Paul J. BartishevichPaul J. Bartishevich, a bull of a man at the summit of his powers with a loving family in his charge, perished some time Friday morning at home, apparently of a heart attack. He was 53.

Bartishevich, of 7615 Willow Creek Road, Trumansburg, leaves a legion of grief-stricken friends, colleagues and admirers, all of them in a state of stunned disbelief, in the wake of his sudden departure.

Paul was born with an affinity for journalism – and particularly broadcast radio, the latter to become both his avocation and his professional calling card. The son of Charles and Ruth (Austin) Bartishevich, he began his lifelong love affair with broadcast radio at Lyons High School, where he learned to modulate a sonorous authoritative presence behind the microphone reciting the school’s morning announcements. Throughout his teens he worked as a disk jockey in Newark and Rochester, New York and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in communications from SUNY Oswego, in 1981.

Three short years later he married Karen Youngs, his high school sweetheart, and in 1984 the couple settled in Syracuse, NY, where Paul began his broadcasting career in earnest. He served a stint as news anchor at WSYR Radio there in the Salt City before taking a related job at Cornell University.

An entrepreneur at heart, and an intrepid one, Paul founded his own business in Ithaca in 1987: Finger Lakes Productions International (FLPI). He served as its chief executive officer of FLPI to the hour of his unexpected death – two dozen years of solid performance in a variety of radio formats that comprise a resume full of innovation, excellence and competence across a variety of wide-ranging fields. FLPI produced and distributed daily radio programming to more than 120 countries and territories via the Voice of America and American Forces Radio, as well as programming for National Public Radio affiliates nationwide. These include many programs that are household names to area residents: Bird Watch (later expanded to Nature Watch), Animal Instincts, Ocean Report, which evolved into Our Ocean World, EnvironMinute, Microbeworld, and a slate of others that represented Paul’s deep commitment to public education in the areas of science, nature and technology. He recruited the best local writing talent he could corral to assist in his goal of breaking-down complex concepts in science, technology and the environment into language listeners at all levels of education could understand –– often in less than 60 seconds. His relationships with contacts in advertising, government and academia were long-lived and based on trust and mutual admiration. FLPI, often on a shoestring budget, produced some of the finest work of its kind anywhere in the field of broadcast journalism.

A staunch believer in the power of Public Service Announcements, Paul’s enterprise also produced campaigns on behalf of the National Interagency Fire Centers; the Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement; the American Red Cross, New York Forest Owners Association, Welvista (topics on the importance of long-term care planning), and the Kicks Count Campaign (preventing still-births), which won a Hermes Creative Award. FLPI also was selected, during the Bush, Sr. and Clinton administrations, to lead corporate sponsorship and privatization initiatives on behalf of the Voice of America. In 1998, FLPI founded and launched the Radio Voyager Network (RVN), which became the first English-language commercial radio network to broadcast throughout Europe. Paul moved FLPI into digital publishing in 2010 with the launch of thewww.HearTheAnswer.com, an integrated marketing initiative. Paul’s most recent dream was the formation of a new company, which he named after his long-standing friend and mentor, Howard “Chavo” Bell. Chavo Digital Media was incorporated by Paul in May 2012. On Paul’s passing, Bell, past president of the American Advertising Federation and Chair of the National Advertising Review Board, said “there was no one for whom I had more respect as a business executive, a sentiment shared by many leaders in the industry. He was an inspiration to me and so many others for his passion to do good deeds and good work.”

Paul’s relationships continued well beyond his work at FLPI; he mentored young people and with unparalleled enthusiasm, shared his experience sponsoring internships and job interview training sessions. Each of his interns was presented with a copy of Napoleon Hill’s “Think and Grow Rich,” an inspirational business text Paul turned to again and again in his quest to succeed as a small businessman in a cutthroat industry. He also served as an inspired guest lecturer at both Cornell University and Ithaca College, where his singular talent for communications energized hundreds of students and listeners. In addition, Paul led innumerable community volunteer and fundraising efforts, often combining these events with his mad-love of cooking. Paul was a foodie and it brought him great pleasure to serve as chef d’haute for large groups of people, fostering with food and refreshment and camaraderie, a deep sense of community. One of Paul’s favorite events was the annual church picnic at the Bartishevich family barn for members of the First Presbyterian Church of Ulysses, a clamorous bout of fun and good cheer that all members enjoyed tremendously. Too, he was famous for orchestrating gatherings with his extended family where his legendary exuberance and joie de vivre made so many of these get-togethers cherished memories. Paul also went out of his way to perform small but quiet kindnesses for those in need. He relished bringing comfort food (borscht was his specialty), red roses (his favorite), or kind words of encouragement to people whom, he learned through the grapevine, needed a boost. And he was gifted with the ability to somehow cheer the glummest heart and uplift the discouraged.

While Paul cared deeply for everyone in his life, his central focus and deepest commitment was to his wife Karen, and four children, Benn, Jay, Alec, and Anna Bartishevich. Paul was an ever-present and lively spectator at his children’s many sporting, musical and school events. He was a proud husband and father and was quick to share a picture or story about his children’s many activities or accomplishments. Paul’s love of music spanned all genres from rock to mood music, to oldies and classical – and he liked his music LOUD. He loved (and excelled at) music trivia and was a collector of antique radios. He adored his family pets; his dog Myla held a special place in his heart. A student of local and global current events, Paul thoroughly enjoyed a spirited political debate, providing articulate – and vociferous – opinions, while managing to maintain a healthy respect for opposing viewpoints.

Finally, Paul loved his family’s rustic country home, Pinecliff Farm, and frequently said he felt privileged to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth. He was a dynamo, a passionate family man, and loving husband. He will be missed by all who knew him and all whose lives passed within the sphere of his good influence.

 In addition to his immediate Trumansburg family, Paul is survived by his mother, Ruth Bartishevich; brother, Sergei (Paula) Bartishevich; sister, Lynne (Loren) Maslyn; five nieces and nephews, Charlie Bartishevich, Staci Santelli, Amy Kemp, Erin Maslyn, and Brian Maslyn; a number of great-nieces and nephews, numerous cousins, two wonderful aunts, and many dear friends and business colleagues. He was preceded in death by his father, Charles, and brother Richard Bartishevich.

The family will be present to receive friends from 5 to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 6, at the Ness-Sibley Funeral Home, 23 South Street, Trumansburg. A Memorial Service will be held at 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, at the First Presbyterian Church of Ulysses, 69 E. Main Street, Trumansburg, with the Rev. Cheryl Peeples officiating. Prayers of committal will immediately follow in Grove Cemetery.

The family asks those who wish to remember Paul in the form of a contribution to kindly consider the American Red Cross, 201 West Clinton St., Ithaca, NY 14850 or the American Cancer Society, 13 Beech St., Johnson City, NY 13790.