Leo Travagliante, Still The Kid
Thursday, 17 November 2011 13:50
By Bob Marrow
Every early riser at Rye Golf Club knows Leo Travagliante (although they may know him only by his first name). He is usually first off the first tee and the fastest player on the planet, finishing 18 holes in less than three hours on a regular basis. This is all the more remarkable because he has had both hips replaced and still walks several times a week, pushing his cart over the hilly city-owned course. For all his speed, he consistently shoots in the mid- to low 80s and has been known to break 80 on occasion.
While his fellow golfers call him Leo, he’s Kid Leo to thousands, and a legend in the music industry. A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Radio Television Broadcaster’s Hall of Fame of Ohio, he was also named by Rolling Stone as one of the “Heavy Hundred: The High and Mighty of the Music Industry” and by Playboy magazine as “Best Disc Jockey” in its January 1987 issue.
Born in Cleveland in 1950, he attended Cleveland State University, and right out of school, he joined Cleveland’s WMMS 100.7 FM (The Buzzard). Within two years he was the afternoon drive time DJ. He held that slot for 14 years, while being promoted to Music Director in 1977 and Operations Manager in 1986. During his years at WMMS it was one of the highest rated radio stations in the country. Leo embraced new acts and helped many artists — among them Bruce Springsteen, Cyndi Lauper, The Pretenders, and Pat Benatar — break into the Cleveland market on their way to national fame. He also helped bring the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to Cleveland, for which he was honored with the Key to the City in 1990.
Leo’s work on-air can be seen today on YouTube and is part of the permanent radio exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
After leaving WMMS, Leo became Vice President of Artist Development for Columbia Records, where he strengthened the alternative, jazz, metal, and dance departments. He was the label liaison with the Rolling Stones “Steel Wheels” tour, working with the band and their management for Columbia Records. He instituted the first promotion department at a major label dedicated solely to the Adult Album Alternative format. After leaving Columbia in 2002, he formed his own consulting agency, LJT Entertainment, right in Rye, and assists clients such as Columbia, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Renegade Nation.
He now works as the Program Director for Steven Van Zandt (who was part of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street Band as well as Silvio in “The Sopranos”) at SIRIUS XM Radio’s Underground Garage (channel 21). Kid Leo is still on-the-air weekday afternoons from 4 until 7 p.m. Fortunately for Leo, and those who know him at Rye Golf Club, his busy schedule leaves time for a speedy early morning round of golf several days a week.
“Rye has been good to us,” said Mr. Travagliante. “Both of our kids graduated from Rye High. Dion was on the golf team at Rye High and now carries a 2-handicap while working as an executive at FactSet, a financial services firm in Austin, Tex. Valeri is a manager working with artists for The Orchard, a music company specializing in digital delivery. My wife Jackie and I love it here.”