Hy Lit, 73, one of Philadelphia's pioneer disc jockeys, died yesterday at Paoli Memorial Hospital of what his son termed "bizarre complications" after a knee injury.
Sam Lit said his father fell on Nov. 4 and was admitted to Lankenau Hospital to have the knee drained. What followed, the son said, was a "terrible situation that should have never happened."
Over the next week and a half, the DJ, heavily sedated, was transferred to Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital and, on Thursday, to Paoli Memorial, Sam Lit said.
A spokeswoman for Paoli Memorial last night referred questions to Mr. Lit's family. No cause of death has been announced.
Hy Lit, who lived in Lower Merion, had suffered in recent years from Parkinson's disease, but his son said it hadn't slowed him down. Father and son had started a music Web site, www.hylitradio.com. Mr. Lit had cut audio for the site the day before he went into the hospital.
"This should not have happened," Sam Lit said last night. "We didn't have to lose him now."
"Hyski," or "Hyski O'Rooney McVoutie O'Zoot," as he called himself - or Hyman Lit, as he was born in South Philadelphia - came of age with rock-and-roll, in an era when disc jockeys talkedlikethis.
Mr. Lit, whose family moved from Fifth and Ritner Streets to 46th Street and Osage Avenue when he was young, got started in the business in 1955, fresh out of the University of Miami.
He flourished in radio alongside such popular Philadelphia DJs of the early rock era as Frank X. Feller, Dean Tyler, Jimmy Bishop, and Joe Niagara.
Mr. Lit's biography credits Georgie Woods, another influential radio personality, with saving him one night during an early appearance, when the mostly African American audience did not believe that the white man at the microphone truly was Hy Lit.
It's said that in the 1960s, Mr. Lit's nighttime show on "Wibbage" (WIBG) drew three-quarters of the listening audience, many under covers defying parents' direct orders to shut off that music and go to bed.
The roster of Mr. Lit's stations - WHAT, WRCV, WIBG, WDAS-FM, WPGR, WSNI and WOGL - reads like a roll call of Philadelphia music. Mr. Lit also had the distinction on Aug. 15, 1990, of launching the oldies format on WCAU (1210).
"Hi, this is Hy Lit. Welcome to Oldies 1210," he said, leading into "Rock and Roll Is Here to Stay." His signature tunes were "Quarter to Three" by Gary U.S. Bonds and the instrumental "A Night with Daddy 'G' " by the Church Street Five.
Mr. Lit was on hand for much rock-and-roll history as it played out in Philadelphia. He played Rolling Stones music early on and accompanied the Beatles to the city in 1964.
A dashing figure with a face for television, he also hosted dance shows on WKBS in Philadelphia and a New York station.
Another longtime fixture in local radio, disc jockey Jerry Blavat, last night called Mr. Lit's death "the end of the era for personality radio."
"I would be nothing if not for him," said Joe "Butterball" Tamburro, program director of WDAS, whom Mr. Lit took under his wing in the early 1960s. Tamburro remembered Mr. Lit as a "fascinating, dynamic impresario."
"There's a piece of Hy Lit in all of us," said DJ Bob Pantano last night from his dance party, a concept that Mr. Lit embraced and helped to develop in the late 1950s. "My greatest thrill was working with him."
"Here's a guy who made it for all of us," said Don Cannon, another radio personality. "He was kind of wild back then."
Cannon supervised Mr. Lit in the 1990s at WSNI, "and he was always trying to take the edge on me. I used to tell him, 'If you had a 25-year-old program director here, you'd be out on your butt.' He could get away with it. Everyone wanted to be Hy."
In recent years, Mr. Lit endured financial strain, and friends rallied around him with fund-raisers. After his last station, WOGL, reduced his hours, Mr. Lit sued it for age discrimination. The case was settled in December 2005. Mr. Lit then retired.
Jim Loftus, general manager of WOGL, said, "It's a sad day for Philadelphia and a sad day for radio. He was one of a kind."
His son last night called him "the magic man. When he spoke, people listened. People were interested in what he had to say. A lot of people say that anyone can spin records. That's wrong. There's a science to it. He knew it."
His many honors include a spot on the Avenue of the Arts Walk of Fame; the first March of Dimes Lifetime Achievement of Radio Award in 1994; an AIR Award for best show in 1997; and Radio and Records magazine's Oldies Personality of the Year for 1999. He also was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2003.
Besides his son, he is survived by a daughter, Benna, three grandchildren, and a sister. Mr. Lit was divorced from the former Miriam Uniman in the 1970s. His second wife, Maggie, died in 2000.
Sam Lit said funeral arrangements were incomplete last night.
See video of Hy Lit's induction into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Hall of Fame via http://go.philly.com/hylit