When Maurice "Hot Rod" Hulbert Jr. arrived from Memphis in 1951, he took Baltimore by storm. He was the first full-time African-American disk jockey here and his nightly broadcasts on WITH soon developed a crossover following. Black or white, you had to listen to "Hot Rod" if you wanted to be hip.
Mr. Hulbert, who died recently at 80, was a fixture on the Baltimore entertainment scene for four decades. At the height of his popularity, he ran beauty pageants and talent shows and emceed visiting acts from the Supremes to the Jackson Five. He even did the Apollo, the famous Harlem theater.
On his "Commander Hot Rod and the Rocket Ship" show he took his radio listeners to outer space long before the astronauts did, describing the planets, playing dazzling sound effects and giving astrological information. For several generations of young listeners, he was a Baltimore radio pioneer who had to be heard.
Pub Date: 12/28/96