Radio Feedback: Berry Gordy’s Surprising First Hit

Welcome to Radio Feedback,’s weekly feature where we ask artists to wax nostalgic on the first time they heard themselves on the radio.

When you think of Motown, you think Berry Gordy. The music industry icon founded the legendary independent label that changed pop culture, and, arguably, America. The label’s roster is one of the greatest (if not the greatest) in pop music history: Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Jackson 5, Diana Ross and the Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, the Four Tops and the Temptations were all cranking out hits at a furious pace in the ’60s and ’70s.

So, when asked Berry Gordy our usual “Radio Feedback” question – “Do you remember the first time you heard yourself on the radio?” – his answering was a bit of a surprise, in that it was not a song by a Motown artist at all… although it was a classic by a legendary artist.

“It was ‘Reet Petite’ by Jackie Wilson,” Gordy told “It wasn’t a Motown song, but it was the first song that I wrote. I was a songwriter back then,” by which he means, he a songwriter for hire, as opposed to being a singer/songwriter recording his own compositions.

He remembers the moment he first heard it: “I was feeling sad, sitting in a room, waiting for somebody to that record, when I heard it, I just went crazy: I got a headache, I thought I was gonna fall out, I was jumping up and down. [I heard it on] on WCHB Radio in Detroit,  I was dancing around and I turned on the TV, and then Dick Clark was playing it on American Bandstand!”


— Brian Ives, 


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