Philly, PA Radio Legend John DeBella Helped Make Me Who I Am
A legend in the Philadelphia radio industry has cracked the studio mic for the last time. So, as John DeBella retires, I thought I'd tell you how he helped make me who I am today.
I get asked this all this question all the time, 'When did you know you wanted to be on the radio?' My answer? I've ALWAYS known.
As a kid growing up in the 80s, Philly radio stations were all I listened to. And two names stick right out as being some of my earliest influences. Pierre Robert and John DeBella.
I would listen to them on the radio for HOURS, not to hear the music they played, but to hear THEM. I wanted to be like THEM.
Back then, Philly radio stations had actual commercials on TV, and John DeBella's for WMMR were legendary. Because he was a local 'celebrity', what he did for a living seemed tangible to me. It never occurred to me that I wouldn't someday work in radio.
All these years later, John DeBella is just ending his tenure as a radio personality. He gave his last show Friday on WMGK. John wasn't just a great morning man, he was a great talent, and his longevity still gives me something to aspire to.
I was only lucky enough to meet John DeBella once in 2016 (during the MGK 'Comfort Food Festival' at The Fillmore), but when I did it was meeting one of my idols. I'll be honest, I kind of chased him around the venue to get a photo, lol.
Just a few weeks ago, DeBella introduced Joan Jett at Wells Fargo Center in Philly, and it was a moment I told myself I needed to preserve in my mind, because I knew this was the last time he was getting onstage at a Philly radio jock in that capacity. BTW, he helped break 'I Love Rock and Roll' on the radio.
Watch his final sign-off on WMGK below, as John tells fans, 'I love you, I thank you, have a great life' and 'don't take any crap from anybody'.
Thanks for the memories, John Debella, and thanks for your impact on a fellow radio jock. Enjoy retirement!