Philadelphia On-Air Legend Tony Brown set the tone for a generation of radio listeners via his nightly WDAS Quiet Storm broadcast. His passing this week marks the end of an era.
As a kid growing up in South Philly, I loved radio. I’d tune to every station I could find, even if it meant juggling a makeshift antenna out the window at night to pick up a scratchy bounce signal from New York, DC, and even occasionally Chicago. But most of the radio charms I found were in my backyard when I would wander to the left side of the radio dial where the more experimental programming was happening on non-commercial radio stations like Temple University’s WRTI 90.1. One of the progenitors exploring new artists and unique sounds was Tony Brown, whose radio career began on WRTI in 1969, but his interest in radio hatched around age 4.
College radio was the launch pad of several ‘DAS on-air personalities, such as the late E. Steven Collins and Dr. Perri Johnson (who nowadays is an actual doctor of psychology in Los Angeles) who used their knowledge of alternative music to create compelling radio shows. In a play on his name, Anthony “Chocolate” dubbed his program “A Brown Night with Tony” – and melded his melodic voice with the FM band. Thus adding finesse to Philly’s nighttime radio scene for more than 40 years.
That voice went silent this week when Brown died after a long health battle. He was 75.
A statement from iHeartMedia’s 105.3 WDAS FM noted that Brown joined 105.3 WDAS FM in 1972 with his show “The Extrasensory Connection,” which became known as “The Quiet Storm” in 1976. The show spent eight years on iHeartMedia Philadelphia’s Power 99 FM before returning to 105.3 WDAS FM in 1997. In addition to being on the air, Brown co-wrote “The Quiet Storm” signature theme song with Bert Willis, Rob Arthurs, and Rudy Gay. He received numerous awards throughout his career, including Radio & Record’s 1999 Industry Achievement Award, the 2002 Vaughn Harper Excellence in Radio Award and the 2006 March of Dimes Achievement in Radio Award.
The highlight of listening to Anthony Chocolate would be at the approach of midnight, where every weeknight he’d launch “The Transition” over the music bed of Mandré’s “Interlude” and beam astral travelers into a new day with the phrase: “Energize… Gotcha!”
The third track from an Andre Lewis 1977 LP entitled Mandré served as the background sounds for “The Transition” at Midnight.
Tony Brown’s contributions have ensured the relaxing radio music format known as “The Quiet Storm” continues to stand the test of time. And, his legacy lives on in the memories of fans, of which I am one.
His widow, Sunshine Brown, recently posted some love ballads Anthony Chocolate regularly played that provided eargasms to Delaware Valley listeners…
The Stylistics – You’re Right As Rain
Quincy Jones feat. Tamia – You Put A Move On My Heart
The Star of a Story – Heatwave
Ready Or Not – After 7
Pillow Talk – Sylvia
This Masquerade – George Benson
Peabo Bryson – Can You Stop the Rain
Anyone Who Had a Heart – Luther Vandross
Nothing Has Ever Felt Like This – Rachelle Ferrell · Will Downing
Carpenters – Rainy Days And Mondays
Gil Scott-Heron – Save the Children