his children Ellen and Stephen, granddaughter Anna and her husband, John, and great-grandchildren Oscar and Miriam. A memorial service will be held for Klein at a date to be determined.