Doug "Jocko" Henderson
Union Hall, Philadelphia, 1984
at the Blues Music Association's Awards Presentation
It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Philadelphia radio legend, Doug "JOCKO" Henderson, Sr. He passed away at the age of 82 on Saturday, July 15, 2000 at 5:40 pm after a prolonged illness.
Broadcast Pioneers member Gerry Wilkinson (former WDAS Operations Manager) said, "Jocko had one of the most unique and pleasant voices in the industry. He was everything legends are made of. He had class and elegance."
"Hello, Daddy-O and Mommy-O, This is Jocko" was all the rage in Philadelphia and later in New York City. His thing was rhyming words like, "eee-tiddlee-yock, this is the Jock," or "oo-papa-doo, how do you do." While not the first to do this, it worked. Word has it that his fan club numbered 50,000 people at one time. His entry to his stage productions was legendary. He would enter the stage from a rocket suspended on wires. There was sound effects and smoke. Truly a sight to see.
Born on March 8, 1918 in Baltimore, Douglas Wendell Henderson, Sr. (Jocko) started in broadcasting in 1950 at AM daytimer, WBAL in the city oif his birth. Chuck Richards at that station got Jocko interested. Baltimore DJ Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert also thought that Henderson should go into broadcasting. Doug loved radio and gave up his father's plans of him being a teacher. About a half-year later, Jocko moved to Philadelphia, a city where he would put down roots and start and raise a family. He started in the Quaker City at WHAT Radio, owned by Billy and Dolly Banks. It was at WHAT he would take the name that would stay with him for the rest of his life, "Jocko." Shortly later, he moved to WDAS, which was just purchased by Max Leon.
About seven years later, he started doing morning drive on WLIB in New York City while still continuing the afternoon gig on 'DAS. Later, he kept the Philly job but switched NYC stations and time periods going to WOV, later called WADO (owned by the Macfadden-Bartell group) for late evenings and eventually to WWRL.
These shows were all live and it got to be a bit much for Jocko. He set up a studio in his basement where he taped the New York programs while adding Boston, St. Louis, Detriot and Miami. The WDAS show remained live from the WDAS studios in Philadelphia's Fairmount Park.
Henderson had a TV show which was carried in New York City on WNTA. In 1970, Jocko started a local magazine called "Philly Talk." He wrote, produced and announced his own commercial, one which we have in our Broadcast Pioneers archive.
After running unsuccessfully for the United States Congress in the Second District in 1978, he spent much of his efforts promoting his "Get Ready" program for school districts around the country. Jocko made records of himself teaching our youth everything from math to American history with rap lyrics. In 1989, Jocko was invited by oldies station WCBS-FM to take part in their promotion of favorite DJs.
Jocko was also a music promoter. He co-owned the song "Long, Lonely Nights." He was also a record producer. In 1962, the Wand Record label issued two albums, Rocket To The Stars & Jocko's Show Stoppers, that contained many of the recordings he played on the air, including two narrations, one being "A Blast Off to Love."
Jocko's son, Doug Henderson, Jr. has followed in his dad's footsteps. Starting in Philly broadcasting in the seventies at WDAS-FM, the younger Henderson has been a part of the city's radio scene ever since.
Broadcast Pioneers board member Kal Rudman remembers "his mentor," Jocko. On Friday, November 19, 2004, Jocko Henderson was inducted into our "Hall of Fame."
In August of 2001, we received an e-mail from Raymond Witter of Great Britain. He writes in part:
...I just found out today that Jocko was dead and it saddened me greatly. You'll trip on this. I thought he was about the same age as Kurtis Blow (Kurtis was born in 1959). Why?
I'm from England. I'm England's first rapper, the original English rapper. The first rap that reached England was 'rapper's delight' then 'christmas rapping' then 'rhythm talk' by Jocko.... All I remember is the bits you quoted plus 'I'm the midleweight champ at 163, you've gotta be bad to hang with me'. I thought he'd just came out when I learnt it in 1980.
I've been here 12 years and I street perform raps and songs and I tell people that his was the third rap I memorized. I googled and saw that he was 82 and dead and thought maybe the Jocko I imitated had taken his name but when I saw his rhymes I knew it was him and I tripped. I'm going to do a poem on him called 'the original rapper'....
Jim "Dandy" Courtright, a visitor to our website, e-mailed:
I listened to Jocko every night on WADO, Harlem, New York. I even remember the poem. "The rockets are lined up side by side, ready to take their most exciting ride." Something about we're ready to go, with your rocketship commander, Jocko. "We'll be on the moon with the few who'll last, when we leave the earth with a big, bad, blast." This was sometime in the late 50's.
A visitor to our website identified as Professor D, e-mailed:
I grew-up in Philly during the forty and fiftys. It was a great place to be and one of my greatest joys and fond memories was tuning into WDAS for the JOCKO show. I can still here him saying, and me hanging on his every word, "HICKORY DICKORY DOCK; THE MOUSE RAN UP THE CLOCK BUT AT 12 05 TO HIS RADIO HE DIVED AND SAID.LET'S RETURN TO THE JOCK." My mother had a candy store in West Philly at 56th and Christian, most all the music on the juke box were songs I heard on his show and every body loved the music. I am old now but I still can hear JOCKO tell me when I go to BARTELS at 52nd and Market to buy a record that JOCKO sent me. How I miss the old days. He was the best DJ Philly ever had or ever will have.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Text written and researched by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
Photo originally donated by Darryl Williams, Kae Williams' son
© 2009, Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
All Rights Reserved
The e-mail address of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia is firstname.lastname@example.org