December 06, 2019

Debbi Calton’s Last Day

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Debbi Calton WMGK Debbi Calton WMGK

For almost forty years Debbi Calton has kept Philadelphia radio listeners informed and entertained with her very personal style. On December 6, 2019, her last day at WMGK, she had the difficult task of saying goodbye. Saying goodbye to her was not easy.

I have known Debbi since she came to Philadelphia from WMET in Chicago in August of 1983 to join us at WYSP. I still remember when I was on the air and Debbi came into the studio for the first time. We hit it off right away. Of course, that isn’t hard to do with Debbi.

We did have more things in common than most in radio. The biggest thing (besides our love of music) was our history. I came from a Navy family. Debbi came from an Air Force family. You move around a lot. She lived in several places including Turkey. You don’t have lifelong friends because that is hard to do when you go to countless numbers of grade schools and three different high schools.

I immediately liked Debbi on the air. She just sounds like she loves talking to you. One of the things that have been asked of me over the years is “What is Debbi really like?” It is an easy question to answer. When it comes to Debbi, what you hear is also what you get off air. She has the same sparkling personality with no pretense at all. There’s little wonder that everyone who has worked with this very popular mid-day hostess loves her.

No one can ever accuse Ms Calton of not being a caring person or a team player. In the media you often encounter people who think they are the center of the Universe. Debbi doesn’t just pretend to care. She is very active in all kinds of charities, fund raisers for public TV and many local events. She is more than generous with her time for the radio station as well.

My favorite example of her literally giving her body up for the station was for a special race at the Penn Relays. It was a race designed for media people to run in a relay. Most other media outlets used some ringers on their relay team because they wanted to go all out to win. WYSP did not use anyone who wasn’t on the air. We were way over our heads in this race.

Recruiting a team to run wasn’t easy. I think I was the only one on the team that had any running experience.

Among those who volunteered to run was Debbi Calton. As it turned out, she was the only female on the track when race day came. She could have faked an illness or could have just backed out at that point. No one would have blamed her, but she didn’t. She may have wished that she had backed out because she pulled a muscle and was in pain for a few days. I guess it goes without saying that we finished last.

A much less painful experience for her was getting a Grammy. Debbi contributed her talents to creating an anti-bullying album for kids. It won the award for best children’s record. That meant a trip to receive the award where she rubbed elbows with many superstar recording artists.

As luck would have it, both of us left WYSP and ended up at WMGK. Again, I preceded her so I was delighted when they made the choice of Debbi Calton doing mid-days at WMGK. I knew she would do great.

“Great” is an understatement. For over 26 years Debbi has captured the hearts of Philadelphia and some pretty sensational ratings.

You can see a video of our celebration of Debbi’s 20th anniversary at the station (click here). That was small compared to the goodbye party.

Her last day was filled with co-workers dropping in with gifts, cards and hugs. You can bet I got my hug. The listeners called in all during her last shift to offer their personal goodbyes. Debbi Calton is loved by all who know her. She will be very much missed.

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