PITTSBURGH (AP) — Disc jockey “Porky” Chedwick, who became an institution by promoting R&B artists in the late 1940s and 1950s, has died. He was 96.
Chedwick, whose birth name was George though he informally changed it to Craig, was far better known as Porky. Chedwick claimed his mother gave him the nickname, and he developed others on the air, calling himself “the daddio of the radio” and “the platter-pushin’ papa.”
Chedwick was hired as a sportscaster at WHOD-AM in Homestead in 1948, but became well known only after the station let him play music. Chedwick took “black” records which could be heard only on jukeboxes and popularized them on the station, which eventually became WAMO in 1956.
“I want to see a monument built in this city to honor him,” said Pat DiCesare, a Pittsburgh concert promoter for decades. “This guy did so much for the civil rights movement. He played records by black artists when no one knew who he was.”
The late Bo Diddley co-headlined a 50th anniversary tribute concert at Three Rivers Stadium in 1998, along with Little Richard.
“Any entertainer of my era who says they don’t know who Porky Chedwick is, they’re damn lying,” Diddley said. “That’s the cat that played the records.”
Ed Weigle, Chedwick’s biographer and a voice actor who considered Chedwick his mentor, said some of the records Chedwick publicized in the Pittsburgh market were given to him by record stores.
“He used to go into a record store in Homestead and take records into the booth that stores couldn’t sell and listen to them,” Weigle said. “This was the 1940s, and the music was intended for black clients.”
“There were no black stations; the records were played in jukeboxes. He gave them airplay,” Weigle said. “He gave popularity to those records.”
“Porky was part of the soundtrack of Pittsburgh,” said Frank Gottlieb, a broadcaster who began working at WAMO before becoming a fixture at KQV, an all-news station by the time Gottlieb retired several years ago. “It was just so radically different from what other people, other stations were playing.”
Chedwick worked into his 90s as a live-event jock at oldies dances, and periodically hosted weekly music shows on a number of Pittsburgh-area stations.
He died Sunday of cardiac arrest at a Pittsburgh hospital.
Chedwick’s wife, Jean, survives him along with two stepsons.