Journalist Michael Sommer dies

Writer also worked as educator, speechwriter

Veteran Los Angeles journalist, educator, and political consultant Michael Sommer died March 25 in Agoura Hills when he and his 98-year old mother were struck by a car in an Agoura Hills parking lot.

His mother also suffered grave injuries and is not expected to survive.

Sommer began his career as a writer on the “Duffy’s Tavern” radio show. In the late 1950s and early ’60s, he was a news writer at KABC and KABC/TV and was an editor on the first local newscast on Channel 7, Lew Irwin Reports, from 1957-1962. As news director of KABC in the 1960s, he helped create the Talk Radio and News Talk formats. His commentaries at the station won him two Golden Mike awards. He later became the first broadcast ombudsman at KABC.

He held a Ph.D. from USC in telecommunications and information theory and taught journalism at USC and Seattle U.

He worked as a became a speech writer and campaign strategy advisor for politicians including John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale and Edward Kennedy.

He and his wife Veronika became senior partners of Sheinkopf Ltd. of New York, the firm that created and produced the television spots for the 1996 Clinton-Gore campaign. In recent years, Sommer and his wife have been frequent commentators on CNN and MSNBC and contributors to the Huffington Post.

At the time of his death, he and Veronika were visiting scholars at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the U. of Calif., Berkeley.

Besides Veronika, he is survived by two sons.

A memorial service will be held at the Gates Kingsley Gates Moeller mortuary, 1925 Arizona Ave., Santa Monica, on Wednesday, April 1 at 11:00 a.m.

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