Inter/Media Founder Sydney Yallen Dies at 85

Industry Innovator Was Considered a Pioneer of Direct-Response Advertising

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NEW YORK ( -- Sydney Yallen, the founder of Inter/Media Advertising, which grew into the Inter/Media Group of Companies, died February 17 as a result of a stroke. He was 85.

Sydney Yallen
Sydney Yallen Credit: Inter/Media Advertising
Mr. Yallen -- who built Encino, Calif.-based Inter/Media into a $450 million media organization with clients including Glad, Clorox Brands, Black & Decker, Sanyo, Discover Card and dozens of other leading national companies -- was considered a pioneer of the direct-response advertising industry.

Mr. Yallen began his career in the broadcast and advertising industry at the age of 13 as a part-time office boy for KFWB radio in Los Angeles, where he worked his way up through the news, production, advertising and sales departments until eventually holding the position of station manager for nine years.

A one-time All-American sprinter in high school and at College of the Pacific, Sydney Yallen graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in advertising and marketing.

Radio achievements
After serving in the Navy during World War II, attending Columbia University's Midshipman's School, he returned to KFWB, then ranked fifth in the greater Southern California Market. In 1958, Mr. Yallen introduced "Color Radio-Fabulous 40," which became the most successful radio-promotion campaign of that time. In only five weeks, KFWB became the No.1 radio station in Southern California.

Mr. Yallen would soon become exec VP of Continental International Productions, a leading syndicator of radio and television programs. Nine years later, he joined broadcast barter company Pepper and Tanner as West Coast regional manager. In 1970, he established the West Coast operations for the media-buying service Media Partners, based in New York. Upon that venture's dissolution in 1974, he formed Inter/Media.

Mr. Yallen continued to create breakthrough advertising for nearly three dozen current Inter/Media clients well past his retirement years, providing day-to-day leadership on many of the company's key accounts, overseeing the financial and administrative operations for the firm, and working to develop the agency's hallmark advertising tracking and metric systems.

Mr. Yallen also gave back to society as founder of the Inter/Media Charitable Foundation, which supports the Alzheimer's Association, as well as other organizations.

Self-made success
Mr. Yallen's son Robert, who serves as Inter/Media's president and chief operating officer, noted the high regard in which his father was seen.

"He was a depression-era kid," he said. "Totally self-made."

Mr. Yallen is survived by his wife, Penny Joyce, his son Robert, daughter-in-law Linda, and two grandchildren. The family has asked that contributions be made in his name to the Inter/Media Charitable Foundation or to the American Stroke Association.

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