For four decades, Dick Purtan has been a staple of Detroit radio.
A native of Buffalo, New York, Paul Purtan had worked at WOLF/Syracuse and WSAI/Cincinnati before being
offered a late-night slot at WKNR/Detroit, a Top 40 station. At that time, he changed his name to Dick Purtan
to avoid confusion with an established member of the staff. Purtan’s mixture of humorous chatter and music
caught on quickly; within two months, station management had moved him to morning drive. During the 1970s,
Purtan’s program was cited as one of the top-rated morning shows in the country, in the same league with
personalities whose stations carried far more powerful signals.
Purtan later moved to WXYZ/Detroit, at one time working both morning and afternoon shifts as part of a sevenhour
day. He also worked at CKLW/Detroit-Windsor. Although he was ostensibly in the employ of music
stations, Purtan emphasized humor and conversation over the hits of the day.
Purtan spent 13 years at WKQI/Detroit, cementing his reputation as the city’s top morning host, before moving
to WOMC/Detroit in 1996, where “Purtan’s People” remained the city’s top-rated morning program into the new
Dick Purtan was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2004.
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