Dick Purtan - 45 Years Dedicated to Comedy and Community

Dick Purtan is regarded as Michigan’s most respected and recognized air personality.  For 45 years in Detroit, Dick entertained his loyal following of listeners with comedic commentary and topical wit, covering current events right off the front pages.  Dick would later add a cast of characters known as “Purtan’s People” to his morning show line-up.  Impersonating local and national celebrities and politicians, Dick Purtan & Purtan’s People added a unique brand of satire that made the show Detroit’s version of “Saturday Night Live”. 

Dick’s work has been recognized on a national level, as well.  He has twice been named Billboard Magazine’s “Major Market Air Personality of the Year” and is the winner of Radio’s Top Prize, “The National Association of Broadcasters MARCONI Award” as “Major Market Air Personality of the Year.” Plus, he has received the Radio & Records “Industry Achievement Award” as “Personality of the Year” four times.

For 23 years, his annual 16-hour Salvation Army Radiothon has raised almost $24 million dollars for the Salvation Army’s Bed & Bread program. This past February’s Radiothon, Dick’s final as the host, brought in over $2.3 million.  The Army surprised Dick and Gail Purtan during the broadcast by naming a new Bed & Bread Truck in their honor.

Dick has been profiled on ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN and has also been featured in Time, People, Newsweek, and US magazines.  Plus, Dick’s show is also included in the archives at the New York Museum of Radio and Television Broadcasting.  In their first-ever “Best of Detroit” issue, HOUR Detroit Magazine selected Dick Purtan & Purtan’s People as the city’s best radio morning show.  The readers of the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, HOUR Detroit and Ambassador Magazines also voted Dick the Best Radio Personality.

Today, Dick sits on the Board of Children’s Hospital of Michigan and over the last 30 years has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital. 

13 years ago, Dick and his wife Gail added cancer research to their fundraising efforts when Gail was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, the deadliest of all women’s gynecological cancers.  By utilizing Dick’s media exposure, the Purtans have been able to help raise the level of public awareness about Ovarian Cancer, and at the same time have raised and contributed over $2 million dollars for the Gail Purtan Ovarian Cancer Research Fund at the Karmanos Cancer Center and the Purtan Family Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation. 


Detroit News recognized Dick as “Michiganian of the Year.” 


The International Olympic Committee recognizes Dick’s charitable contributions by naming him an official Olympic Torch Bearer for the Salt Lake City Winter Games.


Dick and Gail Purtan are the recipients of the McCarty Cancer Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year” award in recognition for their contribution to cancer research.

The Rotary Club of Detroit presents Dick with the “Stanley S. Kresge Outstanding Philanthropist Award”.

Dick is inducted into the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame

Michigan State University’s Department of Telecommunications dedicates the “Dick Purtan Studio” in his honor.


Dick is honored with the Detroit Radio Advertising Group’s first ever “Be Fabulous Lifetime Achievement Award.”  

Dick is inducted into the “National Radio Hall of Fame” in Chicago. 


Dick is inducted into the National Association of Broadcasting Hall of Fame in Washington, D.C. Only one person in the radio industry is inducted each year.


The Old Newsboys’ Goodfellow Fund of Detroit honors Dick and Gail at their 20th Annual Tribute Breakfast; receiving the “Edward H. McNamara Goodfellow of the Year Award” presented to distinguished and noteworthy individuals who have significantly contributed to the community.

March 26, 2010

Dick retires after 45 years on the airwaves of Detroit!  Vows to continue giving back to the community after he gets some sleep.