Remembering Porky

PITTSBURGH LEGENDARY DJ PORKY CHEDWICK DIES AGE 96

Porky Chedwick was a disc jockey on WHOD in Homestead then moved up to WAMO radio going back to the 1950’s.  He may have been the only white jock at the black station.

porky-chedwickFor the longest time he was considered radical by most parents.  Porky did more to help the civil rights movement than any congressional act.  He played music by black artists when no other station would risk that.

That’s when I first heard songs like Annie Had a Baby  or Work with me Annie by Hank Ballard, and the Midnighters or Sixty Minute Man, which contained lyrics that were too suggestive for mainstream radio.

“Pork the Tork” was how he would  refer to himself, or “the boss man” or “your platter pushin’ papa, the daddio of the radio”.  He rapped before anyone knew what rap was.

He has been given credit for the phrase “Dusty Discs”.  He would play B sides of records or revive old records and make them hits all over again.  My partner, Tim Tormey, and Nick Cenci, producer of several of Lou Christie’s hits and The Vogues, released several volumes of Porky’s Dusty Discs LP in the ‘60s.  the first volume sold the initial 3,000 pressings on the first day it was released.

To listen to some of Porky’s favorites, click here.

In 1961 when the Civic Arena was built in Pittsburgh, everyone thought the 12,500 seat building was too big for anything but sporting events and no one would dare promote a concert there, but not Porky.  He brought his Groove Spectacular concert in featuring Jackie Wilson, The Drifters, The Coasters, The Castelles, Jerry Butler, The Flamingos, The Angels, The Blue Belles and The Skyliners and sold out. These acts didn’t even want paid from him.

porky-recordsYears before, he held a show at the near 4,000 seat Stanley Theatre in downtown Pittsburgh and more than sold it out as thousands of people were demanding unavailable tickets.  It forced the police to close the city to any more incoming traffic.

Although he helped a lot of artist make hit records, I don’t think Porky ever made a lot of money personally.  It didn’t seem that money was that important to him.  He was a happy man who always had a smile and a friendly hello.  He had such poor eyesight that he couldn’t get a driver’s license and always had to have a driver.  Later, he had a hard time hearing.

His teenage dances that he held almost every night in a different city for years were always packed.  Porky was always in demand for appearances, concerts, fairs and dances.  He had a busy schedule.  Big name entertainers were his friends.

In 1991 he suffered a life threating operation.  He had no money and I held a benefit concert for him.  Hank Ballard and The Midnighters, The Moonglows, Lou Christie, Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners, The Vogues, The Marcels, The Cleftones, Johnnie and Joe, Bobby Comstock, The Contrails, The Elmonics and Wolfman Jack all appeared and donated their services.  All of the profits from the sold out show went to Porky.

When I received the call, informing me of the sad news, from Sean McDowell at WDVE, I posted the news of Porky’s death on FB and received a lot of activity.  I thought I might do another benefit for “the boss man”.  This time the proceeds, we thought, would be used to build a monument to him in the City of Pittsburgh. Travis Klein had brought the idea to me.

We could get a lot of Pittsburgh acts to come, like Jimmy Beaumont and The Skyliners, The Vogues, Lou Christie, The Marcels, The Igniters, and The Contrails.  In addition, I’m sure we could get other national acts like we did in 1991.

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L to R:  Jimmy Beaumont, Porky and Me

I received a lot a FB action, texts and calls, and they were all sad. People were crying and just refused to believe that the legend was gone.  But the saddest call of all was from Travis Klein, who was crying and said, “I just got a call from Porky’s wife.  She was at the funeral home and she doesn’t have any money to bury him.”

Donations can be made to:  Porky Memorial Trust Fund, Dollar Bank, 700 Town Square Way, Pittsburgh, PA., 15227

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