"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
"Porky Chedwick? Now you're taking me
back." - Dick Clark
"Porky Chedwick is a legend." - Charlie
Thomas, The Drifters
Back in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a
relatively unknown DJ was making quite a splash here in Pittsburgh. His selection
of vinyl was heavily laden with the "Doo Wop" sound, something that caused many
parents to raise their eyebrows.
Here was a white man presenting a program of
"negro" music; blues, R&B, gospel and jazz. This was music that many back in
those times considered "race" music. Some parents went as far as to label this
controversial DJ a satanic influence on their children.
But, in a time when Frank Sinatra and the big
bands were king, George Jacob Chedwick, better known as Craig "Porky" Chedwick, broke
all the rules. The young listeners that flocked to this new sound knew that they were
part of something fresh and exciting.
"Pork the Tork", the "Daddio of the Raddio,"
your "Platter Pushin' Papa," the "Boss Hoss with the Hot Sauce" had opened the door
to the new genre of Doo-Wop, and the airwaves have never been quite the same
Porky Chedwick, The Boss Hoss with the
Hot Sauce, spinning discs at WAMO in 1953.
For many years, Porky Chedwick made his home
right here in Brookline, along the 2500 block of Pioneer Avenue. He was a frequent guest
at many of the social events here in the neighborhood. You could generally find the
"Boss Hoss" hanging out with his good friend Charlie McLaughlin, and spend a moment
or two chatting with a true radio legend whose achievements have been duly honored
with a prestigious spot in the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame.
Into his nineties, Porky was still doing what
he loved the most, spinning tunes on Sunday evenings for WLSW in Scottdale,
Pennsylvania. Like many old sounds, the Doo-Wop beat has made a big comeback on the
oldies circuits. The old artists and fans could still listen to their favorite tunes
courtesy of a man often refered to as "Radio's Ignored Pioneer", Brookline's own
Craig "Porky" Chedwick.
Porky Chedwick, who passed away in March
2014 at the ripe old age of ninety-six, was born in Homestead. The year was 1917.
His career in radio began in 1948 with a stint on WHOD, a tiny station
located behind a Homestead candy store.
The station was subsequently renamed WAMO.
Porky began playing blues and R&B records, albums by musicians like Bo Diddley and
bands like Little Anthony and the Imperials. White teenagers devoured this music,
establishing a trend that has continued ever since.
And, to his infinite credit, Chedwick refused
to play covers of these songs played by white musicians. As the "Boss Hoss" told the
Tribune-Review in 1998, "I wouldn’t even play Elvis Presley’s version of ‘Hound Dog.’
I played Big Mama Thornton’s."
Most of his young listeners were unaware that
Pork was caucasian. When his identity grew better known, insome communities he became
persona non grata. However, the suggestion that he was trying to corrupt (white)
youth was squelched when conservative U.S. Senator Estes Kefauver commended him for
organizing youth baseball to combat juvenile delinquency. He was one of the first DJs
to vigorously promote a lifestyle free of alcohol, drugs and tobacco.
With WAMO broadcasting such sounds in the late
1940s and early 1950s, Pittsburgh was on the cutting edge of a musical trend. This
was perhaps the first and only time this ever happened. Neither WAMO nor WHOD had the
broadcast strength to compete with giant stations like KDKA directly, so Chedwick and
other DJ's compensated by developing signature styles. Chedwick came up with many
nicknames for himself, so many in fact that to recite them all would take several
minutes and leave a tongue twisted for several more.
Porky Chedwick, the Doctor of Porkology, surrounded
by his many teenage fans in 1955.
Porky’s show was anointed the cool spot on the
dial. “It was unheard of in my day,” he said. “I was yelling into the mike, talking in
Porky invented so many crazy words that he
claimed his own "Porkology" dictionary. The Daddio struggles to convey the wonder of
his life’s work. "I got a calling, an inspiration, I was getting certain vibrations to
be in big-time radio. When a community radio station opened up in Homestead in 1948,
there was a place for me to get on the air."
