Philly’s “Butterball” dead at 70.
Philadelphia broadcasters are remembering longtime air urban radio personality Joe “Butterball” Tamburro who died July 27. He was 70. “Butterball was a broadcasting icon,” Clear Channel market manager Dennis Lamme says. WDAS-FM had been in the process of planning at 50th anniversary of his career in broadcasting.
“I have met and worked with quite a few legends in my career. Butter was the pinnacle. He will be missed but never forgotten,” program director Ken Johnson says.
Tamburro joined R&B WDAS (1480) in 1964 in the sales department but worked his way to an on-air position. He eventually became the station’s program director, a position he held for a quarter century. Tamburro later added PD duties at urban AC WDAS-FM (105.3) when it launched in 1971. He continued to oversee both stations until recently when illness forced him to cut his workload. When WDAS-AM flipped to an R&B oldies format last November, Tamburro became one of its biggest attractions working in afternoon drive. “I smile when I speak on the air,” Tamburro once said.
The station has been airing remembrances from artists, listeners and national figures such as the Reverend Jesse Jackson. In addition to his contributions to broadcasting and the music industry, Tamburro was also an important figure in the Philadelphia civil rights movement offering the airwaves to leaders like the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. and Cecil B. Moore. “We celebrate a wonderful person, a great man and a kind individual. I will never forget him,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said.