Then in the 1960s, Mr. Woods would sometimes stop the music for hours on WDAS to talk about the civil-rights movement and the work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said Joe "Butterball" Tamburro, former general manager of WDAS.
"He had the ear of the African American community. Whenever there was an injustice, we would talk about the issues rather than play music," Tamburro said.
Mr. Woods marched in the streets of Selma, Ala., with King and helped charter 21 buses to bring Philadelphians to King's historic March on Washington in 1963.
Mr. Woods' outspoken support of civil rights made a deep impression on U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah, a Democrat from Philadelphia, who as a young man once saw Mr. Woods host the Jackson Five at the Uptown Theater.
"He was a fixture in Philadelphia. He was the voice of the community," Fattah said yesterday. Mr. Woods, a leader in the fight to desegregate Girard College, rallied people to vote, Fattah remembered, and in 1969 marched in support of teaching African American history in Philadelphia schools. (Beginning with this September's freshman class, all Philadelphia School District students will be required to take an African and African American history course in high school.)
Former Mayor Wilson Goode recalled first tuning in to Mr. Woods on the radio in 1954.
"In the 1950s and the 1960s, he was it - the person everyone listened to," Goode said. "As a young man in the city, I remember the positive impact he had . . . as someone who was simply a hero, an idol, who lived a life many people wanted to emulate.
"He was an outstanding community and civil-rights leader - someone who fought for the underdog and encouraged people who were marginalized," Goode said.
But in 1986, Mr. Woods' comments sparked racial tensions with Asian Americans when he advocated blacks supporting black-owned businesses in their communities instead of Korean merchants.
He served as a vice president of the local NAACP. In 1967, he ran for City Council, narrowly losing after a recount to the incumbent, Tom Foglietta.
In the music world, former WDAS disc jockey Kal Rudman said, Mr. Woods "was arguably the most powerful rhythm-and-blues disc jockey in the country."
If Mr. Woods put a new song on the air, it would translate to thousands of albums sold, Rudman said. Mr. Woods used that leverage with the industry to bring top acts to the Uptown Theater, Rudman said.
The theater was part of music's famous "Chitlin Circuit," where a 75-cent ticket bought entrance to some of black R&B's best talent, Rudman said.
In 1964, Mr. Woods introduced his radio listeners to what he called the "blue-eyed soul" of the Righteous Brothers.
Tamburro said that yesterday, as news of Mr. Woods' passing spread, longtime listeners called WDAS in tears.
"The outpouring from the community just shows - after 10 years off the air - the city will miss him," Tamburro said.
A mural of his likeness was dedicated in 1993, the year he celebrated four decades on the air. That mural, at 5531 Germantown Ave., became a spot to remember Mr. Woods yesterday and mark his passing.
Mr. Woods was to have traveled to Philadelphia in November to be inducted into the Broadcast Pioneers Hall of Fame, Rudman said.
In addition to Harris, Mr. Woods is survived by their daughter, Devin Simms of Hempstead, N.Y.
He is also survived by his wife, Gilda Woods, and their son, George Woods Jr., both of Philadelphia.
Mr. Woods is also survived by two daughters from his first marriage, Janet Woods Earle, of Fort Bragg, N.C., and Lynne Wallace of Orange County, Calif.; and a brother, Clarence Woods of New York City.
He is also survived by four grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were pending.
Contact staff writer Jacqueline Soteropoulos at 215-854-4497 or email@example.com.