(Left to right) Ed Hurst, Joe Grady & Ed Cunningham
All members of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
March 6, 1999
Broadcast Pioneers member and radio legend Joe Grady passed away Tuesday, October 10, 2000 at Bryn Mawr Hospital from complications associated with leukemia. Joe, who was 82 when he died, along with his broadcasting partner, Ed Hurst, was the host of the 950 Club, on WPEN, 950 on the AM dial. It was a dance show that aired afternoons between 1946 and 1955. The show eventually moved to television, and was the predecessor of American Bandstand, which originated from WFIL-TV, Channel 6 in Philadelphia.
Grady & Hurst worked for a short time at Channel 12, then WVUE, a commercial television station. The station went dark (off the station by 1960). The team returned to radio in 1980 and Joe retired permanently in 1988.
Joe, who lived in Broomall, was born in South Philly (2nd and Wolf). As a kid, he and his father, a Navy Yard worker, would listen to a crystal radio by stringing a copper wire through two oatmeal boxes. Later, they built their own radio set. Joe was an avid ham operator with the calls W3FVW. In 1936, Joe was graduated from South Philadelphia Catholic High School, now St. John Neumann.
Grady's first radio job was part-time with WIP. He took the job while going to LaSalle College while attending on a theatrical scholarship. Grady was graduated in 1940 was a bachelor's degree in business. After school he worked briefly at the Philadelphia Zoo and had a dance band. He played piano and organ. He landed his first full-time broadcast job as a radio announcer at WHAT. He later became Program director of that station. In 1945, he joined WPEN to do staff announcing but became a full-time radio announcer within a few months. It was at WPEN that Grady met Hurst, who joined the station a year later.
The duo pioneered the format of the teen-dance television show. They kept the format when they went on WPTZ, Channel 3 to promote the radio show in 1950. They wanted to leave radio when WFIL-TV asked them to host Bandstand in 1952, but WPEN said no. Dick Clark himself has credited Joe & Ed as being the model for American Bandstand.
In 1955, they did a teen-dance show on WVUE-TV (Channel 12) called The Grady and Hurst Show. That show lasted three years. The two then moved to Channel 3 (WRCV-TV), where they did a morning show for a little while. By that time, they were the oldest DJ team in the United States. After 1960, Hurst continued working in broadcasting and Joe taught homiletics and communications at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, PA. In July 1969, he was named chairman of the communications department at the school. He was also a lector in the church.
In 1980, Radio Station WPEN asked the two back to do a two-week air shift to promote the big-band format that the station was starting. And that lasted 8 years.
The two won many awards. They were enshrined in Broad Street's "Walk of Fame" in 1993 and were named "Persons of the Year" by our organization in 1990 and six years later inducted into our Hall of Fame.
The team's last television appearance was on WHYY-TV on March 6, 1999 when the station aired "Miss Patti Page, the Singing Rage." Grady and Hurst were on as guests. By the way, Patti Page was there too, in person.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Video Still from the WHYY-TV membership drive
Video dub courtesy of WHYY Engineer Ken Tuman
Used with the permission and authority of WHYY-TV
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