Steve Kass

Inducted: 2023
Born: 1937

Moderator, disc jockey, and radio and television personality Steve Kass has served the local broadcast industry for over fifty years. He began broadcasting as a disc jockey on WRIB in 1958 and immediately changed his name from Katz to Kass. “I changed my name when I became a rock and roll DJ on WRIB radio. My Dad was a prominent supervisor at the RI Juvenile Court. I was doing record hops and rock concerts. There were occasional acts of violence. I did not want any negative publicity to affect him in any way. There was also lots of Anti Semitism, and lots of DJs with Jewish last names did the same,” Steve explained. He spent most of his career as a radio and television talk show host and moderator. Most of that time was spent on legendary Providence talk-radio outlets WHJJ and WPRO and as host of the popular long-standing Rhode Island Public Broadcasting program “A Lively Experiment.”

On WHJJ, Steve worked with Sherm Strickhouser (RIHHOF Class of 1992) to create two of the most successful radio broadcast programs in the history of Rhode Island radio. On WPRO AM, Steve was selected to replace the retired morning show legend Salty Brine (RI HHOF Class of 1979) and produced record ratings leading to the program’s expansion to six hours daily.

Steve was the first host of “The Lively Experiment,” Rhode Island’s most prominent news, commentary, and political analysis television production. He held that post for eighteen years. He left the broadcast industry to become Governor Donald Carcieri’s Director of Communications from 2005 to 2008, then became the Director of Communications for the Rhode Island Emergency Management Association from 2008 to 2011.

Steve was born in Providence on June 8, 1937, the son of Eve and George Katz. About his father, George, Steve says the following: “To understand me, you have to understand my father. He dedicated his life to helping people.” Steve Kass grew up on Providence’s East Side. His father headed up an orphanage and went on to become the chief intake supervisor of what became the Rhode Island Juvenile Court. Later, he was Executive Director of the Big Brothers of Rhode Island and, subsequently, the National Big Brothers. “He was determined to make a difference,” says Steve, “and he did. I don’t know anyone in the country who affected more lives. He is my hero.” George Katz was elected to the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 1995.

Like his father, Steve served as Director of Big Brothers & Big Sisters, from 2011 to 2020. Eighty to 85 percent of inner-city youths are born to single moms, according to Kass. “So many young boys lack a father figure in their lives. This is the only program that can have an impact on that.” His community involvements go well beyond Big Brothers. Bradley Hospital, the March of Dimes, the Tomorrow Fund, the Allan Feinstein Foundation, Adult Literacy, and the Rhode Island Society to Prevent Cruelty to Animals have all benefitted from Steve’s commitment to serving his community. Steve waged a ten-year crusade to save elephants from circus cruelty and abuse, culminating with the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus ending the use of elephants and wild animals in their performances. He also led the Carousel Commission that saved the world-famous Looff Carousel in East Providence’s former Crescent Park Amusement Center.

Interspersed between his professional broadcast career and community efforts, Steve also launched entrepreneurial ventures, beginning in the 1960s with Rhode Island Picture Frame. He also created multi-state pet care centers. Those initiatives continue today with his 3D perspective, an immersive, interactive, technology-driven business capturing dynamic images for the real estate industry with numerous additional business applications.

Steve is married to Deb (Morais.) Kass. He has three married children: twins Randy (wife Sabrina) and Don (wife Christina) and a younger son Bob (wife Cindy). Steve has three grandchildren: Lizzie, George, and Tina.

Steve Kass was inducted into The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame in 2023.

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