Alex “Sleepy” Stein, founder of the first all-jazz radio station, died July 27 of cancer at his home in Rancho Palos Verdes. He was 81.
Stein, who was born in Savannah, Ga., and grew up in Miami and Havana, started working for CBS Radio in the 1940s. He later moved to Chicago, where he earned the nickname “Sleepy” after replacing an all-night deejay named Wide-Awake Widoe.
After that, he moved to Phoenix, where he was the station manager and program manager at KARV.
From Phoenix, he moved to Southern California, where he started broadcasting from an AM station in Long Beach.
In 1957, Stein bought KNOB and began all-jazz programming from the station in Signal Hill (a city surrounded by Long Beach). On-air personalities at the groundbreaking station included jazz announcers Chuck Niles, Jim Gosa and Alan Schultz. Jazz great Stan Kenton helped finance the station.
In the early 1960s, Stein broadcast from Strollers, a club in Long Beach, three nights a week. He sold the station in 1966 and started Group LA, which sold time on FM stations in Southern California.
Following his broadcasting career he became a stockbroker.