It's legendary Detroit DJ Dick Purtan's second-to-last day on the radio and he's a half hour late. Purtan is known for many things in Detroit — his great comedic skits, his charity fundraising, having the best mustache in Motown, and his 45-year run as one of the most successful DJs in Detroit, ever. He's as much a part of Motor City mornings as a cup of coffee and a pothole. Perhaps less known is how he attracts more cops while driving than probably David Letterman.
When Purtan finally arrives at Ferndale's WOMC studios, armed with his trademark grin, he says, "I was pulled over by an unmarked SUV on the way in. The officer asked me if I was retiring tomorrow and I told him yes. He told me to have a nice day and let me go!" It being his last day on air, he got a police escort to the station.
With just enough time to drink water, Purtan launches into his show: Purtan's People, a throwback to how radio was once done, back when it was actually indie. Though the show appears seamless on air, creating it — with his daughter Jackie, Rebekah Rhodes, Larry Lawson and Big Al Muskavito — is an exercise in controlled chaos. While a song's playing, they might be recording an impersonation, doing a phone interview, searching archives for a classic skit or dreaming up a new one, during which time Purtan never misses a beat or loses his cool. And it's a lot more fun than listening to a Clear Channel computer's music library on shuffle.
Purtan's plans for retirement include working on his website, writing a book about his radio years and spending more time with his wife Gail and his family. Arguably, though, the most exciting thing in Purtan's future is the one thing his job never let him do. "I'm going to sleep in," he says with that trademark grin.
Stay in touch with Dick and Purtan's People at dickpurtan.com.
We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.
Email us at [email protected].
Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club
Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.
Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.
Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.
Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.