Arab broadcast pioneer Don Bustany dies
Donald S. “Don” Bustany passed away on Tuesday, April 23, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California.
Bustany, a pioneer in the Arab-American community and a longtime support of ADC, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on August 10, 1928. He is survived by his stepdaughter Kristen.was born in Detroit to Lebanese-American parents. He and radio host and voice actor Casey Kasem were childhood friends, and later co-creators of the syndicated radio programs American Top 40 and American Country Countdown.
In the 1970s, Bustany was camera coordinator of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Bob Newhart Show, and other MTM productions. Earlier he had produced local talk shows on several Los Angeles, California stations.
Bustany has a BA in Liberal Arts from Wayne State University and an MS in Communications from Syracuse University.
Bustany is an activist for the Palestinian right of return. From 1996 until 2014, he produced and hosted the radio program Middle East in Focus on KPFK, the Los Angeles station of the Pacifica Radio network; he remains a correspondent to the program. The show’s “mission is to fill the many gaps left by the mainstream media in their coverage” of the Middle East. He is a member of the advisory committee of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and, in the 1990s, served for four terms as president of the organization’s Los Angeles chapter. For statements that have been critical of the Zionist Movement and Israel, he has been criticized by such organizations as the JDL and the Zionist Organization of America.
Bustany is also a member of the board of directors of the Southern California Chapter of Americans for Democratic Action, a liberal political group.
ADC Washington D.C. issued the following statement regarding Bustany:
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) expresses its utmost condolences to the family of Don Bustany, who passed away on April 23, 2018, in Santa Barbara, California. Donald S. Bustany, a pioneer in the Arab-American community and a longtime support of ADC, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on August 10, 1928. He is survived by his stepdaughter Kristen.
Throughout his life, Bustany exemplified professional excellence in radio and television broadcasting along with a courageous commitment to civic activism on behalf of the Arab-American community and the Palestinian people. Bustany served for four terms as president of the ADC chapter in Los Angeles and for many years was a member of ADC’s advisory committee.
Along with radio host Casey Kasem, Bustany co-created American Top 40 and American Country Countdown, which remain on the air nearly 50 years after their first broadcasts, a testament to Bustany’s vision. In the 1970s and ‘80s, Bustany was the camera coordinator and a director of The Bob Newhart Show and Mary Tyler Moore. He also served as the technical coordinator on several other television programs.
In 1996, Bustany launched the radio program Middle East in Focus in Los Angeles to provide a platform to share stories and perspectives ignored in the mainstream media. As a result, Bustany was targeted in a campaign to cancel his show. He successfully fought back and Middle East in Focus remained on the air until 2014.
“Bustany was, and will continue to be, a role model in the Arab-American community. He spoke up when few others would and his activism helped found ADC, the nation’s largest Arab-American organization,” said ADC President Samer Khalaf. ADC mourns his loss and offers its deepest sympathies to the Bustany family.