Jerry Blavat “The Geator with the Heater, The Boss with the Hot Sauce”
He’s the Geator with the Heator; the Boss with the Hot Sauce; the King of Philly Rock & Roll. He’s as much a part of Philadelphia as cheese steaks, Tastykakes, soft pretzels, and the Liberty Bell. He has been entertaining the Delaware Valley for over 40 years. Now Jerry Blavat brings his exciting show to the Pennsylvania Coal Region and WISL!
As a dancer, radio and television disc jockey, performer, entertainer, producer, and nightclub owner, Jerry was born Gerald Joseph Blavat on July 3, 1940. He was raised in South Philadelphia and began his show business career at the age of 13 when he debuted as a dancer on the Original Bandstand hosted by Bob Horn. Two years later, at the age of 16, he became the road manager for Danny and the Juniors, a top Doo Wop group of the late fifties. At the same time, he met Sammy Davis Jr. They became life long friends and when Sammy married his third wife, Altovese Gore, Jerry was his best man. Blavat became Don Rickles’ personal valet in his early years and they remain friends until this day.
In 1960, he started his own radio talk show on WCAM (AM), in Camden, New Jersey. (He won the show in a crap game). In September of that year, the South Philadelphia Review reported that a new radio show would be broadcast live from the Venus Lounge at Broad and Reed Streets in South Philly. The paper said, “The name of the new venture is called the Jerry Blavat Show and features a South Philadelphia personality by the same name.” Then on a snowy night in mid January, pulling out a stack of records, he began entertaining listeners throughout the night, and the legend of “The Geator” was born.
In the mid-sixties, reports had his audience at a half million teenagers per month. Much of Jerry’s broadcasts in the early days were done on reel to reel tape. Recording the program in his garage studio, the tapes played while Blavat made personal appearances. In the mid-sixties, Jerry’s broadcasts were also added for a time to the program schedule of WHAT. On that station, Blavat stated that he only made $18 a week ($1.50 per hour). Most of his audience didn’t buy it, but it was true. The real money was at the hops, not on the air. However, Blavat knew he needed the airwaves to promote the appearances.
In 1965, he produced and hosted his own TV show “The Discophonic Scene” on CBS’ Philadelphia outlet WCAU-TV. From 1967-70, the show aired on WFIL-TV, Channel Six and was syndicated through Triangle Publications coast-to-coast in 40 markets.
When the British Invasion came along, Jerry never became part of it. He didn’t like format radio, never participated in it and has always been his own man. In 1966, Jerry said: “It had been hell during the Beatles reign, when there had been much pressure to get on the bandwagon. But I sensed that it just didn’t have enough soul for my kids… So I finally gave in and played a few, and I got bombarded by phone calls saying ‘Geator, what you doing, man?'”
In April of 1972 he became one of the first on-air personalities on WCAU-FM, an oldies station. He was on Sunday nights from 7 to 10 pm. He went on WFIL as a regular in the fall of 1983, hosting Sunday nights and quite often weeknights, when WFIL returned as an oldie station with Harvey Holiday as Program Director. In 1987, Blavat moved to “Philly Gold Radio,” WPGR. It became “Geator Gold Radio” in April of 1992 when Blavat purchased the station.
Broadcast Pioneers Vice-President Gerry Wilkinson, who produced “The Legends of Rock and Roll” featuring Jerry Blavat at Channel 12, along with some of the WHYY-TV Doo Wop events said: “One day I stopped down at Jerry’s studio while he was on the air. The broadcast still had 15 minutes to go when “Mama Geator” (Jerry’s mother) showed up. That was the only time I ever saw his show ever take a back burner. He immediately went into a record (yes, he still plays those old 45’s) and ran out to greet her pulling me with him. It was something special to see a 60-year-old man being that devoted to his mom. He’s a good guy. He worshiped his mom. To me that was a good trait to see in my friend.” His mother passed away in December of 2001.
Throughout his career, Jerry has appeared on “The Tonight Show,” “The Mike Douglas Show,” “The Joey Bishop Show,” “The Mod Squad,” and “The Monkees.” Jerry Blavat has appeared in feature films including “Desperately Seeking Susan,” “Baby, It’s You,” and “Cookie.”
After WPGR, the Geator then built studios in Center City (rebuilt in the Fall of 2002) and currently broadcasts his daily program from that location.
In 1998, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in April of 1998 and was inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia’s “Hall of Fame” on Friday, November 22, 2002. On Monday, May 1, 2000 Jerry was interviewed on the Broadcast Pioneers’ webcast, PIONEERS IN BROADCASTING.
He still owns his own nightclub called Memories in Margate, which has celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Besides broadcasting five days a week, he works at various clubs most nights. While many refer to James Brown as “the hardest working man in show business,” the title should belong to Jerry Blavat, who said many years ago: “I may not be the best jock in the world, but I’ve got my own built-in excitement meter.”
WISL Radio is proud to present Jerry Blavat to the people of the Central Susquehanna Valley weekdays from 5 pm to 7 pm. We hope you enjoy The Geator as much as we do.
Like the Geator says: “Keep on rockin’ ’cause you only rock once.”