John F. Gregory, Pasadena radio leader

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John F. Gregory, an early general manager at KPCC-FM in Pasadena, Calif., died May 9 at his Los Angeles home.

Gregory led the station at Pasadena City College in the late 1970s and early ’80s, longtime KPCC newsman Larry Mantle wrote on a station blog. During that time Gregory professionalized the station, establishing it as one of the first NPR-member stations and hiring a full-time staff of five to qualify for CPB funding. He hired Mantle as news director in 1983.

Gregory (left) demonstrates KPCC’s 1979 call-letter change with Pasadena City College President Richard S. Meyers. (Photo: PCC.)

After the college separated from the Pasadena city public school system, the station went with the college and changed its call letters from KPCS to KPCC in 1979.

Gregory developed KPCC “from a fledgling radio station for students, into one that Billboard cited as the best educational radio station in the country, according to Gregory’s published obituary.

He lost the position of g.m. in an early 1980s shakeup, says Doug Johnson, then a radio production student of Gregory’s and now broadcast operations manager at KPCC. But Gregory continued to teach communication and speech courses at the college until retirement and afterward.

Johnson remembers Gregory as “a fantastic instructor” who inspired students and “pushed [them] very hard.”

At the national level, Gregory served on the boards of National Educational Radio, the Association of Public Radio Stations and the National Association of Educational Broadcasters. He was also a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

Gregory was active in the Greek Heritage Society and helped produce two award-winning documentaries for the organization. He was the son of Fred Panopoulos and Helen (Nicolopoulos) Kanellis.

He was survived by Wanda, his spouse for 53 years, and many family members and friends.

Services took place May 16 at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. Burial followed at Forest Lawn Cemetery in Hollywood Hills. In lieu of flowers, the family suggested that donors give to charities of their choice in his memory.

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