Joseph Patrick (Pat) Lynch (1950–2021)

Joseph Patrick (Pat) Lynch of Little Rock (Pulaski County) was a longtime Arkansas radio personality, newspaper columnist, and advocate of civil liberties. His popular talk show in the 1980s and 1990s on Little Rock radio station KARN attracted guests including major politicians and other public figures who discussed both local and national issues. Lynch was a member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), representing Arkansas on the ACLU’s national board of directors from 1989 to 1995.

Pat Lynch was born in Mobile, Alabama, on August 5, 1950. His parents were homemaker Dorothy Rodwell Lynch and Joseph Richard Lynch, who worked for the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad. He grew up in Mobile, where he attended McGill High School, a Catholic school for boys.

Deciding not to go to college, Lynch entered the field of radio. He worked in various capacities at radio stations in Oklahoma and Washington State, becoming a popular country music DJ on KMON in Great Falls, Montana. He became a talk show host at KSPO in Spokane, Washington, where he worked from 1980 to 1983, before his arrival in Arkansas.

In Little Rock, he hosted a weekday talk show on KARN radio, beginning his seventeen-year run at the station in 1983. His program was broadcast in the 9:00 a.m. to noon timeslot, with Lynch endearing himself to some listeners while angering others. Along with informing his audience, he also believed that his pointed commentary and tough questions were important to his continuing success. Lynch later wrote that he had interviewed policymakers and celebrities including Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Mike Huckabee, Jessie Jackson, Captain Kangaroo, Timothy Leary, Susan McDougal, Tiny Tim, and General William Westmoreland. Although he knew little about sports, he also booked interviews with team manager Tommy Lasorda and announcer Vin Scully of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A year after Lynch arrived in Little Rock, the ACLU of Arkansas invited him to be its 1984 annual dinner speaker. Over time, he became known as an outspoken opponent of the death penalty and a proponent of a variety of liberal causes. Lynch was honored as the Arkansas ACLU’s Civil Libertarian of the Year, which is an award given to an Arkansan who displays an unwavering commitment to protecting civil liberties in the state.

During the 1990s and early 2000s, Lynch often served as an analyst for political discussions on Little Rock’s KARK-TV. He also was a political columnist and occasional editorial writer for Arkansas Business, the Arkansas Gazette, the Daily Record, and Spectrum Weekly, all based in Little Rock.

In 2000, Lynch left KARN, but he continued hosting shows on KABZ and KDXE, both in Little Rock. That same year, he began a weekly newspaper opinion column in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette that ran for more than a decade, concluding in 2011. He also wrote an online blog known as “Lynch at Large.”

Leaving the radio business, Lynch turned his focus to the Anglican Church. He became a member of St. Andrew’s Anglican Church in Little Rock, earning a diploma in theological studies from the Anglican School of Ministry in Little Rock.

Lynch was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Little Rock Founders Lions Club.

In January 2021, Lynch was hospitalized with pneumonia. He died on February 24, 2021.

For additional information:
Howell, Cynthia. “Little Rock Radio Host, Newspaper Columnist, Activist Pat Lynch Dies at 70.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 25, 2021. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/feb/25/lr-radio-host-newspaper-columnist-activist-pat/ (accessed August 17, 2022).

Koon, David. “Lynch’ed Again,” Arkansas Times, July 27, 2006. https://arktimes.com/columns/media/2006/07/27/lynched-again (accessed August 17, 2022).

“Radio Show Host Pat Lynch Dies at 70.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 24, 2021. https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2021/feb/24/radio-show-host-pat-lynch-dies-70/ (accessed August 17, 2022).

Nancy Hendricks
Garland County Historical Society

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