One of the biggest stories in Detroit morning radio history is breaking today with Dick Purtan's announcement that he's going to be retiring next month. This most certainly will be one of the biggest radio stories of the year and will likely have repercussions for any number of stations as the scramble begins to lure and/or maintain morning listeners as a new landscape takes shape in morning drive.
Here's hoping Mr. Purtan has a long and happy retirement!
Press release from CBS Radio Detroit:
Legendary Detroit radio personality and Hall of Fame broadcaster Dick Purtan today announced his retirement from CBS Radio Detroit's 104.3 WOMC. After 45 years on the air in Detroit, the last 14 hosting morning drive on WOMC, he will retire effective March 26, 2010.
Purtan, regarded as one of the country's most respected, revered and recognized air personalities, is an icon in radio broadcasting. During his long career he has been installed in both National Radio Halls of Fame, as well as the Michigan Broadcasters Hall of Fame and has won the coveted "Marconi" as the nation's top radio personality. Along with many other honors and awards, he earned a television Emmy in 1980 for his stellar performance emceeing the Detroit Emmy TV Awards television special and was selected to run as an Olympic Torch bearer in 2002.
Purtan's show is always topical and infused with intelligent comedy - taking listeners to the edge, but never "crossing the line". He is nationally recognized as the father of the original "Put-On Call" which has become a programming staple on many radio stations around the country. Surrounding himself with a cast of characters, both real and imaginary, he excels in what radio was meant to be - "theater of the mind." An equal opportunity satirist, Purtan has good-heartedly skewered everyone and everything in the public eye.
"I was trying to put off retirement until the Lions made it to the Superbowl," said Purtan, "but frankly, I've got to get some sleep."
He added, "It's been my honor to have been welcomed into the homes and lives of the people of Southeast Michigan for the part 45 years. It's been a ball... and besides all of the fun, I hope we've made a difference."
"Unfortunately, we are losing a legend," noted Debbie Kenyon, Vice President and Market Manager for CBS Radio in Detroit. "No one has made more of an impact on Detroit radio than Dick Purtan. He is truly one-of-a-kind. Millions of people have woken up to Dick's voice in the morning...his departure will leave a void I'm not sure anyone can fill."
Purtan's dedication and commitment extends beyond his morning show. The Detroit News recognized his charitable contributions by naming him a "Michiganian of the Year" in 1993. This past September he and his wife Gail were bestowed the honor of being "Goodfellows of the Year" by the Detroit Goodfellows Organization for their on-going commitment to charitable causes.
Throughout his career Purtan has helped many charitable organizations and countless people in need. His annual Radiothon for The Salvation Army's Bed and Bread Program has raised more than $22 million since 1988 to feed the homeless and hungry in the Metro Detroit area. This year's Radiothon will be held on Friday, February 26, at Oakland Mall in Troy from 6:00am-10:00pm and broadcast on WOMC and streamed live on www.womc.com. His Radiothon is the largest single day, single radio station fundraiser in the country.
He has also been active in fund raising for Ovarian Cancer Research at the Karmanos Cancer Center through the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, and has been an avid supporter of Children's Hospital among other charities in the Metro Detroit area.
Purtan's career path began in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. and included stays in Syracuse, N.Y.; Jacksonville, Fla. and Cincinnati, Ohio. While at the latter destination, he personally arranged for The Beatles to perform in Cincinnati during their first tour of America in 1964. He and Gail scraped together $2500 (their life savings) - and convinced four of his fellow jocks to do the same - to secure the Fab Four's performance. When they took to the stage, it was Purtan who introduced them. In 1965, he traveled north on I-75 for his first Detroit job at the legendary WKNR - Keener 13. In 1968, he was wooed to WBAL in Baltimore, where he did the morning show for five weeks before being fired to being "too wild for the town." A month later, he returned to morning radio in Detroit on WXYZ - 1270 where he stayed for 10 years. Then in 1978, he crossed the river to CKLW AM in Windsor, Canada., Four years later, he switched to the FM band (and shortened his commute) by moving to WCZY FM in Detroit - which later became WKQI. In 1996, he moved to WOMC, where he has been ever since.
Purtan and his wife Gail reside in West Bloomfield. Together they raised six daughters (Jennifer, Jackie, Jill, JoAnne, Jessica & Julie) and now boast seven grandchildren (five boys and two girls).
After 45 years in Detroit, longtime air personality Dick Purtan called it a career this morning, announcing on his "Purtan's People" radio program that his last show will be March 26. Purtan told his WOMC-FM (104.3) listeners that he and wife Gail had decided over the two-week Christmas holiday that it was the right time to hang up the microphone, almost exactly 45 years since he first came to Detroit to take the late-night shift at WKNR-AM (1310) after being hired there in May 1965. "I must tell you, I've been blessed to do something I've loved and that I truly enjoy, but I have to be honest, I have been enjoying it less lately," Purtan noted... Dick Purtan is retiring from radio (Thu, 2/11)
Detroit Free Press:
In between weight-loss jokes and adult-contemporary radio hits, Dick Purtan announced early this morning on his radio show that he will be retiring after 45 years on Detroit airwaves. Purtan said the decision is something that he and his wife Gail have discussed for years, and that it was not easy to come to and that timing it was always going to be difficult, but after 14 years on CBS Radio's WOMC-FM (104.3), he'll step away from his morning-talk mic March 26... Radio legend Dick Purtan to sign off after 45 years (Thu, 2/11)
After 39 years in Detroit radio, preceded by stints in his hometown of Buffalo and Cincinnati, Dick Purtan enters broadcast Valhalla on Saturday night in Chicago. The morning mirthmaker will be inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame... Flashback: Dick Purtan on his career, inspiration (republished Thu, 2/11)
WDIV-TV Channel 4:
Detroit radio legend Dick Purtan announced moments ago he is retiring. Purtan has worked in radio for 45 years. He has hosted the morning show at WOMC since April 1996. He said he has loved the job with all his heart, but the passion is not there anymore. He said he will spend the next two months doing radio like he has been and then he looks forward to throwing away the alarm clock... Dick Purtan To Leave WOMC (Thu, 2/11)
WXYZ-TV Channel 7:
Longtime Detroit radio personality Dick Purtan has announced he is retiring from the airwaves, effective March 26. Purtan made the announcement on his WOMC-FM radio program Thursday morning. In making the announcement, he said "I was trying to put off retirement until the Lions made it to the Superbowl but frankly, I've got to get some sleep." Purtan also said "It's been my honor to have been welcomed into the homes and lives of the people of Southeast Michigan for the part 45 years. It's been a ball... and besides all of the fun, I hope we've made a difference." In addition to his on-air work, Purtan has work tirelessly for charity... Dick Purtan To Retire (Thu, 2/11)
WJBK-TV Channel 2:
One of Detroit's most popular radio hosts is calling it a career. Dick Purtan announced Thursday that he will retire this Spring. The longtime host of the morning show on 104.3 WOMC says his last day will be March 26... Dick Purtan Says He's Retiring in March (Thu, 2/11)
Detroiters received some sad news this morning during their daily commutes -- longtime local radio host Dick Purtan announced he would be retiring in late March of this year. Purtan has been on the air in Detroit since 1965, first at Top 40s stations WKNR and WKQI before landing at WOMC, where he has been entertaining morning listeners since 1996... Detroit radio legend Dick Purtan announces plans to retire (Thu, 2/11)