Retsek, veteran of KCET and KPFK’s The Car Show

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John Retsek, a production designer who wore many hats during a 43-year career at KCET in Los Angeles and created one of the longest-running radio programs in Los Angeles, KPFK’s The Car Show, died in his sleep Oct. 31 at home in San Pedro, Calif. He was 75.


He had retired in April from KCET.

The Car Show debuted on KPFK in 1973. Ruth Seymour, who later built KCRW into a public radio powerhouse, was running KPFK at the time and put him on the air.

“John Retsek was a bona fide authority, and, like his partner, Len Frank, who went before him, almost vexingly correct on every subject that I ever engaged him on,” said LA Car editor-at-large Doug Stokes in a statement. “He was gentle but blunt, and accurate to a half of a quarter-millimeter.”

He began at KCET station in 1969, and worked on Hollywood Television Theater and the groundbreaking Carl Sagan series Cosmos, among other productions. He won Emmys for his work as an art director. Later in his career, he was the station’s archivist.

Retsek wrote for several car magazines and enjoyed Grand Prix racing, according to his Los Angeles Times obituary. “He had a lifelong love affair with sailboat racing that began on Lake Michigan as a young boy,” it said.

He was born July 4, 1937, in Michigan City, Ind., son of John and Berneth (Cash) Retseck.

Survivors include his wife, Maureen; daughters Amanda and Stephanie; son Dylan; two grandchildren; brothers Ronald and James; and sister Sharon.

In honor of his 1978 shipboard marriage to Maureen, a memorial took place Nov. 16 at Cabrillo Marina Plaza in San Pedro.

This obituary, printed in Current‘s Nov. 19 issue, updates an earlier online post.

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