Porky Chedwick
The Daddio of The Radio

Porky Checwick - WHOD Radio

"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

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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, Craig "Porky" Chedwick broke all the rules, and 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 since.

Porky Checwick - WAMO Radio - 1953.
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.

Porky Checwick

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."

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 Checwick - WAMO Radio - 1955.
Porky Chedwick, the Doctor of Porkology, and his many teenage fans at WAMO in 1955.

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. I was giving kids the music. One day they would know I was speaking the truth." He had invented his signature "Porky Sound."

Porky Checwick - KQV Radio - 1981.
Porky Chedwick spun his classic collection of oldies for KQV from 1972 to 1985.

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.

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.

Porky Chedwick at the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame

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.

Porky Checwick - 2008.
Porky Chedwick shortly before his retirement from the airwaves in 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 minutes.

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 about.

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.

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.

Cruisin' with Porky Chedwick - Released September 1993    Porkology - featuring Porky Chedwick
and the Keystone Rythym Band.

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 them.

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 Chedwick.

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."

Cruisin

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 Pioneer"

Porky Chedwick and friends, 2004
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.

The Boss Man - 14 KQV

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.

Porky Chedwick at the Memorial Day
Parade on Brookline Boulevard, 2008
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.

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Learn more about the life of Porky Chedwick at:

www.porkychedwick.com

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Post-Gazette Articles

"Crowd Cheers Porky's 90th Birthday At 'Roots of Rock and Roll'"

"Last Dance By The Platter-Pushin' Papa"

Porky's Obituary:

"Porky Chedwick - Pittsburgh's Beloved 'Daddio Of The Raddio'"

Porky Chedwick.

<Personalities> <> <Brookline History>