"The kind of guy, that can satisfy...fast Butter in the city," and a Tribute to Radio's Great "Butterball"

Radio died for me.  Once again.  But this is big time.

Every once in a while I take a minute to write about personal items that don’t involve television.  Some times they’re focused on the industry that got me started in the media business at 16 years of age.

That business…Radio.

The radio business has changed dramatically over past 20 years.  Radio companies like Clear Channel completely fucked up the business.  Totally fucked it up.  Radio used to be local.  Local news, local issues, local involvement in the community.

That was radio back in the day.

Today it’s all about syndicated shows.  Shows that are aired over many markets.  No local groove.  They try but listeners aren’t stupid.  Local is local.   Period.

Joe Tamburro, "Butterball" at WDAS Radio in Philadelphia

Joe Tamburro, "Butterball" at WDAS Radio in Philadelphia

Growing up in Philadelphia as a kid who was in to urban music…there were several stations and they were on the AM dial.  Yeah, I’m that old.  AM radio was king.  And two of the top radio stations playing black music were 1340AM WHAT and 1480 AM WDAS.  And WDAS  AM & FM were legendary.  The “guy with the goods” Georgie Woods.  Carl Helm.  The Bishop of Soul Jimmy Bishop.   Jocko Henderson.  “Jocko, Jocko where you been, I got RC Cola and I’m back again!”

And Fast Butter in the City.  The legendary Butterball.

He was the coolest white boy in black radio.  South Philly born Joe Tamburro.  One of the smoothest voices on Philly radio and quite frankly the radio business country-wide.

Butterball was amazing.

I can’t tell you what he meant to me as a radio broadcaster when I first got in to radio.  He was one of those radio deejays that we as kids in the business all wanted to be.

Butterball.  “The kind of guy that can satisfy,” he would rap.  He would open the top of his radio show with “hey hi everybody, welcome in to the wide wonderful world of Butterball.”

Other cool lines from Butter…”tall, tanned, talented and terrific, one, two, three, Four Tops,” he would introduce or do an outro on the group.

“I drive my women like I drive my cars, hard and fast,” he would rap during his legendary “Sex Machine” rap that was one of the most incredible radio diatribes ever.

I wanted to write about the passing of Butterball.  He was 70 years old.  He was overweight.  Lived a rough life of parties and clubbing.  He was always sick toward the end of his life.  But he was always, and I will say again always the first to step up and shake my hand when I was in his presence.  Always.

I wanted to write but it was hard.  It’s hard to write about people who had a major influence on your life or your career.  Butterball had that presence.  He will be missed.  He was legendary in the radio business.  And I will always, always, mimic his incredible lines that he used on WDAS=AM and FM back in the day.

“You get choice not chance when you make it to a Butterball dance!”

Rick Thomas



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