Solomon “Kal” Rudman, the longtime publisher of the Friday Morning Quarterback and a philanthropist since the 1990s, died Nov. 30. He was 91.
His wife, Lucille (née Steinhauer), died two days later. She was 92.
The outspoken North Philadelphia native wore many hats during his career, starting as a special education teacher, becoming a Top 40 disc jockey in Camden, New Jersey, and even calling the action – dubbed as “Killer Kal” — for the then-World Wrestling Federation’s shows on the PRISM cable network.
All that led to more than 30 appearances on “The Merv Griffin Show,” as well as “Today,” where he was a regular guest. It also resulted in a Forbes 1972 Person of the Year, Entertainment Industry award and a plaque along Broad Street as part of the Philadelphia Music Alliance’s Walk of Fame.
Rudman was probably best known for the Friday Morning Quarterback, the influential trade publication he founded in 1968 in his basement — and where he served as publisher until early 2020 when he retired the tip sheet’s name and sold its assets to Deane Media Solutions.
“I personally worked with Kal and Lucille for a good portion of my career during my FMQB tenure, and have always had the fondest and warmest relationship with both of them,” Fred Deane wrote in a tribute to his friend. ”Kal was, in the truest sense, a legend and an original. He was an innovator, a scholar, and a very generous philanthropist and humanitarian
Rudman and his wife, Lucille, created a go-to publication for radio programmers who wanted to know what the next big hit would be — “Go-rillas,” in Rudman’s singular terminology. Rudman had, over the years, claimed credit for getting the likes of Barry Manilow, Madonna and Hall & Oates on the air.
“I was the main force in all the areas of the pop-music portion of the overall culture of the United States in the latter half of the 20th century,” Rudman said in a 2012 Jewish Exponent article.
In a 2009 book by Danny Goldberg, “Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business,” Bruce Springsteen credited Rudman with helping him reach the Top 10 with a single for the first time.
“Kal explained to me that Top 40 radio is mainly listened to by girls and that my female demographic was low,” Springsteen said. “And I thought about the songs on ‘Darkness (on the Edge of Town’), and I realized that the lyrics really were mostly for and about guys. So on this new album I’m working on — there are some songs for girls.”
Springsteen’s next album, “The River,” featured the song “Hungry Heart,” which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In his tribute to Rudman, Deane quoted Clive Davis, the former head of Columbia Records, who is also a five-time Grammy Award winner.
“Kal was a man who was truly passionate about music and he communicated that passion so enthusiastically and so colorfully,” Davis said. “For many vibrant years, his voice was distinctively heard by everyone working in music. Kal was indeed one of a kind.”
Scott Shannon, a syndicated national radio deejay also chimed in on Deane’s tribute.
“I made it a point to talk to him every week before I finalized my music, and I knew I could always get an honest read from him. He broke more records than any other publication of that era, was a true pioneer of our business, a very colorful character and networking genius to the extent that many of his methods of doing business have endured up until today,” Shannon said. “I was a big fan, he was instrumental in my career, and I loved him dearly.”
Later in life, Rudman got involved in philanthropy, founding the Kal and Lucille Rudman Foundation and donating millions to various causes, especially those focusing on medicine and education. Beneficiaries included Temple University’s Klein College of Media and Communication, Drexel University, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and the Jewish Community Services Building, among many others.
When asked about the origins of his philanthropy in a 2016 Exponent interview, Rudman answered in a deep voice that pronounced every syllable — reminding you of why he succeeded as a DJ and as an on-air personality.
“Because I can,” he said, joking that philanthropy is easier than other endeavors. “I don’t want to write a book. Too many people would have to leave the country.”
In a 2017 Exponent article, Lucille Rudman explained the value of sponsoring a program where 24 South Jersey high school students participated in training at the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine.
“We don’t necessarily believe that all students who go through these programs will wind up in the medical field, although many do,” she said. “But if they don’t, they have nevertheless learned good work habits, a sense of responsibility, a sense of empathy for what others do in the medical field so that whatever course their lives take, this experience stands them in good stead.”
The Rudmans are survived by son Mitchell Rudman and niece Maxine Hirschbein.
Kal Rudman in 2016
Photo by Andy Gotlieb
Kal Rudman and his wife, Lucille, published Friday Morning Quarterback for more than 50 years.
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