WJLD History – 1960s
In 1960, Edward “Johnny Jive” McClure, teaching at Wenonah, and an eight year WBCO veteran, joins WJLD. In 1961, WJLD goes 1000 watts daytime, 250 at night. Otis Dodge is General Manager. Patty Wheeler from “Patty and the Doc,” (WZZK) worked briefly as a copywriter. In the early 60’s, Little Walter, the “Midnight Mover Groover” played the blues with his theme song, “Standing at the Crossroads.” Passing at the ripe age of 95, Walter worked as Program Director at WEDR in the early 50’s and is credited with helping Shelley “the Playboy” Stewart begin his historic run on the air.
Begun on WBCO, Johnny Jive’s “Platter Queen” contests are the rage but owner George Johnston, Jr. blocks the contest’s participation in what would eventually become the Miss Black America contest. Johnny spent years with teens, teaching at Wenonah High School in Birmingham and running Platter Queen contests .
In 1963, Lewis White simulcasts his jazz workshop on JLD and JLN and in ’65, it’s a JLN exclusive until ’72. In ’63, WJLD becomes a 24/7 1000 watt station and WJLN becomes the state’s only 24 hour FM station.
It was 1965 when “The WJLD Singers” included Willie McKinstry, Edward “Johnny Jive” McClure, Larry Hargrove, Walter Anglin and Johnny Jackson (on tenor lead) recorded the “WJLD Theme Song” to the Temptations tune, “The Way You Do The Things You Do.” The station put out its first (and only) 45 RPM record b/w “Little David.” Big “D” 1400 license plates appear also.
1966 saw the station move from Red Mountain to 109 N. 19th St. Rose Johnston takes on managing the station from her husband.
The transmitter moves to the current tower site on Garrison Avenue. New York City’s own “Double 0” Moore, formerly from Leroy Garrett’s WEUP in Huntsville and an “OK” station in Mobile, does morning drive with Lewis White on news. Sam brings a live bear to one of his remotes. Lora Gary returns to WJLD to host “People to People” featuring interviews with business and community leaders. Ennis Bragg now begins his work as gospel announcer. Some radio ministers are supporting the movement and some are not.
1967 and Rick Upshaw from Howard University and Chattanooga, is playin’ a more youthful soulful R&B. Deacon Willie McKinstry and Trumon Puckett play gospel. Cliff Coggin and Chet Alexander do some engineering for the station.
Carl Daniels, a WJLD news man around ’68, becomes the first Black newscaster at WSGN. The Epp’s Devotion Album is issued in 1968 commemorating the fifth anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy. Shelley “the Playboy” Stewart, briefly at WJLD, calls Birmingham City Hall on the air to demand their flag fly at half staff for the month of April ’69, the first anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination.
1969 sees the WJLD staff include Ronald Jaye, Willie McKinstry, Jimmy Lawson, Andrew Fields and Walter Anglin.
Jimmy Lawson, John Streeter, and Johnny Austin are among those on the WJLD basketball team.