Mary Turner Pattiz, rock DJ during FM’s heyday, dies aged 76

Mary Turner Pattiz, rock DJ during FM’s heyday, dies aged 76

Mary Turner Pattiz, who like Mary Turner was a silky-voiced disc jockey on KMET, the album-oriented rock station that was the soundtrack to Southern California in the 1970s and early 80s before leaving radio to becoming an addiction counselor and philanthropist, died May 9 at his Beverly Hills home. She was 76 years old.

The cause was cancer, said Ace Young, former KMET news director.

KMET were hard rock upstarts in the early 1970s, with their laid-back jockeys performing a steady stream of new music from the likes of The Who, Pink Floyd and Steely Dan, along with slightly naughty rant – a bit of sexual innuendo, endless stoner jokes – this was a welcome counterpoint to the top 40 hits produced by AM stations.

They were proud renegades, mixing surf reports with news coverage of events like the Mexican government’s spraying of its illegal marijuana plantations with paraquat, a deadly poison. (When Jim Ladd, a late night DJ, told his listeners to call the White House to protest the practice, 5,000 calls filled the White House switchboard.) His bright yellow billboards were often installed upside down. They had a signature greeting, “Whooya” (the “w” was silent), which all jockeys worked their programs; the neologism was a refinement, Young said in an interview, “of the coughing sound we make when we smoke a lot of pot.” Mrs. Pattiz – then Mary Turner – was known as “the Burner”, a nickname reportedly given to her by Peter Wolf, the lead singer of the J. Geils Band, for her seductive delivery and good looks, and she had the night’s prime spot , from 18:00 to 22:00

When big bands came into town to perform or promote a new record, they stopped by KMET to be interviewed by Ms. Pattiz. She was soft-spoken and conversational, a gentle conversationalist who once teased Bruce Springsteen by asking, “Do you really know a cute little place in Southern California, on the way to San Diego, where they play guitar all night and all day?” (She was quoting “Rosalita,” a song from Mr. Springsteen’s second album.) More important, she let her subjects talk without interruption. For her part, Springsteen was so taken with her that he asked her out on a date, and at his performance at the Forum in Inglewood, California, the night after the interview, he dedicated the song “Promised Land” to her.


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