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Little Rock radio host, newspaper columnist, activist Pat Lynch dies at 70

by Cynthia Howell | February 25, 2021 at 7:56 a.m.

Joseph "Pat" Lynch, 70, a former long-time Little Rock radio personality, newspaper columnist, champion of civil liberties and, later in life, activist in the orthodox Anglican church, died Wednesday.

Lynch's wife, Marie Lynch, announced her husband's passing in a social media post.

"Pat is with Jesus! Today!" Marie Lynch wrote in the Facebook post. "He's walking, talking, and right there in God's presence!"

Lynch himself wrote on Facebook on Jan. 27 that he was being hospitalized with pneumonia.

It was as the 9 a.m.- to-noon host of a radio talk show on KARN-AM 920, beginning in 1983, that Lynch endeared himself to some Central Arkansas listeners, angered others and informed all with his pointed commentary and interviews of the state's politicians and policymakers.

" I think he was one of the finest interviewers and writers in Arkansas broadcasting," said Neal Gladner about Lynch who, in addition to radio work, wrote a weekly opinion column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Voices page from 2000 to 2011.

Gladner was news and program director and later general manager for KARN.

He and Lynch worked together on the West Coast prior to Gladner following Lynch to Arkansas and to KARN.

People would tell Lynch that he asked tough questions, Gladner said Wednesday, and Lynch's standard response was, "You can't hit a home run if I don't throw you a fast ball."

"That was the only thing Pat knew about baseball," Gladner also said. "He didn't care very much about sports."

Gladner recalled Lynch's on-air birthday celebrations, the annual Aug. 5 "Patfest Parade."

"It only existed on the radio but was so artfully produced that it would cause people to call the radio station because they wanted to take people to the parade," Gladner said of the hour-long event.

Lynch described for his listeners the line up of floats from various Arkansas organizations -- each carrying the celebrities and dignitaries of the day -- all on hand in his honor.

"'Here comes the such-and-such float and look who is sitting up there', he would say," Gladner said.

Lynch worked at KARN until 2000, when he was fired after a 17-year run. In a 2010 interview, he made no apologies for his biting banter.

"To successfully hold on to a show for as long as I did, you cannot do it by being vanilla," he told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette's Paper Trails column in 2010. "You have to serve up different flavors. You have to be something different from everything else out there."

His radio work continued for a time as host of shows on KABZ-FM, 103.7, and Arkansas Priority Radio Network's KDXE, 1380 AM.

Lynch grew up in Mobile, Ala., where he attended the same McGill High School, a Catholic school for boys, that singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett attended.

Lynch worked in radio in Oklahoma and the state of Washington before arriving in Arkansas. He was a country music disc jockey in Montana, according to his autobiographical information.

In Arkansas, Lynch became affiliated with the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and served for six years as the state's representative to the national organization's board of directors.

Rita Sklar, the retired executive director of the state chapter, said that position required Lynch to travel to national meetings to participate in "fascinating, wonky civil liberties issues for hours on end."

Sklar, an occasional guest on Lynch's radio show, called Lynch interesting, a real intellect, and a lot of fun to be around.

"He was an entertainer, like Rush Limbaugh was an entertainer, but sane and like-minded," Sklar said of the views on civil rights that they shared. "I loved him."

Lynch said in a "Lynch At Large" online post about himself that he had interviewed "all matter of dignitaries" in his career including Captain Kangaroo, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Tiny Tim and from the Los Angeles Dodgers organization, Manager Tommy Lasorda and announcer Vin Scully.

Lynch eventually left the radio business and turned his focus to the Anglican church. He became a member of St. Andrew's Anglican Church and earned a diploma in theological studies from the Anglican School of Ministry in Little Rock.

"When I got into radio," he told the Democrat-Gazette in 2010, "I bought into the whole 'I am the captain of my own ship, responsible for my own self' thing. Winning through intimidation was the American culture."

But Lynch told the Democrat-Gazette he was not happy, and that the pressure of deadlines and being in the public eye led him to drink heavily and to look for a way out of Arkansas.

"Then, I met my wife, Marie, and started drinking less."

"This doesn't mean I'm no longer a nasty rattlesnake," he said in 2010. "It just means I'm a nasty rattlesnake who's one of God's creatures."

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