Mary Turner Pattiz, Rock D.J. During FM’s Heyday, Dies at 76

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

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

KMET was a hard-rocking upstart in the early 1970s, with its laid-back jockeys delivering a steady flow of new music from bands like the Who, Pink Floyd and Steely Dan, along with slightly naughty patter — a bit of sexual innuendo, endless stoner jokes — that was a welcome counter to the Top 40 hits churned out 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 crops with paraquat, a deadly poison. (When Jim Ladd, a late-night D.J., told his listeners to phone the White House to protest the practice, 5,000 callers jammed the White House switchboard.) Their bright yellow billboards were often installed upside down. They had a signature cheer, “Whooya” (the “w” was silent), that all the jockeys worked into their programs; the neologism was a refinement, Mr. Young said in an interview, “of the coughing sound we made when we smoked too much pot.” Ms. Pattiz — then Mary Turner — was known as “the Burner,” a nickname said to have been 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 prime nighttime spot, from 6 to 10 p.m.

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

Source: New York Times

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