Among his many notable achievements, Pork the
Tork essentially invented the concept of oldies. While Chedwick often spun the records
of new acts, he had a special interest in music recorded years ago. They were oldies
even when Chedwick first played them. He bought unwanted dusty 78s, records by black
acts, and dropped the needle on them.
"The falsettos, the bass, the togetherness. They
wrote about poverty and handicaps I could understand. This was a message nobody was
getting. I blew the dust off them. On the air I called them 'dusty discs.' I was giving
kids the music. One day they would know I was speaking the truth." He had invented his
signature "Porky Sound."
Porky Chedwick spun his classic collection of
oldies for KQV from 1972 to 1985.
When Porky would shout over a record, “Blow your
horn!” during a sax solo, car horns blared around the city. In 1961 when he did a broadcast
outside the Stanley Theatre downtown, more than 10,000 kids crammed the streets to see him
and thousands more were headed that that way. The mayor of Pittsburgh personally showed up
to request an end to the broadcast.
Porky Chedwick's career moved from WHOD and WAMO
to KQV in 1972, and then to WNRZ from 1985 to 1986. After a 10 year "retirement", Pork
returned to WAMO in 1996, then moved to WWSW in 1998 and finally WLSW in 2000.
The call letters might have changed, but the doctrine
of "Porkology" has remained the same after all these years. Whenever Porky Chedwick takes
control of the microphone, you could expect a generous helping of the Doo-Wop classics that
become his trademark sound.
Having hosted over 7000 record hops, Pork the
Platter Pushin' Papa has been, and continues to be, honored and feted at various tribute
concerts, the most prominent of which may have been "Porkstock," an annual summer
gathering in the late 1990s where fans of R&B oldies gathered to hear their favorites.
In 1998, Chedwick was enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. He’s the only Pittsburgh disc jockey
to be so honored.
To the Daddio of the Raddio, Pittsburgh's
Platter Pushin' Papa and Boss Hoss, the community of Brookline is honored to have
had such a wonderful, charismatic and charming person as one of our neighbors.
The legendary spinster who graced the airwaves for six decades with the doctrine of
Porkology finally retired in July 2008.
Remarks by Congressman Ron
Klink, House of Representatives
The following are remarks of Congressman Ron
Klink on the floor of the House of Representatives, Washington, DC, at 8:55pm,
October 5, 1998, as reported in the Congressional Record:
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order
of the House, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Klink) is recognized for five
Mr. Speaker, we deal in particular in these days
on the floor of the House with such weighty matters and such serious issues as warfare
and impeachment, health care reform, Social Security, budgets. I rise tonight for a
little lighter of an item. I think sometimes we have to talk about these lighter things
to give ourselves a perspective on the serious matters that we occasionally talk
Mr. Speaker, I stand tonight to really pay
tribute to a friend of mine who has been in radio in the Pittsburgh area for the last
50 years. Fifty years in a career that sometimes only lasts a few weeks or months,
those who may have been in the radio business.
Porky Chedwick shortly before his retirement
from the airwaves in 2008.
If one goes to Pittsburgh, PA and talks about
"The Boss Man," "Your Platter-Pushing Papa," "Your Daddio of the Raddio," everybody
knows who they are talking about. It is Porky Chedwick, or as he called himself,
"Pork the Tork," the "Boss Hoss with the Hot Sauce."
Mr. Speaker, he developed all of these lines of
patter back starting in 1948 when really no one in the country was doing anything really
strong entertainment wise in radio.
Porky is a white disk jockey. And I mention that
because he played what then was known as "race music," the old R&B music, the sweet
doo-wop sounds. And for those young people, Mr. Speaker, who may be in the House or
watching at home and say what is doo-wop, it is that street corner harmony where you
snap your fingers and it sounds so wonderful.
He would play that music that oftentimes was
covered by white performers like Pat Boone, but he played it back before people had
heard of people like Little Richard and Fats Domino and Bo Diddley. And a lot of those
performers pay tribute to Porky Chedwick for giving them their first air play, because
back then it was very difficult for black performers to get a wide audience anywhere
in the country. There were certainly not many mainline radio stations that would play
music by black performers.
