Our Founder Sydney Yallen

Sydney YallenSydney Yallen, the founder of the industry-leading InterMedia Group of Companies® and an elder statesman of the direct response advertising industry, died of a stroke at the age of 85 on February 17, 2009.

Syd Yallen, with his son Robert Yallen, who joined the agency full-time in 1985, built InterMedia into a $450 million media organization with nine different business units. Clients have included the U.S. Army, GMAC Insurance, Armor All, Budget Blinds, Glad, Clorox Brands, UBISoft, Black & Decker, Vonage, Sanyo, Discover Card, Ralston Purina, Breath Asure, Nordic Track, Auto Insurance Specialists, Hollywood 48-Hour Diet, TaeBo, National Medical Enterprises, Hooked on Phonics, Public Storage, ditech.com, True Credit, Corinthian Colleges, Marinello Schools of Beauty and Law Offices of Roni Deutch.

Sydney Yallen had been a media innovator since starting in radio in the late 40s. He founded InterMedia Advertising in 1974, after a remarkable career in the heart of Southern California’s advertising community. He originally began work in the broadcast and advertising industries at the age of 13 as a part-time office boy for KFWB radio in Los Angeles.

After joining KFWB at such a young age, he worked his way up through the news, production, promotion, advertising, and sales departments eventually to station manager, where he stayed for nine years. His career was briefly interrupted while he served in the Navy during World War II, attending Columbia University’s Midshipman’s School.

Sydney YallenAfter his service, he returned to KFWB, which was at that time a station with a music-news-sports format that ranked 5th in the greater Southern California Market. In 1958, Yallen introduced “Color Radio-Fabulous 40″ to the Southern California listeners, which was at the time, the most successful advertising promotion campaign ever conducted by a radio station. In only five weeks, KFWB became the number one radio station in Southern California.

In 1958, Yallen moved on to become executive vice-president of Continental International Productions, a leading syndicator of radio and television programs. Nine years later, he joined broadcast barter company Pepper and Tanner to assume the position of West Coast regional manager. In 1970, Yallen established the West Coast operations for the media buying service Media Partners, headquartered in New York. When that partnership dissolved, Yallen formed InterMedia, now in its 35th year.

While many of his colleagues had begun planning their retirement parties, Yallen continued to do breakthrough advertising for more than 30 current Inter/Media clients. Yallen provided day-to-day leadership on many of the company’s key accounts, oversaw the financial and administrative operations for the firm, headed new business development, and pioneered with Robert the development of advertising tracking and metric systems that are the hallmark of the Agency.

Sydney YallenSydney Yallen held a Bachelor of Science degree in advertising and marketing from the University of Southern California. He was once a track and field star, in high school (at Fairfax High) and at College of the Pacific. He was clocked in 9.7 in the 100-yard dash when the world record was 9.4. He was proud that he was the first in a line of speedster- athletes in his family. Robert went on to be an All-American sprinter in college and grandson Jordan is a sought after college-bound baseball star thanks to his speed and batting ability on the diamond.

Sydney Yallen is survived by his wife, the former Penny Joyce, an ice skating star on television’s Frosty Frolics and touring shows in the 1940s and 50s. Sydney and Penny were married in 1954. Yallen is also survived by son Robert Yallen, daughter-in-law Linda, and grandchildren, Lindsay and Jordan.

The family has asked that contributions be made in his name to the American Stroke Association.


Syd was entrepreneurial—he was intelligent and a man of integrity. I liked him immediately. Of course it helped that he was a Red Sox fan. Syd was a great man and will be dearly missed.
Thomas Lucas / Warner Bros.

The world and also the DR industry lost a class act and a true gentleman.
Brian Fays / MTV

I was fortunate to have been able to work Syd and found him incredibly gracious and fair. The fact that Bob and Syd worked together so successfully for so many years is a testament to their relationship.
Glenn DeKraker / CORE Media Systems

Syd was such a wonderful man. And a true industry pioneer, in the bargain. I am very proud to have been lucky enough to know and think fondly of him.
Kathi Moore / QuigleySimpson

Syd Yallen greeted us with a warm smile and a gentle hug. He might have been having a bad day, but you’d never have known it. One thing that always struck us was how intently Syd listened to everyone in the room. You knew he was listening, because he would always ask the most profound questions, he made the most succinct summary of someone’s explanation, or he would add something that made you think about what was just said! Syd had a great sense of humor, and we loved to see him laugh. He will be sorely missed by every person he touched … and we are proud to be counted amongst the many.
Liz & Clark Wilson / Livingston, Wilson & Assoc., Inc.

In my six years as PR counsel for InterMedia, Syd always made me feel like I was his welcome guest or member of the family. But it was his depth of knowledge of the direct response industry and his innate wisdom of how to deal with people in business to create a win for everyone that made this small-statured man a giant in his business.
Jackie Lapin / Jackie Lapin Media Relations

Syd’s conversations with me always consisted of two elements—brilliance and humor. It was a honor to have known him.
Joe Aiello / InterMedia Interactive