Radio producer, booker Art Porter, dead at 63, ‘had superstars on speed dial’
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Art Porter had an enviable collection of phone numbers and contacts that helped him book top headliners for special events and for the Chicago radio shows he worked on as a producer.
After his death on Sept. 1, Bonnie DeShong recalled “A.P.’s” expertise as a connector. When she was part of V-103’s morning crew, “One day, A.P. came in, and he said, ‘Bon, Bon, I’m going to get the first lady, Hillary Clinton, on the air.’ ”
DeShong was skeptical. Three weeks later, the show’s staff was notified “Hillary Clinton’s calling in today,” she said in a tribute to Mr. Porter on WVON-AM. “And she talked for, like, 20 minutes.”
After Mr. Porter excelled as as executive producer for “Crazy” Howard McGee on WGCI-FM, “We stole him,” DeShong said. “And, from that point on, we just went straight up.”
“He was just that kind of person that would go after things,” she told WVON’s Art “Chat Daddy” Sims and radio host Chris Base. After he pulled out his Rolodex, “Lionel Richie could be calling in. . . for our birthdays.”
“He got me an exclusive interview with Mariah Carey,” said WLS-TV anchor Cheryl Burton. “He had superstars on speed dial, as well as everyday people who loved music.”
Mr. Porter also worked with legendary deejay Herb Kent, “the Cool Gent,” according to his wife Vennesser.
“As a radio producer and booker, he knew everybody,” said WBBM-TV news anchor Rob Johnson. “But, despite that, when we would see each other, he was wanting to know how I was doing and how he could be supportive.”
Mr. Porter died of prostate cancer at his Near West Side home at 63, according to his wife.
He grew up near Monroe and Leavitt. That was the neighborhood where he and his wife — both of them identical twins — met as teenagers. They were married for 36 years. Young Art went to Victor Herbert grade school and Crane Technical High School, where he was a prom king, his wife said. He also attended Peru State College in Nebraska and the University of Illinois at Chicago.
He later landed a part-time job in the promotions department at WGCI, which grew into a full-time position, she said.
At the radio stations where he worked, “He helped parents who called in who said they had missing kids, getting their names out on the radio,” his wife said. “He was a community guy.”
Mr. Porter also organized and hosted NAACP awards events.
“If you were trying to do something or you were trying to reach some people to form an event,” said WVON host Cliff Kelley, “he always knew who to call.”
“When he came home, he was a family man, and he was a husband,” his wife said. “He went to church. He said: Church first, family and then friends and work.”
He helped many broadcasting students get their first break, according to Don Clark, career services director for the Chicago campus of the Illinois Media School, where Mr. Porter taught career development. “Art just had this phenomenal passion for working with these kids.”
Mr. Porter liked to look sharp. He bought his suits at The Mister Shop.
His wife said his favorite singers included Aretha Franklin, Diana Ross, Sade and Luther Vandross.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Porter is survived by daughters Brandie and Brittney, his son Arthur, his sisters Carolyn and Cora, brothers Edward, Cordell, Oscar and Wardell and 11 grandchildren. A memorial is planned at 10 a.m. Saturday at Judson Baptist Church in Oak Park.
Contributing: Kathy Chaney