Editor at Large
Steve Julian, a University of La Verne alumnus and KPCC radio personality, died of stage 4 glioblastoma multiform, a form of brain cancer, at his South Pasadena home April 24 at the age of 57.
Mr. Julian was known for hosting the KPCC “Morning Edition,” a news broadcast with analysis and commentary, and he was also involved with local theater in Hollywood and the San Gabriel Valley as an actor, a playwright and a director.
He was first diagnosed in November 2015, and his last radio show was on Nov. 23, 2015.
Mr. Julian was a Pomona Police Department dispatcher, a reporter for a Pomona radio station, a Baldwin Park police officer and an AirWatch America traffic reporter before starting his radio work at KPCC in 2000.
He had an earlier start in radio broadcasting when he was a college student, attending his first University of La Verne class as a radio major on June 4, 1979.
George Keeler, communications department chairman and professor of journalism, started teaching at the University in the fall of 1979. Keeler worked next door to the radio studio in the Athletics Pavilion at the time, and he remembers Mr. Julian for his dedication to the school’s radio station KULV, and KBOB-FM, a local Big Band music radio station.
“Steve was one of the first, founding students of our radio broadcast major,” Keeler said. “Many students were doing KLVC, but the very best students were doing KBOB. He brought to our program his immense talent and creative insight and provided a professional path for all who came after him.”
Big band music consists of jazz and swing music that was popular in the early 1930s to the late 1940s during the World War II. The signals for KBOB was broadcasted over antennas from the Athletic Pavilion to local communities and the San Gabriel Valley.
KBOB was a partnership between the University and the radio industry, and students were paid to be on air for seven days a week while gaining professional experience.
“I remember Steve and the others really well,” Keeler said. “At first they didn’t like the big band World War II music – it was different. But then they got really into it, and I caught them humming to it on their time off.”
Larry Mantle, host of “AirTalk with Larry Mantle” on KPCC was Mr. Julian’s best friend of 33 years, and they saw each other every weekday morning at work. They first met when they were hosting an afternoon show for KPRO in Riverside.
“He was a broadcaster deeply concerned with serving the audience,” Mantle said. “Everything he did in hosting ‘Morning Edition’ was aimed at improving the listeners’ experience. I consider him to be one of Los Angeles’ largest radio talent. He combined tremendous voice and on-air presence with great warmth.”
One of Mantle’s favorite memories of Mr. Julian was the period after the 9/11 attacks occurred. Mr. Julian made the decision to take the feed from an affiliated NPR station in New York City and broadcast it on air for KPCC so listeners can have the most updated, real-time information.
“That’s the kind of judgement Steve had and the creativity and interest he had in serving the listeners as best as he could,” Mantle said.
Mr. Julian also mentored other hosts while being open to learning from them as well, Mantle said.
Mantle also admired Mr. Julian’s expertise in Southern California and his knowledge to many shortcuts to travel around the Los Angeles area.
“His local knowledge was huge and his news judgement was excellent,” Mantle said. “He had everything you need to be a superb radio star.”
Mantle also attended Mr. Julian’s theater shows, and he said Mr. Julian combined his love for theater with similar work ethics he had for radio in a way where he showed the same concern for his audience as he did for his listeners.
“He always wants to bring to the audience something to really think about and to shed light on the issues that he thought were important,” Mantle said.
Although decades have passed and they have not kept in touch, professional voice and narration talent Roy Lunel, a La Verne professor from 1977 to 1983, remembers Mr. Julian as an inspiring student.
“Steve was one of those students that was different from the rest,” Lunel said. “He was extremely talented on the air on KULV as well as KBOB. You could tell that radio was his passion and he was destined for greater heights in this field. I recall listening to him on ‘Morning Edition’ and feeling proud that he got his start at ULV.”
Mr. Julian is survived by his wife, Felicia Friesema, and his mother, Marlene Julian.
For donations to support Mr. Julian’s family for medical bills and funeral costs, visit pages.giveforward.com/medical/page-qkl56r3.
His family also asked for contributions to be sent to Coeurage Theatre Co. at coeurage.org or KPCC at kpcc.org.
Cody Luk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.