The earliest memories I have of a radio personality goes back to when I was four years old in the late 1950s. Even at that age, if someone were to ask me to name a disc jockey, the only name out of my mouth would have be that of Porky Chedwick. Like “Mad” Mike Metro who would follow, Porky found the records that he loved and put them on the air. Unconventional in today’s format heavy radio, “Pork the Tork” would blow the dust off of old 78s, scour the discount bins for discarded 45s, flip records to the “B” side, and play, as he said in an interview, “the music he wanted to hear.”
Obviously, the listeners of WHOD and its later incarnation as WAMO liked what he played as well. While WHOD/WAMO catered to an African-American audience, soon white teenagers were listening as well to this suburban station in Homestead, Pennsylvania. He played what was termed as “race records” three years before Allen Freed followed suit in Cleveland. Unlike Freed, Chedwick never took payola and never was as famous or as infamous as Freed; but in Pittsburgh, he was legend.
Not only did Chedwick play music on the air, he was a popular record hop DJ. In fact, he played the same records at local dances and night clubs that he played on the air. Porky continued doing this up until last week. My brother Chuck was quoted in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette blog concerning a lesser known avenue of Chedwick in the late 60s – “Pork in the Underground,” where Porky played obscure rock and psychedelic records. While I never met Porky, my brother actually did several shows with him in the early 60s. I never thought about it much, but I guess I am two degrees of separation from “The Bossman.”
The Pittsburgh music scene lost another legend yesterday with the passing of 96-year old Craig “Porky” Chedwick. The tone arm has been lifted from turntable; long live the “Daddio of the Raddio.” To honor Chedwick, here’s one of his theme songs that I found on YouTube. Unfortunately, I don’t know the artist’s name. If you do, let me know.