Les Levine

There have been many prominent sports figures lost during the past year, and the latest is long-time Cleveland sports broadcaster Les Levine. Tom Withers of The Associated Press has a nice tribute to Levine, who passed away at 74 Wednesday night:

Les Levine, a longtime broadcaster and the self-proclaimed “voice of truth and reason” when it came to analyzing Cleveland’s sports teams, has died. He was 74.

His death Wednesday night was announced by his daughter, Dr. Jamie Levine Daniel. She said he died from diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. She and brother Jeremy were with him when he died.

“He fought so hard for so long, and went out on his own terms,” she said.

Levine, a fixture of Cleveland sports for more than 50 years, continued to work for several years following his Parkinson’s diagnosis. He was open about his struggles with the disease and vowed that it wouldn’t slow him.

Here’s that tweet from Jamie Levine Daniel:

And here’s more on Levine from Terry Pluto of The Plain Dealer:

It was 25 years ago when Les took his sports talk show on cable television. I wondered, “Would anyone want to watch someone talk sports? Listen, sure. But watch?”

Other than the Chicago Sportswriters on TV (1985-2000), I don’t recall anyone else doing it until Les. He made the move in 1996 from WHK radio. Certainly, he was the first to have a show like that in this market.

Les not only was the host, he also sold his own advertising and wrote the commercials, which he read with passion and panache. Les would have liked that word – panache. It means with a special flamboyance, not the same old story.

…“Les was always his own man,” said former Cavs broadcaster Joe Tait. “He didn’t try to be Pete Franklin or anyone else, I loved his show for that. His puns were usually funny. The Les you saw on the air was Les Levine. He was genuine.”

…Having done hundreds of shows with Les, I often marveled at his patience with callers. Some like “The Provoker” came at Les to annoy him. But Les and “The Provoker” both knew the game and had fun with it, no matter how outrageous the comment.

It’s interesting to read about an original sports talk-on-TV figure these days, as that concept is now so much more prominent than it was when Levine started his show. He certainly made a large impact in the Cleveland area over more than 50 years on the air there, and he’s fondly remembered by many, with Pluto noting that his Facebook post about Levine’s passing Wednesday night quickly attracted more than 100 comments. Our thoughts go out to Levine’s family and friends.

[The Associated Press; photo via WKBN]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.