Jerry Williams (radio host)

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Jerry Williams
Gerald Jacoby[1]

(1923-09-24)September 24, 1923[2]
DiedApril 29, 2003(2003-04-29) (aged 79)[3]
OccupationRadio host
Known forPolitical and social commentary

Jerry Williams (September 24, 1923 – April 29, 2003) was an American radio host, one of the originators of the talk radio format.[4]

His radio career spanned more than 50 years, starting in 1946 at WCYB in Bristol, Virginia (near the Tennessee border), and followed by stints at WIBG in Philadelphia, WMEX in Boston and WBBM in Chicago.[5] In 1968, he returned to Boston on WBZ for eight years. In 1976 he was on WMCA in New York, then back to Philadelphia on WWDB, where he became the first FM radio talk host. He came back to Boston once again in 1981, on WRKO, where he remained until 1998.[4][6] From 2002 to 2003, he hosted a program on WROL while fighting a series of illnesses.[3][6][7]

He also hosted television talk shows on WBZ-TV (1968–1969), WFXT (1987–1990), and WHLL (1990).[8][9]

Williams was described as a liberal and a populist.[3][6] He was a critic of the state and federal liberal political establishment and media.[10][11] Williams carried out frequent radio crusades, including ones to repeal Massachusetts' mandatory seat belt law and against a proposed prison in New Braintree, Massachusetts.[1][6] He was a critic of Governor Michael Dukakis.[3][6] A Christmas tradition on his radio program was a reading of Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales.[7] He traditionally signed off with "Good Night, Good Luck, Good Night, Tee". Tee was his wife Therese.[2]

Williams founded the National Association of Radio Talk Show Hosts.[6] He was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 1996.[4] Howie Carr cited him as an influence.[1]

Williams died on April 29, 2003 in Boston.[3]

In 2008, Burning Up The Air, a biography by former producers Steve Elman and Alan Tolz, was published by Commonwealth Editions (acquired by Applewood Books in 2010).


  1. ^ a b c Carr, Howie (April 30, 2003). "Jerry Williams: Not a bad guy, as legends go". Boston Herald. Retrieved March 12, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Jerry Williams". Find A Grave. Retrieved June 19, 2014.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Mark Pothier; Ralph Ranalli (April 30, 2003). "Jerry Williams ..Talk Radio Pioneer Who Skewered Many, defied political description". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Radio Hall of Fame
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger (6 May 1968). "Demise of Talk Radio". Roger Ebert's Journal. Ebert Digital LLC. Retrieved 14 June 2016. Talk radio in Chicago came to a graceful, sad demise on WBBM Saturday radio ended here at 10:55pm Saturday when Jerry Williams signed off.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Ray, Bipasha. "Talk Radio Pioneer Dead At 79". CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved April 26, 2019.
  7. ^ a b Fitzgerald, Joe (November 25, 2002). "Once and future talk-radio legend returns to airwaves". Boston Globe.
  8. ^ McLean, Robert A. (September 18, 1987). "Jerry Williams Gets TV Talk Show". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  9. ^ Bickelhaupt, Susan (June 5, 1990). "Jerry Williams to Hit TV". The Boston Globe.
  10. ^ McCabe, Bruce (June 10, 1989). "Williams Goes A-Bashing at Talkfest". The Boston Globe. Retrieved January 28, 2013.
  11. ^ Zorn, Eric (May 23, 1985). "Radio talk show hosts to duel on TV". The Vindicator. Retrieved January 28, 2013.

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