himself doesn't expect such things.
"I'm still always thinking, 'What if I had to get a real job someday?' "
Brown, 45, chuckled. "I haven't always been in professional radio. I've done everything from washing dishes to washing cars, from working in a meat market to selling men's clothes."
The Quiet Storm is broadcast Monday through Thursday nights from 10 to 2 and Sundays from 7 p.m. to midnight. In the Jan. 3 to March 27 ratings period, the first three hours of the weeknight Quiet Storm had an average 12.6 percent share of the audience. (Arbitron does not monitor listeners after 1 a.m.) The station's closest competitors in the time period - WDAS-FM (105.3) and WIOQ-FM (102.1) - earned significantly less, with averages of 6.3 (WDAS) and 5.6.
A blend of mellow rhythm and blues and jazzy ballads, the "Quiet Storm" format used by WUSL has been successful across the country, says Kal Rudman, the South Jersey-based publisher of Friday Morning Quarterback, a national tip sheet for radio programmers. "It appeals across the board, but targets lovers - people sitting on the couch in the evening doing what they gotta do," Rudman explained.
It has proven particularly alluring, he said, to Madison Avenue's most desired audience: women between the ages of 25 and 44.
Locally, the show is blessed with a strong lead-in from Power 9 at 9, WUSL's weeknight countdown of funky hits, hosted by "Stanley T" Evans. The way Brown sees it, it's the job of The Quiet Storm is to hold onto those listeners - Power 9 at 9 is the station's highest-rated hour - and to add new ones as the sleepyheads call it a night.
Brown's following cuts across social and geographical boundaries. From the home-entertainment systems of Haddonfield to the boom boxes of North Philadelphia. From the bedroom communities of the Main Line to the high-rise dorms at the University of Pennsylvania. Wherever you find lovers making music, chances are you'll hear the strains of The Quiet Storm arising with voluptuous swells.
Of course, not all listeners use Anthony "Chocolate" Brown's radio show as a steamy make-out soundtrack. His stream of sophisticated love songs - by
artists such as Anita Baker, Teddy Pendergrass, Ralph Tresvant and the Winans - attracts folks who tune in expressly to tune out. As Power 99 program director Dave Allan puts it, "Some people put on The Quiet Storm and just fall asleep to it."
Until Brown left WDAS to join WUSL in December 1989, the six-year-old program was "music-intensive," Allan said.
In other words, there was no live announcer. "I'd decided a long time ago that I'd leave The Quiet Storm that way until I was able to get Tony," he explained.
"Tony's vision of the show is uniquely Philadelphia," said Allan. "He has a tremendous amount of input into what's played."
Brown brought along a preference for more classic soul and a little jazz. But more important, he brought the show rock-solid stability. In a business known for its vagabonds and transient announcers, he is a rare exception. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Brown has spent his entire 22-year career on the local airwaves.
What does Brown consider the key to his success? "I just try to let the audience know . . . that it's possible to feel good," he said, his voice as warm as a father's embrace.
"It's not easy, living, so I do what I can to make people feel better - to feel good about themselves and their relationships. . . . I want to give out a good feeling, a good vibe, and always try to be honest and for real with people."
Brown thinks of himself primarily as a family man. The voice of The Quiet Storm lives in suburban Montgomery County with his wife, Wanda, and three children: Shandale, 11; LaToya, 10, and Joshua, 4 months. Kelli, his daughter by a previous marriage, has given him two granddaughters whom he speaks of with pride.
"I approach everything from a spiritual standpoint," said Brown, who could be heard on The Quiet Storm Thursday offering a low-key midnight sermonette on the necessity of romantic commitment.
"I do that with my job and my home life, my personal life. I find that approach much more fulfilling. Life has a lot more order to it and more beauty.
"You know, the opportunities I've had I've never had to aggressively pursue," said Brown. "The doors just opened, and someone had to be opening those doors. So I give all thanks to God and to my savior, Jesus Christ."
Before Brown signed on with black-oriented Power 99, his voice was heard on a number of Philadelphia stations. He landed his first radio show on Temple University's WRTI-FM (90.1) in 1969 and enrolled as a journalism major at the school shortly thereafter. "The university said, to stay on the radio, I had to take classes," Brown said.
After leaving Temple in 1972, he was hired by Joe "Butter" Tamburro, program director at WDAS.
"Tony's a very sensitive and extremely talented man, and it really it comes out in the music that he plays," said Tamburro.
"He was doing a really nice job for me here, doing something comparable (to The Quiet Storm). But I think he just needed a change. As a friend, I was pleased to see him move on, but still very sorry to see him go. I have a lot of respect for him as a talent," said Tamburro.
Brown spent more than 17 years at 'DAS, hosting the station's Sunday morning jazz show and The Soft Touch, the evening program in the style of The Quiet Storm. Since Brown's departure, said Tamburro, Touch has been replaced with Whispers in the Dark, another romantic-music program.
Though Brown says he was happy at 'DAS, when Power 99 offered him The Quiet Storm, he couldn't refuse. The name The Quiet Storm was a large part of the lure.
"The name has that mystique to it," said Brown. "It has that same mystique all over the country, wherever stations use the 'Quiet Storm' format."
"(The program) is a really good balance of what I like best about radio. I'm still developing it. And I don't think the show has even yet reached its potential," said Brown.
The only radio job that could even come close, he said, would be something in contemporary jazz. "That's always been a favorite music of mine, the music I get the most out of."
It's not likely to happen soon given his Arbitron numbers, but if Power 99 were to let his contract lapse, there's little doubt that Brown would stay in radio. His dedication to the medium is as strong as a 100,000-watt signal.
"I remember always wanting to be a DJ. As a child I listened to the radio for hours and hours. While other kids were watching TV, I'd sit in front of a record player and pretend I was on the radio," he said.
"And though it might sound incredible, it must have been when I was 4 or 5 years old (that I realized I wanted to be a DJ). When I was a kid - back in the old days in my South Philly neighborhood - I used to play records at rent parties. . . . Since I couldn't read then, people were astonished that a 5- year-old kid knew the names of all those records. After that, I never considered anything else as a career."