Growing up in Philly and listening to the radio, chances are you, like myself, were a fan of the comforting voice of “Bubba” John Stevens, who for many years held down a weekday spot on WMMR, then at WMGK. For 45 years, Stevens was a radio friend to many, so it’s with great sadness that we pass along the news that he passed away on Wednesday. Stevens, whose real name was John Laboranti, retired from WMGK in 2013.
Bubba John was a key part of WMMR, back in their “The Home of Rock And Roll” days. He did evenings in a lineup that included The Morning Zoo with John DeBella and Mark “The Shark” Drucker, Pierre Robert during the mid-day, Joe Bonadonna in the afternoons, Michael Tearson from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Lyn Kratz who did overnights.
Stevens was loved by his radio fans, and the many colleagues he worked with over his long career in Philly. About his colleague, former ‘MMR Morning Zoo host and current WMGK Morning Show host John DeBella writes on the ‘MGK website:
Bubba and Joe Bonadonna were both hired WMMR around the same time. Now Bubba’s real name is John Stephen Laboranti and management had decided that two names that Italian was too much for one radio station, especially with them following each other on the air. John was asked to change his and with the addition of an “S” he became John Stevens. You can only imagine his ire a few months later when they hired a guy named DeBella. I heard about it for years, but all in fun.
The Bubba name came out a promotion he was doing with the old Rib-it restaurant chain. John was giving away and hosting dinners at their location on Walnut Street. At the time the movie Porky’s was out and very successful and I started referring to John as Porky Stevens whenever I had to talk about his promotion. John was NOT KEEN on this nickname and ask me to kill it. Not one to give in easily I decided to change it from Porky Stevens to Bubba John. By the time the promotion was over most of the listeners and all of the air staff had all adapted to calling him Bubba John. Eventually he gave in as well. Sometime later he told me it was one of the best gifts he had ever gotten. He thought that the John Stevens name was always sort of bland, but Bubba John Stevens had character…and that he was.
You can get more information and read other remembrances about Bubba John on the Classic Rock MGK website here.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Bubba John’s family, friends and fans.
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