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WPIX Founder Pope Dies

Leavitt Joseph "Lev" Pope, a founder, president and CEO of WPIX New York, died in his Scarsdale, N.Y., home April 18. He was 83.

Pope joined the New York Daily News as an administrative assistant after World War II and, in 1948, helped launch WPIX (the call letters a reference to "New York's picture paper," as the tabloid was called). It became the nations' first independent station, one not affiliated with any network. After serving in various roles, he became president/CEO in 1975. He retired in 1993.

WPIX, like other independent stations, showed a heavy mix of old movies, children's programming and sports. It was the television home of the New York Yankees from 1951 to '98. WPIX may be best-known nationwide for its Yule Log, simply a film loop of a log burning in a fireplace, that aired without commercial interruption on Christmas Eve and/or Christmas morning from 1966 to '90. It was brought back in 2001, in part because of a viewer's campaign to restore it, as a nostalgic touch after the tragedy of 9/11.

Pope also had served as chairman of the New York State Broadcasters Association and a director of the National Association of Broadcasters. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, 11 children and 24 grandchildren.