Lou Christie, who also comes from the
Pittsburgh area said being cool growing up, and Lou Christie had a lot of big records,
he said being cool as he grew up meant listening to Porky Chedwick. He says he is
still in awe of him, and he still reverts to being a 15-year-old child when he is
around him. He will never know how important Porky was to his career. He was the
first disk jockey in the country to play "The Gypsy Cried."
Jimmy Beaumont, who has been with the Skyliners
around for 40 years playing in the Pittsburgh area and all around the world, Jimmy said
he has known Porky for 40 of the 50 years, and he says that growing up hearing that
stuff, that is when Jimmy Beaumont of the Skyliners decided he wanted to become a
singer and sing that same doo-wop and that same sound that he heard Porky playing on
the radio all the time.
There actually is a group in the Pittsburgh
area known as P.O.R.C. It is an acronym for Pittsburgh Old Records Club, and one of
the members of the club, Jim Sanders, said, "When I was a kid, when you would listen
to Porky, you knew you were cool." It goes back to Porky being the very first white
disk jockey to program the music. It was a revelation to white teenagers to hear some
of this great music.
Porky started out in 1948 on a little radio
station, doing a 5-minute sports program, called WHOD in Homestead, Pennsylvania. And
he would go back and he says he played the "dusty disks." They were really dusty, 78
RPM records. And because nobody was playing them, the record store owners would give
them to him. He knew they were talented musicians and he put them on the air and
teenagers all over the Pittsburgh area wanted to hear more and more of
In fact the story is told of when Porky did a
live show at the Stanley Theater. An hour before he went on the air, 500 people
crowded around the Stanley Theater. Before the show was over, 10,000 people were
crowded around the Stanley Theater. Downtown Pittsburgh came to a screeching halt.
Kids were stuck on buses in the logjam created by Porky Chedwick. They got off the
buses, crossed the bridges on foot to get to the Stanley Theater to see Porky
As a disk jockey, he saw the highest
recognition of his career before the Beatles. In 1963, the Beatles came to America.
A lot of performing artists saw their careers go downhill and a lot of disk jockeys
that had that signature type of music similarly saw music change a great deal. But
still, many of the great disk jockeys in America today credit Porky Chedwick with
beginning it all.
As Porky said, "I had more lines than Bell
Telephone. I was the original rapper." And he probably was.
Mr. Speaker, I say to Porky, "We are honored
for you and your 50 great years in radio. We are honored that you are in the disk
jockey portion of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and we hope you are still playing
that music for 50 more years. God bless you."
The following is a link to
an article by radio personality Ed Weigle on his role model and mentor Craig
"Porky" Chedwick. Click the link below to read the article entitled:
"Porky Chedwick: Radio's Ignored
Porky and Friends (left to right): State
Representative Michael Diven, City Council President Gene Ricciardi,
District 4 Councilman Jim Motznik, Diana Lyn, District Magistrate Charles McLaughlin,
Phyllis DiDiano, Porky Chedwick, Joan Gaetano, and Sue Pfeuffer in 2004.
On May 26, 2008, Porky
Chedwick was one of the honored guests at the Memorial Day Parade on Brookline
Boulevard. This would be the last time many Brookliners would see the Bossman in
person. Shortly afterwards Porky did his final local radio broadcast, then retired
one last time. He then moved to his retirement villa in Florida.
Brookline's Own Porky Chedwick was one of the
honored guests at the annual
Memorial Day Parade on Brookline Boulevard, May 26, 2008.
In 2011, with his eyesight and health failing,
Porky moved back to Brookline. He made a few limited public appearances over the past
two years and recently celebrated his 96th birthday among friends.
Porky Chedwick, the legendary Pittsburgh
radio personality and long-time Brookline resident, passed away on March 2,
2014. Although Porky is no longer with us, the legend of the Platter Pushin'
Papa will live on forever in the hearts and minds of the people whose lives
were enriched by his innovative style and enthusiasm for rock 'n roll music.
Learn more about the life of
Porky Chedwick at:
"Crowd Cheers Porky's 90th Birthday At
'Roots of Rock and Roll'"
"Last Dance By The Platter-Pushin'
"Porky Chedwick - Pittsburgh's Beloved
'Daddio Of The Raddio'"