Posts Tagged ‘Houston DJ Icon Paul Berlin Has Died’

Houston DJ Icon Paul Berlin Has Died

July 1, 2017



Legendary Houston Disk Jockey Paul Berlin is dead at age 86 at his home in the city, following a brief illness. For whatever reason, we only learned of his passing today, thanks to a thoughtful reader that sent us the link to this nice article by David Barron of the Houston Chronicle.

The date of Paul’s death and Barron’s article already are a week old from the June 23, 2017 moments they each occurred. Thanks for the nice job you did, David Barron! and thank you, especially, Paul Berlin, for being the guy that played the soundtrack of our lives for all of us young pups who started the long climb to coming of age listening to you spin the music that came from two main AM radio station places in the early 1950s – and those included KNUZ and KILT.

Most of us chose KNUZ because that’s where you were.

Through those sound wave portals at KNUZ came the basic original stomp-and-boom rock and roll music that was Chuck Berry – and Little Richard – and Elvis Presley – and Jerry Lee Lewis – and Fats Domino – and Buddy Holly – and all the lesser individual light single artists and great groups – like the Pretenders – to get our blood passions flowing on a connection link to each other – as our early selfish adolescent tastes spelled out what we wanted for ourselves and from each other in life – and how we wanted “happily ever after” to turn out in the long run – whatever that was.

Paul Berlin was our Pied Piper – and he didn’t even need a flute or a Nottingham Forest suit of clothes to get us there. He just had to be the young adult figure in our lives who seemed to know how to talk with us in ways that didn’t scream new rules in our ears – and even someone who could make some of the same mistakes that some of us also made and live to learn from these and move on.

Amazing! Only yesterday I was sharing an old Paul Berlin story with a friend of mine who now lives in Memphis. Berlin was a native Memphian, getting his start in radio there before moving to Houston in the early 1950s. The story I shared was legendary Paul Berlin. He used to describe Memphis as the only city in the country that had been built on a bluff – and run on one too. I always understood that the city itself, indeed, was built upon a topographical bluff above the high eastern bank of the Mississippi River, but I never really understood the other part. Assumption always flows in my mind that it had something to do with political chicanery at city hall or the chamber of commerce.

I’ve got to share this next story because it’s the primary incident of reference I had in mind – and it deserves to be remembered as maybe a lesson that also spared some of us the same kind of fate down the line – and not something that gets shoved away and buried under an avalanche of “wonderful Paul Berlin” tales – which are OK too. They simply aren’t everything. And this is certainly no hack at the wonderful character of the man that was Paul Berlin. We loved him for the very reason he may have gotten into some short-term trouble over what happened here. – Paul wasn’t that much older than quite a few of us back then and, as we all get to learn in some way, immaturity is not restricted to ages ending in the syllable “teen”.

Once Upon A New Years Eve

I can’t remember the exact year, but it had to have been some time in the 1954-59 range. It was a New Year’s Eve – and Paul found himself working that night – and maybe with a little help from the same stuff that a lot of people imbibe on New Year’s Eve who aren’t working. As listeners, all we could tell, and maybe that’s all it was, is that Paul seemed a little different that night. – Different, as in “silly different.”

He began to kid that he had brought some reading material to keep himself company as he worked alone on a night that everyone else was celebrating as the world’s biggest annual party night.

It was when Paul named the three books he’d brought to read – and then followed that revelation by pointing out to us over the air the irony of the authors’ names for each that his working shift suddenly was ended for the night by someone else at the station – and Paul got the rest of the night off.

The books Paul Berlin named were “Under the Grandstand”, “Yellow Stream”, and “Antlers in the Treetop”. Perhaps, you are familiar with the names of their authors – and why this information shortened Paul’s workload that long ago New Year’s Eve night.

If Paul ever talked about that night again, I do not recall. We were just glad to get him back on the air at his normal times. And, who knows? Maybe Paul helped model a jam that a few of us were able to avoid down the road because of our concern for him.

Sweet Dreams, Old Friend

Here’s the link to Paul Berlin’s obituary. His memorial service is planned for late July.

Godspeed, Paul Berlin. Rest in Peace. And say hello to Chuck Berry for all of us.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle