Porky Chedwick passes at 96


Porky-ChedwickHe was the “Daddio of the Raddio” and the “Boss Man.” And for generations of Pittsburghers, Porky Chedwick was a respected, unique and beloved radio personality—delivering the hits with a classic Pittsburghese accent. Chedwick of Brookline, PA died 3/2 of cardiac arrest. He was 96.

“Chedwick was a trailblazer in music and in radio. Starting in the late 1940s, he introduced music by black artists to young white radio listeners and gave early airplay to artists who later went on to be major stars, including Bo Diddley and Smokey Robinson,” says the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “In his shows, he crafted a one-of-a-kind improvisational on-air patter: “This is Pork the Tork, your platter-pushin’ papa.” It sounded alien to some, but it was a language his young listeners understood…In 1948, he joined WHOD-AM in Homestead as a sports announcer. The station gave him a slot to play music, and the rest was history.

WHOD became WAMO under new ownership in 1956, and Chedwick continued to work there, playing old R&B records, some of which he got for free from record stores because they weren’t selling.

The station didn’t have a powerful signal, but Chedwick made enough noise to attract a solid youthful audience, along with the attention of record labels, which started sending him more current material…”

He hosted thousands of well-attended record hops and dances over the years.

“Porky was part of the soundtrack of Pittsburgh,” retired Pittsburgh broadcaster Frank Gottlieb, who began his career at WAMO, where he worked with Chedwick, told the paper. “It was just so radically different from what other people, other stations were playing.

“Porky was such a pioneer. Radio was so different back then. It wasn’t nearly as formatted. He played all the stuff white radio wouldn’t play back then. He could get away with that,” Sean McDowell, WDVE-FM afternoon driver told The Post-Gazette..

Chuck Brinkman, a former Pittsburgh radio personality, came to work at then-Top 40 KQV-AM in 1960: “When I would be invited to do record hops, I learned that I had to bring his music with me. The kids who listened to KQV liked Porky’s music better than ours. I learned early on if you want to be a success in Pittsburgh on the air, you better know the Boss Man’s music.”

Chedwick continued to work off and on into his 90s, hosting weekly programs on other stations [like WEDO-AM and L. Stanley Wall’s WLSW-FM] and oldies dances. Although he sometimes appeared frail physically, his voice remain clear and strong, like the Porky his listeners remember from their youth.

Just last week, he was at the annual — and final — Roots of Rock ‘n Roll show at the Benedum Center, where he was greeted with “thunderous” applause when he appeared onstage, said Henry DeLuca, creator of the Roots of Rock ‘n Roll series. “He had 5,000 people here who adored him.”

See the full Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story here.