Petey Greene

Petey Greene - The Original Shock Jock

Petey Greene was from Washington, D.C. and attended Stevens Elementary School. Greene was raised by his maternal grandmother Maggie “A’nt Pig” Floyd on 23rd Street which was a poverty stricken area in Washington, D.C. He dropped out of high school in grade 11, enlisted in the Army, and was sent overseas to fight in the Korean War before being discharged in 1953 for heroin possession.

When he returned home to Washington, D.C. from Korea he became an alcoholic and a junkie. In 1960, he was convicted of armed robbery at a small grocery store, and imprisoned at Lorton Reformatory with a ten-year sentence.

There, he became the prison’s disc jockey, and his loquaciousness soon proved beneficial in other ways. In 1965, Greene persuaded a fellow inmate to climb to the top of a water tower and threaten suicide, so that he would be able to “save his life” by talking him down.  “It took me six months to get him to go up there,” he later recalled. This act, combined with his generally good behavior, earned him a reduction in his prison sentence and parole.

After leaving prison, he was hired by Dewey Hughes for AM radio station WOL to host his own show, “Rapping With Petey Greene”. His stature grew, and he soon found himself hosting his own television show, “Petey Green’s Washington”, which ran from 1976 to 1982 on WDCA-TV.

In the early 1980s, he had radio personality Howard Stern; who, at the time, had just begun to pioneer the comedy style that would make him a legend on a Washington, DC radio station, on his show for what was one of his first television appearances.  Stern showed up in blackface, which was laughed off by Greene. Howard called Greene “way ahead of his time.” The two shared a mutual admiration as they both dealt with such controversial subjects as race and sexuality, with Stern since recognizing him as an influence, calling him a “broadcasting genius” in his book Private Parts.

He also became a community activist, joining United Planning Organization and founding Efforts for Ex-Convicts, an organization devoted to helping former prisoners succeed in legitimate ways. He railed against poverty and racism on his shows and on the streets, participating in demonstrations during the height of his popularity. After his death from cancer, approximately 10,000 mourners lined up outside Washington’s Union Wesley AME  Zion Church to pay their last respects . It was the largest funeral in D.C. for anyone not elected to office.

Original Source: Urban Radio Nation

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