In the summer of 1948, Porky Chedwick began playing "race records" on Homestead's WHOD AM 860 to become one the first DJ's to present racially diverse music in a major American city. Playing old R&B and gospel records that he had collected Porky blazed the trail 4 years before Alan Freed coined the term "rock and roll". In the early 1950s black music record labels heard about Chedwick's R&B playlist and sent him recordings from their new artists. He introduced these new artists as his "movers and grovers". Chedwick is given credit by numerous R&B and rock and roll legends for breaking their records including Bo Diddley, Smokey Robinson, Little Anthony, The Drifters, The Moonglows, Laverne Baker, the Midnighters and many others. He also introduced the music of Pittburgh artists the Marcels, the Skyliners, the Del-Vikings, Lou Christie and the Smoothtones.
Porky stayed true to the original artists who wrote the classic songs. He refused to play rip off covers of classics by white artists such as Pat Boone's cover of Llittle Richard's "Tutti Frutti" or Elvis's cover of "Hound Dog" by Willie Mae 'Big Mama' Thornton or the Jerry Lee Lewis version of Big Maybelle's 'Whole Lot of Shakin' Goin' On.'
Porky’s format of playing old records, that he called "dusty discs", was copied by disc jockeys across the country. Porky is recognized as a founder of the "Oldies but goodies" radio format.
Porky was also known for his raps such as:
"I'm not a Spaniard. I'm not from Spain. I'm Pork the Tork and I'll fry your brain. I've got more lines than Bell telephone. I've got more jams than Smuckers. I've got more moves than Allied Vans.''
On October 19, 1996 Porky Chedwick been honored at a tribute ceremony at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contributions as an influential radio DJ. The ceremony was broadcast live back to Pittsburgh over 3WS-FM. Porky is featured in the "Dedicated to the One I Love" exhibit that honors radio DJs. The Rock Hall of Fame honored him again in a 1998 luncheon for 25 rock 'n' roll radio pioneers that also included Dick Clark, Cousin Brucie, and Casey Kasem. The state of Pennsylvania proclaimed the week of September 23 through 30, 2006 as "Porky Chedwick Week". He was honored with a two day "Porkstock Festival" at Three Rivers Stadium in 1998.
“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
George Jacob Chedwick, the son of a Lithuanian-born steel worker, was born on February 4, 1918 in Homestead, Pennsylvania. His mother nicknamed him "Porky". He became a familiar voice in Homestead in his role as the public address announcer for his alma mater Munhall High School. He also worked as a sports stringer for the Homestead Daily Messenger newspaper. Seeing a newspaper want ad seeking on-air talent he applied for a job at a brand new 250 watt Homestead AM radio station. With his experience in sports writing and his local popularity as a play-by-play announcer Porky was hired for a 10 minute Saturday sports commentary show. He began his radio career at WHOD in Homestead when station launched on August 1, 1948. Starting from his short 10 minute spot he became a pioneering radio DJ who helped launch Doo Wop, R&B, and Rock N Roll.
On weekends Porky worked as an engineer mounting records for WHOD's ethnic music shows. A few days after his first show, Porky's program was expanded to a full half hour and the sports segment was dropped. Porky's weekly half hour show was called “Porky Chedwick’s Masterful Rhythm, Blues and Jazz Show" With little money to buy new records Porky used songs from his own collection of 78s and asked record stores to give him old 78s by black artists that they did not want to display. No one was playing music by black artists in western Pennsylvania. Station management was amazed when the phones lite up with callers requesting more of Porky’s selections. As his popularity grew Porky drew more sponsors. His show was expanded to five hours seven days a week. He eventually took over the noon-to-five weekday slot with "The Porky Chedwick Show".
WHOD was sold and changed its call letters to WAMO in 1956. Esquire Magazine named Porky "Pittsburgh’s Favorite DJ" in 1956. In 1958 Porky Chedwick was given the station's anchor spot from 4 p.m. until sign-off to appeal to teen listeners. WAMO built two large transmission towers in the early 1960s to boost its signal from 250- to 1,000- watts allowing the station to be heard in Ohio and West Virginia.
Porky's Concerts and Dances
During the 1960s Porky hosted concerts at Homestead's Leona Theatre and DJ'd dances at the Savoy Ballroom in the Hill, the Linden Groove, and at other venues around Western, Pa. Since the late 1940s Porky hosted over 7,000 sock hops and dances.
"The Porky Chedwick Groove Spectacular" was held on May 11, 1962, at the brand new Pittsburgh Civic Arena. More than 13,000 turned out to see headliner Jackie Wilson and 21 other acts in the day long show including Bo Diddley, The Flamingos, The Marvellettes, The Five Satins, Jerry Butler, Ketty Lester, Johnny Jack, The Skyliners, Patti LaBelle and the BlueBelles, The Castells, Bobby Vinton, The Drifters, and The Debonaires.
Porky Benefit 1991
In 1991 Porky was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A benefit concert was held at the Syria Mosque to raise funds for an operation. Wolfman Jack emceed the show and a hall of fame roster of early Doo Wop stars performed including Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, the Moonglows, Lou Christie, Jimmy Beaumont and the Skyliners, the Vogues, the Marcels, the Cleftones, Johnnie and Joe, Bobby Comstock, the Contrails and the Elmonics. The operation removed a benign tumor.
The two day Porkstock Festival headlined by Little Richard and Bo Diddley was held at Three Rivers Stadium on August 15th and 16th 1998 to celebrate Porky's 50th anniversary in radio. The concert also featured other artists that Porky broke including Johnnie & Joe, The Skyliners, The Marcels, the Four Townsmen, the El Capris, Richie Merrit, Pure Gold, The Holidays, Johnny Angel and the Halos, and The Vogues. A second Porkstock was held on September 11, 1999. at Three Rivers. Headlinedr by the Four Tops it also featured Lou Christie, Gene Chandler, Eddie Holman, the Jaggerz, the Chantels and Pure Gold.
Porky was on the air at WAMO for 24 years until 1972 when he moved to KQV for a weekend show. He returned to WAMO staying there until 1984. He was on the air at WNRZ from 1985 to 1986. Porky returned to WAMO in 1996 after a 10 year retirement. Porky worked on WWSW in 1998 and moved to WLSW in 2000. At the age of 88 in 2006 he appeared on WFKB. After retiring to Sarasota Florida area in 2008, Porky returned to Pittsburgh in 2011. He launched another show on Sept. 2, 2011 airing from 11 a.m. to noon on Fridays on WEDO. He now is heard on internet radio.