Pat Patterson, a longtime presence on Triangle airwaves as a radio deejay, passed away Sunday. He was 81 years old, and his death followed a long period of declining health.
Patterson was on the air for six decades, most of them at various stations in the Triangle, including WQDR and WDNC. But he remains best-known for his time at top-40 station WKIX-AM, which brought him to Raleigh in 1969.
Patterson’s colleagues at WKIX included Rick Dees (later of “Disco Duck” fame). With the early-morning “Patterson Program,” he became as renowned for his skits as the music he played.
Along with reading the daily local school menu (punctuated by a recorded “Yum yum!”), Patterson and his cohorts would spin tales set in a universe that sounded like a cross between “Hee Haw” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” Recurrent favorites included “Johnny Dollar” reading Shakespeare; “Two Flags Over Fuquay,” an imaginary amusement park; and the perpetually grounded “Fundermontz Airlines” (“You think you’re flying, but you’re not”).
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“I had a little transistor radio, and I’d listen to him every morning before school,” said Holden Richards, now 55, of Hillsborough. “He was a funny guy, and he played great tunes, too. It was good incentive to get out of bed. Listening to Pat Patterson while you were putting your pants on in the morning made for a better day.”
Patterson won a number of awards over the years, including The Order of the Long Leaf Pine in 1981 and induction into the N.C. Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame in 2010. The latter led him to jokingly describe himself as “a world-famous has-been.”
In recent years, Patterson was semi-retired but still doing weekend shifts on WKIX-AM, playing oldies as well as his trademark skits. And he was always quick with a quip, or a story about the old days – like a 1969 backstage encounter he’d had with Charlie Watts, drummer for the Rolling Stones.
“He was eating popcorn, and after licking off each finger, handed me a shake,” Patterson recounted in 2015. “‘Oh yeah, how you been?’ They were crude, but pretty nice guys.”
Patterson is survived by his wife of 34 years, Becky, as well as four children and step-children and seven grandchildren. Visitation and memorial service will be 10 a.m. Thursday at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.
“It’s sad, I hate to see him go,” said Joe Goodpasture, a friend and co-worker of Patterson’s from the WKIX days. “The word ‘legend’ gets bandied about a lot, but if ever there was a true broadcast legend in that area it was Pat. He was one-of-a-kind.”