The Last DJ: Tom Petty 1950-2017

 photo courtesy of Mark Bowman Images
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Frank Erwin Center, Austin, TX – May 2, 2017

The Last DJ World Premiere Radio Broadcast

– Jody Denberg, Host Mon-Thu 5p-8p & Fri 12p-4p (Scroll down to listen to Jody’s 2002 interview with Tom Petty)

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In October of 2002, I was invited to New York to host a nationwide premiere radio broadcast with Tom Petty for his new album at the time, The Last DJ. Being a New Yorker I was comfortable in the city, and knowing Tom Petty as we all do I loved him and admired him but felt he was one of us – a music fan. So I was more excited than nervous. But the event was live “coast to coast” for 90 minutes in front of a studio audience at the Museum Of Television and Radio, and walking in I got pretty anxious.

In fact, when I was inside and introduced to Tom Petty I blurted out that “maybe we could hang out after the show and have a smoke.” He looked at me kindly but with his head askew. After all, it was pretty presumptuous of me to ask that right off the bat.

The show went well (as you can hear below) and the room emptied when it was over. I was the last to leave as I couldn’t find my manilla folder with my typed notes and questions. As I searched for my folder a gentleman came down and said “you must be Jody. Tom’s looking for you.”

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I went upstairs and Tom said – “well, let’s have that smoke.” He took me away from his manager Tony Dimitriades, daughter Adria and others in his posse, and we had a smoke and shot the breeze comfortably in a corner. Every once in a while I remembered who I was talking to, but for the most part I was talking to a friend.

When we adjourned he said – “let’s take some pictures! C’mon, it’s “The Last DJ!”. We mugged for the photos you see and he rejoined his group. As I prepared to leave the Museum and stroll giddily into the Autumn Big Apple evening I asked if anyone had seen my folder as I still needed my notes.


I’ve got your folder,” Tom said, and he retrieved it and slid it gently across a table to me. On it was a self-portrait Tom had drawn, and a note of thanks. I was elated and thanked him with a hug. In this moment, I’d like to imagine that I was thanking Tom Petty in advance, on behalf of all of us. In any event, I will express that gratitude now.

Thank you, Tom, for all of the joy and happiness you brought the world. Thanks for doing the Heartbreakers’ 40th Anniversary tour and (unwitting) farewell lap. Thank you for returning to Austin one last time, and for having Gary Clark Jr. join you on stage. And thank you, Tom Petty, for all the great music you left for us to enjoy forever, music full of your heart and soul.

 …And the days went by, like papers in the wind. Everything changed, then changed again….

“To Find A Friend” by Tom Petty

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