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Commencement Profile: Thomas K. Lytle

Posted: May 9, 2012

Thomas Lytle, '82, has distinguished himself as a leader in the music industry for more than two decades.

Lytle will receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award during the 10:00 a.m. baccalaureate ceremony at Buffalo State's 140th Commencement, Saturday, May 12, in the Sports Arena.

He is the former vice president of promotions at the influential Island Def Jam Music Group in New York City, where he worked from 1990 until his retirement in 2011. Lytle was responsible for strategic planning; managing artists’ exposure through radio, television, new media, and retail sales; and promoting albums and tours. His life’s work has contributed to the growth and popularity of hip-hop culture around the globe.

With an astute understanding of the marketplace and consumer preferences, Lytle has helped propel the careers of such chart-topping artists as Jay-Z, Mariah Carey, Kanye West, Ne-Yo, Ludacris, LL Cool J, Rihanna, Rick Ross, and Young Jeezy. He is recognized for his ability to promote both new artists and established recording stars.

He was recently named senior vice president of 5LINX, a rapidly growing telecommunications company based in Rochester, New York.

A native of Brooklyn, Lytle attended the High School of Performing Arts in New York City, which was later immortalized as the setting for the movie Fame. He earned his bachelor of arts degree in broadcasting at Buffalo State, where he also joined the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. In July 2011, during Omega Psi Phi’s centennial celebration in Washington, D.C., Lytle received the prestigious Century Award of Excellence, placing him alongside other such notable Omega Psi Phi alums as actor Bill Cosby, basketball star Michael Jordan, NASA chief Frank Bolden, actor and comedian Steve Harvey, and the father of pop singer Beyoncé, Matthew Knowles.

After graduating from Buffalo State, Lytle worked as a disc jockey for college radio shows and parties while securing a postgraduate degree in electronics from Announcer Training Studios in New York City. His skill and reputation landed him a series of positions in Virginia over the next six years, as an AM gospel radio station announcer and engineer, a television station broadcast engineer, and an FM radio station program director.

In 1990, Tracy Hamlin, then a regional manager for Def Jam Recordings, resigned her position to become a singer with the jazz band Pieces of a Dream. She recommended Lytle as her replacement, and he joined the company until his retirement. Def Jam Recordings merged with Island Records in 1999.

Lytle was named Music Industry Executive of the Year by the Street Information Network in 2008 and was recognized in 2009 by Cambridge Who’s Who Among Executives, Professionals, and Entrepreneurs for his dedication, leadership, and excellence in all aspects of music production.

The Buffalo State Alumni Association was proud to host Lytle on campus in fall 2010 as a panelist in a discussion with students about dynamic career experiences.

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