Terry Lee returns with oldies radio show

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Almost anyone who grew up in the area in the '60s and '70s remembers the "TL Sound" made popular by radio DJ Terry Lee.

Listeners can get acquainted -- or reacquainted -- with that voice starting Sunday, when Terry Lee returns to the Pittsburgh airwaves with a weekly oldies show on WJAS-AM (1320).

The Terry Lee Show show will air live on Sundays from 8 p.m. to midnight.

Mr. Lee played a mix of the era's pop hits, '50s and '60s R&B and ballads. The last portion of the program was the popular "Music for Young Lovers," in which he played slow ballads and romantic tunes. The playlist and format of the new WJAS program will echo his original show.

Mr. Lee says he hopes to re-create what connected him to his teenage listeners decades ago. "They have fond memories of that time of their life, and I helped create some of those."

Terry Lee Trunzo grew up in New Eagle and graduated from Monongahela High School. He started playing records at high school dances when he was 16. He started his radio career at WESA-AM in Charleroi and worked at WZUM-AM in Carnegie and the former WARO-AM in Canonsburg. In 1964, the 21-year-old joined McKeesport station WMCK-AM, which became WIXZ in 1969.

In the '60s and '70s, he was one of the most popular DJs among teen listeners in the Mon Valley and surrounding areas. He also made the move to TV, hosting dance shows on WIIC (now WPXI), KDKA and WPGH. He later branched out into other career paths, including record producer for several local bands and radio station owner.

He left town more than two decades ago for Phoenix, Ariz., where he hosted a syndicated oldies show.

Mr. Lee left broadcasting in 1992 when he sold his radio station in Marco Island, Fla., and had no plans to return to the microphone. But a visit to the Pittsburgh area in February to host an oldies dance at the Palisades in McKeesport changed all that.

An enthusiastic crowd of former listeners showed up at the Palisades to dance to the soundtrack of their youth and the reception they gave Mr. Lee sparked the idea of reviving his radio show here.

"The reaction was just astounding. Everybody in the room stood up," he says. "I can't tell you what it meant to me. I realized at that point how much the radio show meant to everyone.

"I miss it myself. I'm looking forward to coming back to Pittsburgh and being on the radio there. It was the best time of my life." He and his wife live in Bellville, Ohio, but plan to relocate to the Pittsburgh area.

CDs of some of the old Terry Lee WMCK/WIXZ shows are available on his website, www.tlsoundco.com.

Mr. Lee will do two more upcoming oldies dances next month: One at the Stockdale Fire Hall on May 1. (Tickets: 724-330-5002), and another at the McKeesport Palisades on May 15. (Tickets: 412-672-2001/412-370-2971).

Adrian McCoy: amccoy@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1865.


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