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Milton Maltz

Milton Maltz -Award for Excellence In Broadcasting /Class of 1991

Thanks to a grade school teacher who encouraged him to audition, Milton Maltz was cast in the title role of “Jack and the Beanstalk,” making his fateful start in the medium that would be a giant part of his life: radio. Maltz, the second member of the inaugural class of Awards for Excellence in Broadcasting, went on to perform in numerous radio dramas originating in Chicago and soon afterward television programs during the medium’s infancy. Still, he was smitten by radio.

“With radio, it’s just voice and sound effects, so the listeners have to use their imaginations,” he says. “Television leaves nothing to the imagination.” As a child during World War II , he was also inspired by Edward R. Murrow’s riveting radio reports from Blitz-besieged London.

After the war, broadcasting gave him another life transforming moment, when he met a Chicago teacher who was auditioning for a program he was directing. Her name was Tamar , and she went on to win the greatest role of her life as Mrs. Maltz. The two have been married for over 60 years and have three children, Julie, Daniel and David.

While Tamar taught, Milt served in the Navy and was assigned to the National Security Agency in Washington, DC, during the Korean War. After being discharged, he decided to venture into the ownership side of radio, and formed Malrite Communications in 1956 in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. He served as the company’s Chairman and CEO until it was sold in 1998, and grew it into one of the most successful broadcasting properties in the US, with stations stretching from New York to Los Angeles.

In 1972, while attending the National Association of Broadcasters convention, he ran into John Kluge, the owner of Metromedia Corp., whom he knew from his DJ days while in the Navy. He made Kluge an offer for WHK -AM 1420 and WMMS-FM 100.7 in Cleveland. Initially, he had planned to purchase a station in San Diego, since Tamar had family in California and hoped to move there. But when that deal didn’t work out, he made the Cleveland purchase and the rest is Cleveland broadcast history.

With a few strategic moves, Milt turned WMMS into Malrite’s flagship station and eventually the premier rock station in the nation. “I made the Buzzard our insignia,” he recalls. “And I never hired announcers with beautiful voices for that station. I went over to Cleveland State and found DJs who understood and could talk about the music, not just announce it.” WMMS became the cornerstone of a flourishing broadcasting business that gave Milt the juice to leverage the deal to bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to Cleveland.

After getting the iconic Rock Hall built on Cleveland’s lakefront, Milt turned his attention to other museum projects, including the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, . Motivated by his NSA experiences, Milt conceived and developed the International Spy Museum in Washington, DC.

 

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