Stephen Labunski, who held many top positions in broadcasting, died March 21 of natural causes in New York. He was 86.
Labunski worked as an executive for the Todd Storz organization and later became the general manager of WMCA, New York’s first Top 40 radio station, beginning in 1958. There, he helped begin the “Good Guys” radio format of having distinct radio personalities and was a major influence in the early days of pop radio.
While at WMCA, he organized groups of radio actors to perform shows at veterans hospitals. He later became president of NBC Radio and was executive director of the Intl. Radio and Television Society. He was also a founder of the Broadcasting and Cable Hall of Fame.
While at IRTS Labunski began an intern program and mentored those interested in a career in broadcasting.
He was a member of the Friars Club for more than 40 years, sat on the boards of organizations including the National Assn. of Broadcasters and the Radio and Advertising Bureau and was chairman of the advisory committee for Voice of America.
With an interest in language, Labunski became an interpreter of German and Russian for the U.S. occupational forces after WWII. This work sparked an interest in communication, and he pursued a career in broadcasting upon his return home.
Survivors include his wife, Jeralyn, and a son.
Services will be held March 23 at 2 p.m. at Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, N.Y.