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 century.
Purtan retired from broadcasting March 26th, 2010.
He was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2004.