KPFA radioman Wesley Burton killed in car accident

by The People’s Minister of Information JR

In the early morning hours of April 18, veteran KPFA radio broadcaster Wesley Burton was killed in a car accident when a hit and run driver struck his car, reportedly killing him before the ambulance could arrive on a North Oakland street, while he was in route home from KPFA radio station approximately two miles away. He left behind a wife and three children.

Wesley Burton with the family he loved
Wesley Burton with the family he loved

He was a radio broadcaster for over 20 years at stations KMEL, KPFA and KPFB, as well as at Youth Radio. He most recently was a board operator at KPFA and he co-hosted Side Show Radio and After Hours Radio, both on the station.

He was a good friend of mine and we worked together for years at KMEL, Youth Radio and KPFA. He was a good natured, funny, hard-working guy who loved his family; I would see him with them often. Another member of our radio crew, who was best friends with Wesley Burton was Chris Riggins. I talked to Chris about his recollections of the late great radioman Wesley Burton.

M.O.I. JR: How did you and Wesley Burton first meet?

Chris Riggins: Me and Wes met first through the word of mouth of our sister, Adaysha, and then we finally met on a BART train headed to my first day at Youth Radio. We didn’t like each other ‘til we met each other. But after about an hour of kicking it, we was down by law! We gelled ‘cause we had so many similar interests!

M.O.I. JR: What will you remember most about Wesley?

Chris Riggins: The thing I’ll remember most about Wes’s personality is his loyalty to his friends. He was one of the most loyal down homies you could have. You never had to question if he had your back. He looked out for us.

M.O.I. JR: What was it like working at KMEL with Davey D on Street Knowledge with Wes? How about at Youth Radio?

Chris Riggins: Working at Youth Radio and for Davey was great! It set us on our path for life. Wes stayed in radio and I took what I learned to perform with jazz bands and promoting night life. During those long hours working on producing radio pieces and just being surrounded by the media, it taught us to always speak your mind, which was valuable to our friendship ‘cause we could always talk to each other with ease even in disagreement! It was the good ol’ days, as the old folks put it.

M.O.I. JR: What kind of father was Wes?

Chris Riggins: Wes was the best kind of father ‘cause he was fun! He was the cool dad he never had! His kids were everything to him and it made him have a sense of pride in his family to see his kids having fun.

M.O.I. JR: After you both left KMEL and Youth Radio, how did that affect y’all’s relationship?

Chris Riggins: Well, like any two friends, we followed our own paths, but our personal relationship was always the same. He would call me or I would call him when either of us felt we hadn’t spoke to each other in a while. We still helped each other with the kids.

And he was one of my biggest supporters. He always would come to shows and ask, “Is anybody besides you gonna be funny?” He was constantly trying to get me on air to promote my shows.

M.O.I. JR: If people would like to offer their financial support to Wesley’s family, how could they do that?

Chris Riggins: Of course there is a GoFundMe account. Just type in gofundme.com/wesleyburton, and people can always take donations to KPFA and leave them for Wesley Burton.

M.O.I. JR: Are there any events planned for Wesley?

Chris Riggins: There will be a public memorial soon, but the funeral is next Thursday.

The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at blockreportradio@gmail.com.