PITTSBURGH - Legendary disc jockey Craig “Porky” Chedwick died Sunday morning in a Pittsburgh hospital.
Close friend Ed Weigle said family members called him to say Chedwick, 96, of Brookline was in an emergency room, complaining of pain. Soon after, he stopped breathing.
“His son, Ben, called and said he was gone,” said Weigle, owner of Voiceover Productions/Weiglevox Production International.
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.
“He said years ago, when he was very young, he caught a signal of a black church service on the radio. He liked the Southern gospel sound, the beat and the harmony. 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 air play. There were no black stations; the records were played in jukeboxes. He gave them air play. He gave popularity to those records,” Weigle said.
Chedwick was unhappy that the bootleg industry resulted in some of those 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.
Chedwick originally 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. Some other versions are a little more risqué,” Weigle said.
A member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Chedwick began his radio career in 1948.
He adapted to the times, with a former program on an Internet station run by the late former McKeesport DJ Terry Lee.
He and his wife, Jean, most recently hosted an oldies program at the Brookline Pub on Sundays.