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June 06, 2023

A tribute to John DeBella

Tribute John Debella

Content sponsored by IBEW-Native-060623-JohnDeBella

Limited - DeBella and Lynch Courtesy/IBEW Local 98

Legendary Philadelphia radio personality John DeBella poses for a photo with Mark Lynch, Jr., Business Manager, IBEW Local 98.

Legendary Philadelphia radio personality John DeBella will be hanging up his headphones and calling it a career on June 30th. Millions of loyal listeners and all of us at IBEW Local 98 will miss him on Philadelphia’s radio airwaves, not only because he entertained us for decades with his sharp wit and rock and roll acumen, but also because Local 98 became DeBella’s close partner in many charitable efforts over our long history together.

John DeBella has entertained we lucky Philadelphians for nearly 50 years, first on WMMR 93.3 FM, followed by his current 21-year tenure at WMGK 102.9 FM. In the fickle, ratings-driven world of radio, that’s an incredible run by any measure. His industry peers have acknowledged his greatness and career longevity, recently inducting DeBella into the Philadelphia Music Alliance Walk of Fame with a commemorative plaque on Broad Street and previously inducting him into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia Hall of Fame in 2014.

IBEW Local 98’s wonderful relationship with John DeBella began way back in 2001 when we donated 300 turkeys for his very first “Turkey Drop” event to provide needy Philadelphia families with a Thanksgiving dinner. We’ve never missed a year since. If you do the math, that’s 6,300 turkeys. And counting.

For the past 17 years, Local 98 has partnered with DeBella and WMGK on his annual “Veterans Radiothon,” a one-day live broadcast in which DeBella encourages radio listeners to call in with financial donations and also bid on rock and roll memorabilia to benefit the Philadelphia Veterans Multi-Service Center (VMS) a non-profit run by our dear friend Joe Brooks that provides important health and support services to military vets and their families. Local 98 members, many of whom proudly served in the U.S. military themselves, take great pride in our support of active members of the military, as well as our veterans, police officers, firefighters and all first responders. We consider them our brothers and sisters in-arms. John DeBella’s long-time support of our veterans and economically disadvantaged Philadelphia families is incredibly admirable.

Apparently, John DeBella has enjoyed our partnership as much as we have.

“I'm in a union and I come from a union family,” said DeBella. “Growing up, I saw how important the union was to our well-being. I have always been proud and grateful for the support I have gotten from IBEW Local 98. One of the high points of every Turkey Drop event I have done is seeing those Local 98 trucks pull up with hundreds of turkeys for the needy. When I started doing the Veterans Radiothon there was Local 98 again with cash in hand to help the men and women who protected our country. There isn't any way I could ever thank them enough for what they have done to help me help the people of Philadelphia.”

Thank you, John DeBella, for the laughs, the music and our partnership to improve the lives of so many people who needed a helping hand. Enjoy your well-deserved retirement and remember — always look on the bright side of life.