Robert Jawer, who was a pioneer in local television sales and production during a storied 44-year career with KYW-TV,￼died Dec. 20. He was 91 and lived in Rydal.
After serving in World War II and while still a student at the University of Pennsylvania, Jawer packaged his first show, Miss Television of Philadelphia, an ongoing beauty contest which was aired on Philadelphia’s WPTZ, Channel 3.
Soon after came TV Kitchen, an early venture into interactive TV in which viewers wrote in for copies of the recipes demonstrated on-air.
But it was Jawer’s career that really started to cook. Philco, the electronics firm that owned the station, hired Jawer as arguably the first TV airtime salesman in the city.
Jawer could always count on family — in more ways than one. When he had trouble selling ads, he turned to his father for a little help: Jawer Auto Supply Company was his first sale.
It was just the starting point; As he described what he did for a living and the fervor with which he performed it, Jawer once noted that “a sincere account executive would be watching television shows at night looking at the competition. The worst thing to see is a salesperson just sitting there waiting for a phone to ring. That’s an order taker.”
Jawer believed in giving back. To that end, the lifelong student of the business also served as teacher, instructing in public relations and marketing at the Wharton School.
He was, in many ways, says his wife, “one of a kind.” As a teacher — besides Penn, Jawer also taught at the Charles Morris Price School for Advertising and Journalism — “he had such an influence on many of the people who are now working in the news business,” she said.
At home he always had time for his family's best interests — and fun times around a piano. Jawer was an accomplished songwriter — he penned the theme song for the combat-assigned Fifth Army Air Force — and, at home, “he composed a song to mark the birth of each of our grandchildren.”
Among other interests and activities: the B’nai B’rith Communications Chapter; the Philadelphia Advertising Club, of which he was a founder; and the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia. (He was voted into that group’s Hall of Fame nearly 20 years ago.)
Jawer was also involved with the Abington Township School Board.
He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Helene; two daughters, Judy and Anne; two sons, Bruce and Michael; and seven grandchildren.
Donations can be made to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association, with which the Jawers were active, or a charity of the donor’s choice.