Zvi Shoubin, the Maryland Public Television chief programming executive who created the rock 'n' roll afternoon must-see — the "Buddy Deane Show" — in 1957, died Saturday at Union Memorial Hospital of kidney disease. The Pikesville resident was 86.
Born in Baltimore and raised in East Baltimore and Forest Park, he was the son of Samuel Shoubin, an owner of the Crown movie theater on Washington Boulevard and Schanze's, later the Morgan, on Pennsylvania Avenue. His mother was Anna Barbalot, a homemaker.
As a young man he was known as Harry Shoubin. He later used Zvi, the name he was given at birth. He was a 1945 graduate of Forest Park High School, where he was active in drama and played soccer and table tennis. He earned a bachelor's degree at the University of Maryland, College Park.
While serving in the Army, he was sent to Panama and, while there, was trained in radio. After leaving military service he joined the old WAAM-TV, now WJZ-TV. He was a go-fer, camera operator and assistant program director. He occasionally directed "Romper Room," the children's morning program hosted by Nancy Claster.
While at the station he created the "Buddy Deane Show," based on the popular "American Bandstand." The "Buddy Deane Show" was an afternoon rock 'n' roll dance program that was an inspiration for "Hairspray" in both its film and Broadway versions. Soon after Mr. Shoubin launched the show, it swept local television ratings.
"My father was always looking for what was new. Personally, he didn't care much for rock 'n' roll. He liked Frank Sinatra and Harry Bellefonte, folk music or the big bands," said his daughter, BethAmy Speert of Reisterstown. "He had a huge record collection."
Colleagues said Mr. Shoubin later owned a production company that made television programs for syndication, including "Dance Party USA."
He spent more than six decades in television — he never retired — and moved around as stations changed hands and new managers took over. He held television posts in New Haven, Conn., and at WFIL in Philadelphia. He served at WNEW in New York, where he booked the comedian Soupy Sales.
In 1966 he joined WVUE in New Orleans. He soon realized the city had a late night television audience. In order to win viewers, he moved the local news to the 11 p.m. slot. He ran the legal-detective show, "Perry Mason" at 10 p.m. to compete against other news programs. The strategy worked. While in New Orleans, he earned a master's degree at Loyola University. He also taught communications.
In 1974 he joined WMAQ-TV in Chicago and later worked at WPHL in Philadelphia.
He joined MPT IN 1996 and worked there until his death. He was responsible for the acquisition and scheduling of what viewers see on MPT's three channels. He was managing director of the MPT Networks.
"He is a legend in this business," said Larry D. Unger, president and chief executive officer of MPT. "Zvi had a real feel for what the public wanted. His batting average was very good, whether in commercial or public television. He loved competing against the commercial stations."
Colleagues said Mr. Shoubin would recommend programs for MPT based on his evaluation of recent industry trends, audience research data, and viewer expectations and acceptance.
Mr. Shoubin enjoyed reading the British murder mysteries he booked for MPT. He also was a Baltimore Symphony Orchestra subscriber. He attended productions at the Morris A. Mechanic Theatre, the Hippodrome and Center Stage.
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He served on the boards of the National Association of Television Program Executives and the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences. He won four Emmys and a Peabody Award.
"My father worked until he died," said his daughter. "He never felt like it was work; he enjoyed it so much."
In addition to his daughter, survivors include a son, Jason Shoubin of Pikesville; another daughter, Steffanie Harris of Harrison, N.Y.; a sister, Shoshana Cardin of Pikesville; and five grandchildren. His wife of 32 years, the former Arlene Becker, an artist, died in 1992.
Services were held Sunday at Sol Levinson and Bros. He was a member of Beth El Congregation in Pikesville.