Cleveland Radio Legend Lynn Tolliver Dies At 71

The broadcaster and songwriter ‘was our Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley, Wendy Williams’ local station WZAK said in announcing his passing.

Lynn Tolliver Jr., a pioneering Cleveland radio legend who spent decades at local station WZAK, has passed away. He was 71 years old.

WZAK announced the loss in a Feb. 13 statement on Facebook: “It is with heavy hearts we share this news: A Cleveland legend has passed - Lynn Tolliver Jr. - a name that brought big time radio to WZAK in the 80s.”

According to the station, Tolliver came to WZAK in May 1982 not long after the station transformed into a Black-oriented urban contemporary format. He moved to Cleveland after finding success working at MCA Records in Detroit. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his close circle at this time,” the statement said.

“To the city of Cleveland and surrounding areas, Lynn Tolliver was our Tom Joyner, Rickey Smiley, Wendy Williams, Angie Martinez before we even heard of these names, Lynn Tolliver was our Breakfast Club, our Morning Hustle in a time before the internet and social media,” the station said.

Before conquering radio, Tolliver was Billboard Magazine’s urban contemporary program director and wrote the funk classic “I Need A Freak,” which was sampled by the Black Eyed Peas for their 2005 song, "My Humps."

Tolliver joined WZAK in 1982 and by 2000, he became the first African American to receive the Excellence in Broadcasting award from the Cleveland Association of Broadcasters.

RELATED: Atlanta News Anchor Jovita Moore Dies At 53 After Battle With Brain Cancer

His nephew Dave Tolliver said in a statement, "His influence on the radio industry is just, the way he did things was so different from everybody else in the country. I think he showed people the way to do radio to where it would bring everybody in.”

Tolliver’s cause of death was not immediately made public.

Latest News

Subscribe for BET Updates

Provide your email address to receive our newsletter.

By clicking Subscribe, you confirm that you have read and agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge our Privacy Policy. You also agree to receive marketing communications, updates, special offers (including partner offers) and other information from BET and the Paramount family of companies. You understand that you can unsubscribe at any time.