Pioneering Pittsburgh DJ Craig 'Porky' Chedwick dies at 96
As a young man, Craig “Porky” Chedwick caught part of a black church service on the radio, and he liked what he heard.
“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. This was the 1940s, and the music was intended for black clients. It got no airplay,” said close friend and Chedwick biographer Ed Weigle.
“There were no black stations; the records were played in jukeboxes. He gave them airplay. He gave popularity to those records.”
Known as the “Daddio of the Raddio” and “Platter-Pushin' Papa,” Chedwick was credited with bringing R&B music to legions of Pittsburghers for more than 60 years. He was among the first white DJs to play music by black artists on the radio, starting at the former WAMO.
Chedwick, 96, of Brookline died Sunday morning after family members rushed him to an emergency room for pain.
“His son, Ben, called and said he was gone,” said Weigle, owner of Voiceover Productions/Weiglevox Production International.
Chedwick's family could not be reached for comment. Until recently, he and his wife, Jean, hosted an oldies program at the Brookline Pub on Sundays.
“Porky was a household name here in Pittsburgh, but his impact beyond our city was so much larger, as he was credited by numerous artists for being the reason that they broke into the industry,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.
Weigle said Chedwick was driven by being unhappy that the bootleg industry resulted in some black artists not getting paid when their music was played.
“He said, ‘I'm going to get this music out there if I have to play it on street corners,'” Weigle said.
Chedwick was one of the first “mobile DJs,” Weigle said. He also put youth sports leagues together to “keep kids out of trouble.”
“He lived here in Florida for a while. That was his failed attempt at retirement. He said it was all ‘old people down here. I don't belong here,'” Weigle said, chuckling.
The couple moved to Pittsburgh's Brookline section several years ago.
Chedwick wanted to be a sportscaster and was a sports stringer for a Homestead newspaper at one time.
“His real name was George. He traded that for Craig. As for Porky, he insisted his mother gave him that name because he was a chubby little baby who loved to eat,” Weigle said.
Bob Haberkost recalled working with Chedwick at WAMO during the mid-1980s.
“Porky was just the most wonderful human being you would want to work with. He was somebody who was in love with his music, and instrumental in changing the music we know today,” he said.
“Porky was a very gentle (man), not ‘star material,' just regular people,” Haberkost said.
Bev Smith, former talk show host and news and public affairs director with WAMO, recalled Chedwick as part of an era of DJs who put music on the radio and put the needle on the record.
“Radio was not formatted and structured,” Smith said.
A fan of her evening talk show, Chedwick would often call her following a broadcast.
“Those were the days when our community was alive with radio personalities,” she said. “Lots of young people should have sat around him and listened to him talk about doing his own tapes, posting fliers for events, trying to interview stars.”
Radio host Ron Chavis called Chedwick his hero and said he was nationally respected.
“On the air, Porky was the exemplification of the term ‘Bigger than Life.' His personality was as big as the music,” Chavis said. “What Porky laid down behind the mic was something that can't be learned.”
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Chedwick began his radio career in 1948. He adapted to the times, with a program in recent years on an Internet station in run by the late former McKeesport DJ Terry Lee.
Big names in Pittsburgh music and radio took to Twitter to expresses condolences.
“The most important Pittsburgh broadcaster ever,” tweeted WDVE DJ Randy Baumann. Local rocker Joe Grushecky tweeted: “He had a profound influence on Pittsburgh music.”
Chedwick had been scheduled as a special guest at a “Community Oldies' dance on April 26 at the New Eagle Volunteer Fire Department's social center, presented by the Monongahela Area Chamber of Commerce.
“With Porky Chedwick's death, an era is gone that we will probably never get back again, the era of personality radio, the era of commitment to the people. Porky was all of those,” Smith said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724- 836-5401 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Spence’s future uncertain after reinjuring knee
- Lopsided loss to Eagles shows Steelers have issues aplenty
- Olympian Orozco leading in men’s all-around at P&G Gymnastics Nationals
- Rossi: Time with Penguins taught Bylsma importance of stability
- Uniontown’s Perkins transitions from O-line to running back
- Pirates notebook: Prospect Sanchez makes 1st start at first base with Indy
- Woman shot dead, mother wounded in Hill District shooting
- Kentucky firefighters recovering from ice stunt shocks
- Records: Steelers RB Bell admitted smoking pot before traffic stop but denied being high
- Pitt football team rallies around its youth
- Uniontown PNC Bank robbery suspects surrender