Monday, March 26, 2012


Douglas "Jocko" Henderson was a legendary Philadelphia and New York disc jockey. Like a handful of mic pioneers he opened his show with a rap which was so well known in his time that children recited it to keep rhythm while jumping rope. That puts his work in a class with truly ancient clapping songs like "Miss Mary Mack." The rapping wasn't his whole deal... in a nutshell, his schtick was that his radio show was in space and he was an astronaut. ...but about that rap:
"From way up here in the stratosphere,we gotta holler mighty loud and clear
ee-tiddy-o, and a ho, And I'm back on the scene with the record machine,
Saying ooh-pap-doo and how do you do?"

Originally from Baltimore, it's unsurprising that his first gig was in his hometown in 1950 at 1010 WSID-AM. Some sources claim it was WBAL-AM. But those same sources can't decide if it was in1950 or 1952. Henderson was born in 1981, so he would have been 32 in 1950; a very late start for a radioman. I'll rely on the younger = more likely DJs, and smaller stations = more likely starts as a thesis. Regardless, it was there in Baltimore he heard the rapping schtick of fellow DJ Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert on WITH-AM. In 1952 Henderson moved to Philly, for a gig on WHAT-AM., which is actually where he picked up the name "Jocko"and started rapping himself. His program  ran for 2 hours on weekday afternoons.

He did so well on WHAT, that WDAS-AM poached him just a few months later. And Jocko ended up flipping 45s there until 1974. Not that he stood still. He began commuting to New York city to do a morning show on WLIB-AM starting in 1957. He moved to 1280 WOV-AM in 1959 and stayed there with a late night slot broadcasting from the Palm Cafe in Harlem.  He stayed on when it changed calls to WADO-AM and then to WWRL-AM. Hot Rod" Hulbert" found his way to WOV while he was still there making for some serendipity. Despite the fact that Jocko stole most of his act from Hotrod, he kept rolling with it. In fact in 1961 he sent a prank telegram to the Yuri Gargarin, the first cosmonaut "Congratulations.  I'm glad you made it. Now it's not so lonely up here."
In 1958 he got his own TV show in New York City on WNTA-TV. He retired in the 1980s and after that only made occasional appearances on WCBS. His son, Doug Henderson, Jr. followed in his footsteps and had a show on WDAS in the 1970s. Doug "Jocko" Henderson Sr. died in 2000 after a long struggle with cancer and diabetes. He was 82. In 2004 he was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall Of Fame.