Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Porky Chedwick : 92nd Birthday Party

As an outsider, I still have a lot to learn about Yinz history.

The Post's Brian O' Neill, interviewed 92 year old, local radio legend,
Porky Chedwick, the "Daddio of the Raddio" after a call from Pat McArdle.

Seems Pittsburgh played a big but little known (outside of Pittsburgh) role in Rock and Roll history. From the Wikipedia.

"He began his career at WHOD in Homestead (which took the call letters, WAMO--an acronym for the rivers Allegheny, Monongehela and Ohio--in 1956), when the low-power AM signed on, August 1, 1948. When he responded to an ad in a local paper, advertising for on-air talent at the new radio station, his popularity as a play-by-play announcer won him a 10-minute Saturday sports and music show. The music portion was gradually exapanded, in response to the public's reaction. WHOD, known as "The Station of Nations," was created to serve the diverse European and eastern bloc immigrant population that worked the Pittsburgh area mills."

There he became one of the first DJ's in America to play R&B and Gospel, by both white and mostly black artists. Known at the time as "Race Records", but today as early rock and roll. At the time WHOD competed against stations like the 50,000 watt KDKA, with only a 1000 watts in power, yet soon drew a strong audience.

"Chedwick is given credit by numerous R&B/rock and roll legends, including Bo Diddley, Smokey Robinson, Little Anthony and myriad others, for giving their recordings their first airplay. Porky Chedwick is responsible for making Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania "The Oldies Capitol of the World", and for making the city a testing ground for new R&B from the early 50s through the 70s. The impact of Porky Chedwick's contributions far transcend the boundaries of the Steel City. He never received the notoriety-- or the paycheck-- of many DJs who followed in his footsteps, however his accomplishments are an indelible part of the local and national music and culture."

In 2008, Porky and his wife planned a move to Florida. In 2009, they were back.

"She told how they moved to Tarpon Springs near Florida's Gulf Coast in the summer of 2008, figuring they'd stay. But they went to the pool one day and he turned to her and said, "Did we just walk into the cemetery?"

She tried to shush him but he said, "These people are old." So when they came back to Pittsburgh that December, and he had to deal with some health issues, they decided to stay put. It's hard to leave a place where, as his wife puts it, "Porky walks in and the waters part."

From what I can tell Porky, didn't have the knack for either becoming rich or nationally famous. But he is the only Pittsburgh DJ in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I found this quote.

“Any entertainer of my era who say they don’t know who Porky Chedwick is— they’re damn lyin’! That’s the cat that played the records. I know.”

-- Bo Diddley

92nd Birthday Party For Porky Chedwick @
Spencers Down Under
West Miflin

From 7-11
No cover charge

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

WAMO was the coolest radio station and Porky was the dadio of the radio. His music influenced my teen age years... I still remember some of the old black music such as "White Port and Lemon Juice" and "Idol with the Golden Braids." Maybe the titles are not correct, but Porky introduced us all to black culture and tolerance. Sometime in 1967 or 1968, I was either on my way to Vietnam or had just returned. I went to the South Park Tennis court looking for a partner. I asked this guy and he said he was Porky Chedwick. Wow, I thought, this is fantastic. We played a good game. Walter Bawell