Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Farewell Porky

This blog entry is only of interest to you if you're:

A: Into the history of rock and roll radio in its earliest days, and/or
B: Into Pittsburgh radio of the same era.

At age 90 the "Platter Pushin' Poppa", the "Daddio of the Raddio", the "Bossman" Craig "Porky" Chedwick is leaving Pittsburgh.

Here's why this is important -

The Porkster is one of the great ORIGINAL rock and roll DJs. Never heard of him? Doesn't surprise me. The rock and roll historians tend to glide over the Pittsburgh native. You will find his name at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in their display of the great early names of radio DJs. He's the only Pittsburgh DJ to make the cut. But if you ask the great acts and artists of those days THEY know Porky Chedwick. Porky was one of those daring young men who played black artists for white audiences. Put him right next to Alan Freed (if you don't know who Alan Freed is I'm going to have to ask you to leave this discussion right now. Go look him up. Only then will you be allowed back into polite rock history discussion society). Porky later was the father of Oldies radio as well.

His radio career isn't over yet despite the fact that he got started in the late 1940's. He's done over 7,000 record hops. Pittsburgh honored him two years in a row with his own "Porkfest" Oldies festival. He's been recognized for his history on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. His greatest years were with legendary Pittsburgh station WAMO.

And Porky was all about Pittsburgh. He's lived his entire life there. By the time I paid attention to the radio Porky was a "relic" but you still knew the name. He's as much a 'Burgh Thing as the Bucs, the Stillers or Iron City.

In August Porky and his wife will leave his hometown behind and head south to Florida. Not to retirement (as one commentator puts it "...Porky would never consider retirement because he can’t find a rhyme for it!") because he's got plans for doing his music thing down there too.

But it's the end of an era in my hometown and for the industry I loved and served for so many years. His "air chair" will never be filled.


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