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Tibor Paul, 1926 - 2007

Emigre hosted radio show of European polkas, waltzes

December 20, 2007|Valerie J. Nelson | Times Staff Writer

Tibor Paul, the German-speaking host of a popular weekly radio program that featured European marches, waltzes and polkas and was a longtime fixture on KPCC-FM (89.3), died Dec. 10 at Sharp Memorial Hospital in San Diego. He was 81.

The cause of death was pancreatic cancer and complications related to diabetes, his son, Alex, said.

By 2000, Paul's four-hour broadcast was known as the "European Sunday Concert" and had aired for more than 25 years on KPCC.

"We always marveled at the audience response to the program. There was nothing else on the air like it, and people made an appointment to tune it in," said Larry Mantle, host of "Air Talk" on KPCC, who was the station's program director for part of Paul's tenure.

Resi Langsfeld, president of the German American League of Los Angeles County, said that the community "couldn't wait . . . to listen to his program. He played music that most of the Germans living here had grown up with. It's still being missed. He is part of our history."

Upon arriving in Los Angeles from Germany in the late 1950s, Paul became involved in the tightly knit, then-thriving German communities.

In 1966, he began his German American broadcast on KMAX, which was then a small FM station in Pasadena, and landed at KPCC in 1974. His show left the air in 2000 as Pasadena-based KPCC turned into an all-news and talk outlet.

Drawing on his extensive collection of recordings, Paul mixed in some English but mainly spoke Hungarian-accented German as he highlighted events in the German American community.

"He saw what he did as a cultural mission," Mantle said. "And his uniqueness enabled him to connect in a passionate way with his audience."

In 1997, Germany awarded Paul the Cross of the Order of Merit, which is given to individuals who support German culture.

Tibor Josef Paul was born Sept. 14, 1926, in Hungary and apprenticed in his uncle's butcher shop.

After being drafted by the German military near the end of World War II, Paul was wounded and held captive for three years in Yugoslavia. He spent another three years working at a slate mine in Serbia, then moved to Hamburg, Germany.

In 1958, Paul answered an advertisement for a butcher placed by a Sherman Oaks restaurant and immigrated here.

For 30 years, he worked as a butcher in Vernon's meatpacking district.

A longtime resident of Downey, Paul moved to San Diego to be near his son after his wife of 35 years, Maryann, died in 2003. His son is his sole survivor.

A memorial service will be held in Los Angeles at 10 a.m. Saturday at St. Stephen Church, 3705 Woodlawn Ave.

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