Pinky Kravitz, the man often called “Mr. Atlantic City” and a local radio host believed to have set national records for his longevity on the air, died Saturday at age 88.
Kravitz, who usually referred to himself by his lifelong nickname — and reportedly wouldn’t even answer to his given name, Seymour — spent 57 consecutive years as the host of “Pinky’s Corner,” most of them on WOND-AM 1400, now based in Linwood.
Pinky’s son, Greg Kravitz, knew the influence his dad had on area, more than just in Atlantic City.
“It’s always funny to me when people call him Mr. Atlantic City. He was all about southern New Jersey. That was his love.”
Kravitz said he was proud of what his father did, in terms of advocating for South Jersey.
“All of his fans were his extended family,” Greg Kravitz said. “Hopefully somebody or a group of people will do the same thing he did and take the hard line to get things done and improve the area. He was dedicated to making an impact.”
Kravitz did most of his broadcasting from locations around his beloved Atlantic City, the town where his family moved when Pinky was just 6. He spent his last several years hosting his local talk show from Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, but had previously found homes for his microphone and guests at venues ranging from restaurants to a bowling alley to other casinos.
Kravitz also wrote a “Pinky’s Corner” column for The Press of Atlantic City from 2010 to earlier this year and for years hosted a talk show on the former Channel 40, the NBC-TV affiliate that closed at the end of 2014. Plus he had a popular minute of local commentary and gossip on Wednesday nights on Channel 40’s newscast. He called it “Insider Notes” and always ended it with a tagline that he delivered emphatically — “Insider notes for you ... from Pinky!”
Dave Coskey, president of Longport Media, said his first memories of Kravitz was with his radio show “Pinky’s Corner,” which Coskey would listen to as a child.
“He was always there, whether it was after a storm or a big even happening in the city, Pinky was always there. He was already reliable in the fact that you could always tune in and he would be there,” he said.
“It’s a sad day for us at WOND, and a sad day for everyone.”
Coskey said he last met with Kravitz two weeks ago, and said Kravitz had “some rough times” rehabilitating from heart surgery back in May.
“It was hard to watch him struggle,” Coskey said.
His TV appearances also showed off his prized collection of sweaters — many of which included some pink and almost all of them wildly colorful — that his radio audience couldn’t see.
Kravitz hosted the radio Pinky’s Corner from 1958 until May of this year. He reportedly called in sick for the first time in 56 years of his broadcasting career on May 15 and was hospitalized soon after. And while he occasionally called in to the substitute hosts on his own show — and those of other veteran hosts on the station — in the months since, he wasn’t able to host the show anymore. He announced his retirement in August.
He was a 1944 graduate of Atlantic City High School. He later joined the Merchant Marine but had a basketball scholarship to New York University.
He was also an Atlantic City public school teacher from 1950 until he retired in 1978. He taught fourth grade at Richmond Avenue School, physical education at the former Central Junior High, and history at his alma mater, the city’s old high school. In 1970, he admitted using school-owned equipment to broadcast two private television shows.
He began his radio career with summer teen dance hops on the former Million Dollar Pier in 1958 in Atlantic City. Philadelphia radio station WLDB broadcast him from poolside at the former Chelsea Hotel, and the host named Pinky was on his way.
While still teaching school during the day, he hosted Pinky’s Corner on WOND and WMGM at night.
State Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic City, first talked with Kravitz 50 years ago, when Whelan was a young lifeguard. Being able to talk with Kravitz, and Kravitz having the breadth of knowledge he did to talk on just about any subject, is something Whelan said he will remember well.
He echoed a sentiment many did Saturday night: There's only one Pinky.
“On a personal level, he was the guy you saw around town…you’d be at an event, Pinky would be there,” Whelan said. “When you lose someone like that, that you have an association with and a friendship with, it’s a hard loss.”
Kravitz continued his radio shows, eventually from the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. He wrote for the Whoot newspaper — now called Atlantic City Weekly — and he was the publicity and entertainment director of the original Caesars Boardwalk Regency when it opened as Atlantic City’s second casino in June of 1979.
He was co-chair of the March of Dimes Telethon, an organizer of the Puerto Rican Reciprocal Visitation Program — a long-running exchange of grade-school basketball players from Atlantic City and that island. He was also active in the Cancer Tennis Classic, and chairman of the 100th Atlantic City High School reunion.
He was a member of the Atlantic County Improvement Authority, and received awards from 4H, Business and Professional Women’s Club, Jewish War Veterans, the Knights of Pythias and numerous other local groups.
He was recognized for decades as Atlantic City’s biggest promoter — which earned him the other nickname he was often called, Mr. Atlantic City.
Surviving are his wife, Janet; and two sons, Jeffrey and Gregory. His daughter, Cheryl, or Cherri, died in 2006 after 18 years as a teacher in Atlantic City’s schools, including at Richmond Avenue.
“I’m sure the family will be strong through this whole ordeal, and I’m sure will be shocked for the next week or so,” Coskey said.
Jeff Kravitz said when his dad wanted to walk on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, he would groan.
It wouldn't be just a walk, he said.
"I remembered walking behind him...we'd go 10 feet down the Boardwalk, and someone would stop him. Then we'd walk another 10 feet. We would only make it 50 feet down the Boardwalk," said Jeff Kravitz, who lives on the west coast.
That was how Kravitz was, his son said. Everyone wanted his ear, his opinion, his thoughts. And Pinky was only too glad to give them.
"He wasn't just my dad. He was everyone's dad," he said. "He was a true inspiration."
This story is developing.
Reporter Sara Tracey contributed to this report.