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The Museum Receives Gene Klavan Archives

Thursday, February 10, 2005

New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA—The Museum of Television & Radio announced today a donation of audiotapes featuring the only known recordings of legendary radio personality Gene Klavan. The donation was given to the Museum by Scott Klavan, the son of Mr. Klavan, who died on April 8, 2004, at the age of seventy-nine.

This important donation consists of over thirteen hours of recordings from Klavan & Finch and Klavan in the Morning, Klavan's longtime shows on New York's WNEW-AM. Among the programs in this donation are shows recorded between 1968 and 1977, including Klavan's final show. The programs are unique because they are composed entirely of recordings made by Klavan's fans and are the only existing examples of his work.  Neither Klavan nor his longtime partner Dee Finch, nor the station ever recorded the programs for posterity. The donation includes both excerpts and complete shows with full music, news, and commercials, as well as Klavan's routines which feature forty different characters, including Mr. Nat, Trevor Traffic, and Isadore Isobar.

In accepting this donation, Monique Fortuné, radio curator at The Museum of Television & Radio, stated, "This donation of Gene Klavan's work is an important addition to The Museum of Television & Radio's collection, and we extend our gratitude to Scott Klavan and all those fans that helped make this donation possible. Gene Klavan was a vital part of New York City radio for four decades, and now classic Klavan & Finch and Klavan in the Morning programs, which include some of the best examples of Klavan's voice characterizations, are preserved and available for public enjoyment."

Gene Klavan got his start in television and radio in Baltimore after World War II, hosting shows on WCBM, WITH, and WAAM-TV. For WTOP in Washington, Klavan performed onstage in a pioneering and top-rated show at the Arena Stage, one of the first ever to be simulcast on radio and television.

In 1952 Klavan joined Dee Finch on New York's WNEW-AM to launch Klavan & Finch, a hugely popular morning show that would go on to be emulated by stations around the country. With Finch acting as the sophisticated straight man, Klavan used numerous accents and voices to create characters including Mr. Nat, Trevor Traffic, Emilio Percolator, Victor Verse, Isadore Isobar, and Dr. Sy Cology. During this time, Klavan was also a regular panelist on network game shows and a frequent guest on television and radio talk shows. After Finch retired in 1968, Klavan performed solo on Klavan in the Morning until 1977, when he took his show to WOR. He left radio in 1986.

Klavan went on to host programs on AMC, offer comic commentary on WCBS-TV, and write a column for Newsday. He also composed songs that were recorded by Sarah Vaughn, among other performers, and wrote two books: We Die at Dawn (1964), a humorous look at the Klavan & Finch show, and Turn That Damn Thing Off (1972), a biting critique of the power of television.

Klavan was an avid photographer who had several solo shows and whose pictures appeared in the New York Times, among other publications. He also wrote articles for Popular Photography magazine.

The Museum of Television & Radio, with locations in New York and Los Angeles, is a nonprofit organization founded by William S. Paley to collect and preserve television and radio programs and advertisements and to make them available to the public. Since opening in 1976, the Museum has organized exhibitions, screening and listening series, seminars, and education classes to showcase its collection of over 100,000 television and radio programs and advertisements. Programs in the Museum's permanent collection are selected for their artistic, cultural, and historic significance.

The Museum of Television & Radio in New York, located at 25 West 52 Street in Manhattan, is open Tuesdays through Sundays from noon to 6:00 p.m. and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. The Museum of Television & Radio in California, located at 465 North Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills, is open Wednesdays through Sundays from noon to 5:00 p.m. Both Museums are closed on New Year's Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Suggested contribution: Members free; $10.00 for adults; $8.00 for senior citizens and students; and $5.00 for children under fourteen. Admission is free in Los Angeles. The public areas in both Museums are accessible to wheelchairs, and assisted listening devices are available. Programs are subject to change. You may call the Museum in New York at (212) 621-6800, or in Los Angeles at (310) 786-1000. Visit the Museum's website at