John von Soosten, a veteran programming exec for New York TV and radio stations and former president of NATPE, died April 13 on Long Island after a short illness. He was 71.
A native of New York, Von Soosten began his career as an engineer at what was then WOR-TV. He moved to what is now WNYW-TV in the era when the station was owned by John Kluge’s MetroMedia. He rose through the ranks from assistant production manager to working in the promotions department to the post of VP and director of programming for the station that became the flagship O&O of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox network.
In 1985, von Soosten was elected president of the National Association of Television Program Executives, just as the organization set off on a growth spurt with the expansion of the national first-run syndication business. He also served on NATPE’s board of directors and on its executive committee.
After WNYW, Von Soosten moved to Katz Television as senior VP and director of programming for the national advertising rep firm, which works with local TV stations around the country.
Von Soosten also worked for New York radio stations WQEW and WNSW, and he hosted the pop music programs “Frank’s Place” and “On Broadway” for XM Satellite Radio.
For the past three years, von Soosten hosted “The Great American Songbook” program for Nantucket’s NPR affiliate, WNCK. Von Soosten divided his time between homes in West Hempstead, N.Y., and Nantucket.
“He had a deep passion the music and artists, and spent his life sharing that passion with us throughout his illustrious broadcasting career,” the station said in a statement.
Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Linda Baron, and two nephews.