In the city of Cleveland, sports are a way of life. Les Levine, who was one of the most beloved sports voices, embodied everything that Cleveland fans were passionate about. He lost his long battle with Parkinson’s disease and diabetes on February 3 at 9:23 pm. Levine, who was known for his sense of humor and love for puns, was a regular on the radio station 92.3 The Fan. It’s, as if, with the time of him passing coinciding with the station’s channel number, he left the world in his own way leaving a part of wit at the end.
Levine’s career, which spanned decades, is a story of true resilience and grit. He wanted to be a pro baseball player and even played on a few of Cleveland’s sandlot teams. Levine, who was a Cleveland native, attended Ohio State University and earned his political science degree. It has been said that his father wanted him to be a lawyer. However, Levine had different aspirations. He wanted to be a sportscaster.
Levine moved to Jasper Indiana at a young age to be a DJ as well as high school sports reporting. In 1971, he made his way back to Ohio and joined Akron’s radio station WNIR. He was the sports play-by-play caller for local basketball games as well as the sales manager for the station. Levine was known to be a ‘self-marketer.” He had that unique ability to interact with fans.
He went on to call Cleveland State and Kent State basketball games and then cemented a call-in show host gig on what is now radio channel WTAM 1100. Levine spoke to fans after Indians and Ohio State games. He resonated with fans as he felt the same passion they did. This is where he found his natural place in the media landscape.
Levin landed his own show on WHK “More Sports & Les Levine” – the title was genius as it dripped with his self-deprecating humor. During this show, his gift of engaging with the audience was born. He quickly went on to become one of Cleveland’s most recognizable sports voices. Levine was “The Self-Proclaimed Voice of Truth and Reason” and fans embraced it. With Cleveland Sports, notoriously breaking fans’ hearts, Levine gave them an outlet to passionately discuss both their excitement and frustrations.
His quick wit and sense of humor were second to none. Levine’s segment called “How Come Quickies” became one of the listeners’ favorites. His most famous is “How come you park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?” Fans couldn’t get enough of Levine and his show soon aired on television and cable networks for close to 20 years. Most recently his show was on Cleveland.com and he continued to be on 92.3 as a fill-in host.
Levine was a diehard fan; he was like us. He felt the highs of the wins and the lows of the losses. When the New York Jets destroyed the Cleveland Browns on December 7, 2020, he had this to say, “I am not ready for this Browns season to end next week because Baker Mayfield and Kevin Stefanski deserve another shot.” he wrote of Cleveland’s postseason chances at the time. “Defeating Pittsburgh at home is quite doable. Anything after that would mean the Browns are playing with ‘house money.’” The Browns went on to have their first playoff win in 26 years and Levine was able to witness it.
Levine received many honors over the years. He was inducted into the Radio & TV Broadcasters Hall of Fame Ohio and most recently awarded the Excellence in Radio Award from the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters. These awards can’t speak enough about Levine’s character. He fought through his physical battles and continued to host More Sports all the way through the end of 2020. On December 30, he hosted his last show with longtime colleague Dennis Manoloff. Levine ended each of his shows with this signature line “Of all the shows I’ve done, this was the most recent”
Cleveland has lost an irreplaceable media personality but more importantly a wonderful man. Les Levine broke the mold. He will be missed immensely.
Thank you, Les Levine, for giving us decades of memories.