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Vocal anti-vaccine broadcaster dies from COVID-19 complications

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Sunday, 08 August, 2021, 22:18
Vocal anti-vaccine broadcaster dies from COVID-19 complications

Former South Florida talk show host Dick Farrel, known and beloved by fans for his over-the-top right-wing opinions, has died from complications from COVID-19.

On Facebook, Farrel advocated against getting the coronavirus vaccine and was skeptical of Dr. Anthony Fauci, Chief of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, and his recommendations concerning the coronavirus. Friends said after contracting the virus he changed his point of view.

Friends say Dick Farrel encouraged them to get the vaccine after he was infected.

"COVID took one of my best friends! RIP Dick Farrel. He is the reason I took the shot. He texted me and told me to 'Get it!' He told me this virus is no joke and he said, "I wish I had gotten it!" said Farrel's close friend Amy Leigh Hair on her Facebook page. She told WPTV, "I was one of one the people like him who didn't trust the vaccine. I trusted my immune system. I just became more afraid of getting COVID-19 than I was of any possible side effects of the vaccine. I'm glad I got vaccinated."

Former Market General Manager for CBS Radio West Palm Beach, Lee Strasser, remembered Farrel, whom he hired in the 1990s. "Dick was flamboyant, outrageous at times, and willing to take on any and all comers. He loved to engage with local politicians and pulled no punches," he said. "Was he right all the time? No... But he was "RIGHT" all the time, especially if you asked him. Did he stay out of trouble? Not always. Was he great with clients? Yes. Was he a pleasure in the building? Absolutely. Was he loyal? Unquestionably! Was he skilled? Yessir! His passing is a big loss. He was a kind-hearted person with a load of passion, and his memory will stand the test of time. We have all lost a friend in Farrel."

Radio veteran, and life-long friend, George Kalman, said, "We became such close friends that he would always call me for advice when applying for jobs or anything pertaining to radio. I was like a big brother to him. As I told [WPTV NewsChannel 5] on the phone I owned WFLN AM in Arcadia and WJUP FM in Jupiter. He did the morning show on WJUP and I did the afternoon show. For WFLN, Farrel was Production Director. After I retired and sold my stations in 2016 Farrel, went on to anchor for Newsmax and did voiceover work. Before I left for New York City [this] May he came over to my house in Jupiter for a bar-b-que and was doing fine. [The] problem is COVID got him.

"Dick was a pioneer 'shock talk' host, certainly here in South Florida, and a loyal friend both personally and to listeners here for decades," said Mick McCabe Creative Director of Hubbard South Florida.

Former 98.7 The Gater radio personality Taylor Morgan said, "While we were polar opposites politically, we were still friends. We go back more than 20 years. Dick was a big fan of my father, Jerry Williams, a 50-year [Boston] radio broadcasting veteran. Because of that, we became friends. He was always very kind to me and always had a great story to tell. This makes me so sad."

Those closest to Farrel say his fighting spirit was there until the end.

"...He fought like a tiger. Please don't put off getting attention for this illness. Yes, for some it has minimal effects, but others it is deadly. We will always love Dick Farrel, always appreciate his spirit, and miss him greatly. He was known as the other Rush Limbaugh. With a heavy heart, I can only say this was so unexpected. He will be missed," said his life partner Kit Farley on Facebook.

Broadcaster Jay Zegar, formally of 98.7 The Gater, said, “I worked with Dick when I first got into radio and learned so many things from him. I was not into politics but it was very interesting to be a part of his show each week. A situation came up once where he did me a favor that made a difference in my career. We weren’t friends and he really didn’t have to do it but it showed his compassion underneath the gruff radio personality. It’s something I never forgot and was always grateful to him for it.”

Dick Farrel's Obituary by George Kalman:
Farrel Austin Levitt was known to his many friends and family as Dick Farrel passed at 3:30 p.m. August 4. Farrel was born to Max and Norma Levitt on August 1, 1956 in Queens, New York where he grew up. He graduated from Queens College and went on to a lucrative career in radio. With his deep voice, Farrel did fill-in work at stations on Long Island before landing a job as morning man on WVIP FM Westchester, N. Y. After spinning records at WVIP for a number of years Farrel moved on to talk radio as the midday personality at WJNO West Palm Beach. Later on Farrel worked at a number of prominent Florida radio stations including WIOD in Miami, WPBR in Palm Beach, WJUP FM in Jupiter, WFLN in Arcadia. Farrel also served as an anchor on Newsmax TV and was the voice of many commercials he did for clients and ad agencies. He is survived by his partner of many years and the love of his life Kitty Farley. Farrel will be greatly missed by all that knew and loved him.