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Barry K. Young, a career Baltimore public schools educator and general manager of WEAA FM Radio, dies

Dr. Barry Keith Young was a former general manager of WEAA FM Radio.
Dr. Barry Keith Young was a former general manager of WEAA FM Radio.

Barry K. Young, a career Baltimore City Public Schools educator and administrator who taught English at the Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West, a West Baltimore charter school for males, and earlier had been general manager of WEAA FM Radio, died of COVID-19 Oct. 28 at Sinai Hospital. The resident of Baltimore’s Glen neighborhood was 69.

“I’ve known Barry a long time and that goes back to the early 1980s,” said U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who had been program director at WEAA. “I was deeply saddened to learn of his passing and my heart goes out to his wife Margo and his entire family. This is a real shocker.”

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He added: “He was an amazing talent and a self-assured man. He was a gentleman’s gentleman who had the ability to make everyone around him feel special and he made them better through his eloquence. Everyone loved him.”

Barry Keith Young, son of Donald K. Young Sr., a city public schools warehouseman, and his wife, Lucine A. Young, a city public schools secretary, was born in Baltimore and raised on Carey Street and later Belvieu Avenue, and graduated in 1969 from Forest Park High School.

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Mr. Young earned a bachelor’s degree in speech communication in 1975 from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in leadership teaching in 1997 from what is now Notre Dame University of Maryland. In 2011, he earned a master’s degree in bible instruction and, in 2013, obtained a doctorate in Christian education, both from the North Carolina College of Theology in Wilmington, North Carolina.

In 1980, Mr. Young began volunteering at WEAA FM Radio on the campus of Morgan State University as an on air personality and radio announcer. He became general manager in 1986, a position he retained until 1989.

Mr. Young’s arrival at WEAA came after a former general manager had embezzled funds, said John M. Wesley, who later became director of communications and media relations at the station.

“At the time, the station was $250,000 in debt and we both wrote a proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce and we received $240,000 from them, and Barry said, ‘Let’s turn this station around get a new image,’” Mr. Wesley said. “We built an anchor program, ‘News Now,’ and built other programming around it, plus we had a great group of sharp people to work with.”

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“News Now,” a news segment that featured interviews, aired at 9 a.m. “It was an interview show and we did by using a telephone to interview our guests and then put it on the radio so our listeners could hear the telephone interview.”

The two men reached out to Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, so Morgan communication students could take advantage of their equipment and studios. “He loved the students and he understood that we were a training ground,” Mr. Wesley said.

No job was too small, too big, or too mundane for Mr. Young to undertake.

“Barry would wash the floors or if someone couldn’t do or missed a shift, he’d go on-air and do it,” Mr. Wesley said. “He was friendly, outgoing, knew the city and politics. He was quite astute.”

He added: “He made sure that no one was personally benefiting from their position at the station and would say, ‘That’s not going to happen on my watch,’ and if something did happen, he wanted it to be immediately reported to him.”

Mr. Young started working in city public schools in 1992 as a language arts teacher at the Alternative Learning Center, a position he held until 1995 when he became an English teacher at Southwestern High School.

“Barry was a leader and it didn’t surprise me at all that he left WEAA to become a teacher,” Mr. Wesley said.

In 2001, Mr. Young moved to school headquarters to become director of the Abacus Curriculum program that customized curriculum-based teaching software that aided teachers in lesson planning and daily instruction. A year later, he became a technology support teacher in 2002 at Robert Poole Middle School in Hampden, assisting teachers in creating and applying curriculum instruction using computers. He also oversaw computer operations maintenance.

From 2004 to 2008, he worked as a technology administrator at William C. March Middle School in East Baltimore where he coordinated and trained staff in implementing instructional software. Other responsibilities included editing and producing a monthly parent and community newsletter.

He was business manager at William C. March from 2009 to 2010, where he managed the school’s budget and directed spending. In addition to the budget, he was responsible for plant maintenance, cafeteria operations, student transportation, use of school facilities, and safety records and reports.

Mr. Young later taught English at the New Era Academy, then joined Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West in 2016 as an English teacher, a position he retained until his death.

He was an Orioles and Ravens fan and enjoyed home improvement projects, gardening, collecting technology and watching classic Hollywood westerns.

Mr. Young was also an avid golfer. He and his wife of 40 years, the former Margo Jackson, established the H. Bernie Jackson Annual Golf Tournament for male family members, which is played on Father’s Day and followed with a family dinner and the presentation of a trophy.

Mr. Young was a member of Beth-El Temple Church of Christ.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the March Tribute Center, 5616 Old Court Road, Randallstown.

He is survived by his wife, who retired in 2019 from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute where she taught French; a son, Lawrence Young of Atlanta; two stepsons, Damien Villanova of Dunkirk, Calvert County, and Bolivia “Bo” Villanova of Savannah, Georgia; two daughters, Carita Young Chinonn of Severn and Margaret Young of Glen Burnie; two brothers, Frederick H. Young of Baltimore and Rodger W. Young of Oklahoma; a sister, Theresa Smith of Randallstown; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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