Groundbreaking Philadelphia DJ ‘Butterball’ Dead at 70
By Kim Glovas
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A Philadelphia disc jockey with a 40-year history in the business has died. Joe “Butterball” Tamburro passed away this morning at age 70.
Butterball was a Philadelphia radio legend on WDAS, becoming a DJ at a black radio station during the turbulent civil rights years.
Civil rights author Wynne Alexander, whose grandfather owned the station, remembers Butterball fondly.
“In those days, a white guy working at a black station, although it had happened before, it was still rather unusual,” she tells KYW Newsradio. “But Butter had this enormous charm and this enormously good ear, and it paved the way.”
Tamburro, a young man from South Philadelphia, got his start at WDAS as a salesman in 1964. He soon became a fulltime DJ, and for the last 25 years was program director.
Ben Hill, an engineer at Sportsradio 94WIP who worked with Tamburro for more than a decade, says Butterball had an ear for what was happening in the music world.
“He would go on his ‘gut’ with records, and he knew what records were really going to be big. He had a really good sense of that.”
Tamburro leaves behind a wife and five children.