Louis Appell Jr. spurred Live's radio success from behind curtains
The philanthropic businessman liked the band from its beginnings, and quietly gave it a strong radio presence in the early 1990s.
It confused Live's manager when the band's first single, "Operation Spirit," was added to rotations on jazz, country, rock and talk stations around the country, Live guitarist Chad Taylor recalled on Live's Facebook page.
The band's record label had never seen a song play on so many radio formats, but the "barely known band" gladly accepted the newfound publicity, Taylor's post explains.
The 1991 song had hit the airwaves after a radio entrepreneur authorized many stations to add it to their playlists, Taylor chronicled. As it turned out, all the stations were part of Susquehanna Radio Corporation and were controlled by Louis Appell Jr. Appell, who owned one of the country's largest radio chains at the time, died Monday at the age of 92.
Taylor's post came amid a public wave of remembrance and condolences for Appell, a man that was every bit as philanthropic and humble as he was wealthy and powerful.
"This is how Mr. Appell preferred to use his considerable influence — quietly, behind the scenes with absolutely no fanfare," Taylor's post continues.
Sitting inside a 210 York St. studio named in Appell's honor Tuesday afternoon, Taylor spoke candidly about Appell's impact on him, his business ventures and York as a community alongside Bill Hynes, CEO and founder of United Fiber and Data.
Appell saw Live as being a great local magnet, Taylor said, like a carrot to dangle and draw attention or attract investors. He described the philanthropic businessman as a "Godfather figure" for York, and someone who was never afraid to take a problem and address it head on.
Once Taylor, his bandmates and other business partners such as Hynes began investing in York, Appell was a phone call away and always willing to offer his support or opinion. He was blunt, Taylor said, and he always told it how it was.
Appell stayed several steps ahead of people in the board room. No matter how hard you tried to have your stuff together going into a meeting, Appell would point out something you hadn't considered, Taylor and Hynes said. They've worked with businessmen all around the world, but none rivaled Appell's intelligence or shrewdness.
He instilled confidence in people he worked with, and that made him special, Taylor said. "He truly was the word, 'mentor.'"
Contact Mark Walters at 717-771-2032 or follow him on Twitter at @walt_walters.