Journalist Mike Levine’s distinguished forty-year career spanned both print and broadcast journalism at newspapers and radio stations in Pittsburgh, New York City, and South Florida.
Born on November 6, 1923 as Myron Levine to parents Albert and Florence (Sivitz) Levine, the Pittsburgh native grew up in the industrial city’s suburb of Dormont. After serving as a corporal in World War II in an Army Air Forces radio unit in Belgium, he attended the University of Pittsburgh on the G.I. Bill, graduating with a degree in journalism in 1948.
After initial work with radio station WMCK as a news gatherer, Levine first significant journalism job was with the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, owned by the Hearst Corporation, where he was general assignment reporter then County beat reporter from 1951 to 1956.
Moving into broadcasting Levine led a colorful and productive three-decade career primarily at KDKA Radio, Westinghouse Broadcasting Corporation’s 50,000-watt Pittsburgh outlet. From the late 1950s to the mid-sixties, he was the station’s first ‘live-on-the-scene’ street reporter, providing live coverage from a Motorola walkie-talkie-equipped “mobile unit”– a news room on wheels. (He also contributed to KDKA Television’s news and current events programming.) A regular presence on nightly radio broadcast, “Program P.M.,” he was a key member of the market-leading station’s stellar news team. Garnering recognition, awards and accolades in that role, he then pioneered as host of one of the nation’s first news-oriented talk shows, “Contact,” in 1963. Levine’s in-studio guests were leading personalities, celebrities, authors, thinkers and news makers of their day.
In 1966, he relocated to New York to work for WINS-Radio. Then, returning to KDKA in Pittsburgh in 1969, he hosted a 6 to 9 p.m. evening talk show, “Open Mike” through 1975. He left KDKA for a job offer in Florida, and hosted talk shows at stations in Miami and West Palm Beach. KDKA again hired him back in 1986, and he retired from radio when his contract ended in 1989.
As a reporter in the early 1960s Levine carved a niche that defined the high-energy, on-the-scene news reporter. Later, as the 1960s grew more tumultuous, he was one of the market’s most popular and influential talk hosts. While maintaining a journalist’s neutrality, he advocated for liberal social and political causes throughout his career, a point of pride to his surviving family, brother Philip, wife Bernice and children, Jeffrey, Debra and Mark Levine.