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Mark Lacter, LA business reporter and KPCC contributor, dies

Mark Lacter, business reporter, in 2009. John Rabe/KPCC

Mark Lacter, KPCC contributor and the author of a business blog at LA Observed, has passed away. He was 59. Lacter died after suffering a stroke Wednesday, according to his wife, author Laura Levine. Lacter suffered bleeding on his brain and died at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, LA Observed reports.

LA Observed’s Kevin Roderick gave Lacter a prominent place as a regular columnist writing LA Biz Observed, which he started in 2006. Lacter covered the breadth of L.A. business news for numerous outlets, including regular contributions to KPCC.

“This is a big loss for everyone who knew Mark and for LA Observed,” Roderick wrote.

Lacter had hundreds of conversations on air about the week’s business news with KPCC “Morning Edition” host Steve Julian on his weekly “Business Update” segment, beginning in Sept. 2004.

“It is no secret I looked forward to the four minutes Mark spent with me every Tuesday morning talking about business,” Julian wrote in an email after hearing about Lacter’s death. “He could have been explaining and comparing taxi services or questioning airport politics or museum inner-workings — it didn’t matter. I gained a better understanding of Southern California through his acumen, but I also loved the sound of his voice.”

Lacter has been praised for taking business stories and breaking them down in an easy to understand fashion.

“He told complex stories in everyday language,” Julian wrote. “Our on-air segments also gave us an off-air friendship that I treasure and will miss beyond words.”

KPCC Senior Editor Paul Glickman was news director when he signed Lacter to do a weekly business chat with Julian. “Mark Lacter helped put KPCC news on the map in Southern California,” said Glickman. “He started doing his weekly business analysis with us at a time when the newsroom was still quite small. For the past nine years, his analysis and insights have made us sound smart on a wide range of business topics. No matter what the story was, Mark had a smart take on it.”

Lacter did his last segment for KPCC this past Tuesday looking at L.A.'s congested freeways. That same day he also wrote his last post at LA Biz Observed, covering the American-US Air settlement with the Department of Justice.

According to his bio at Los Angeles magazine’s website, for whom he was a contributing writer, Lacter was also editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal, a senior editor for Forbes magazine, was honored as a Society of Professional Journalists distinguished journalist of the year and worked at the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register. His bio at LA Observed also notes he’s contributed to Fast Company, the Financial Times and Investor’s Business Daily.

His contributions to KPCC’s “Off-Ramp” included why Los Angeles’s wealthy are being less charitable, an accurate early assessment of Fresh & Easy’s woes and giving us perspective on offbeat mayoral candidate Austin Beutner.

“Off-Ramp” host John Rabe, after hearing of Lacter’s death, wrote, “Listeners will miss his solid journalism and affable style, and we will miss a colleague and a friend.”