WJLD History – 1970s
In the mid 70’s, WJLN 104.7 FM becomes WZZK FM (playin’ hard rock(!) with Father Tree) and owner Johnston can’t make it go. Back to the AM…wake up to the Cunningham Sisters on Sunday morning at 5 AM. Jessie Champion, Jr. does news and “Sound Off.” In June 1977,19 year old Gary Richardson, on the air on WDJC and behind a camera at Channel 13, interns for three months at WJLD as part of his course work at Jefferson State Community College, works for a grade and later is hired as a full-time engineer at both WJLD-AM and WZZK-FM (formerly WJLN). Leo Taylor Jr., Harold Boggarty and Manuel “Mellow Man” Fitch work part-time, including running the automation system.
Shelley, “the Black Pope” Pope does two afternoon slots and upon leaving in 1978, Gary Richardson gets his first chance on the air, a 9am-1pm slot following Tall Paul’s 5-9am. Ron January does sports in the morning and mid afternoons from 1-5pm, Johnny Austin the “Disco Kid” is on from 5-8pm, andMichelle Shivers 10pm-1am WJLD’s first lady, is doing late night. Charlotte “Ms Love” Mitchell (now Taylor) is also on the air from 1-5am. Sylvester “Weldon Clark” King (formerly of WENN) is on from 8-10pm playing gospel taking after Willie McKinstry. Willie passed away in 1977 after 33 years in radio at WJLD
Tall Paul leads the walk-out at WENN in 1977 after A.G. Gaston bought the station from John McClendon (owner of the OK line of stations) and replaced Station Manager Joe Lackey with Larry Hayes. Paul, Shelley Stewart, Maurice “Thin Man” King and Erskine Faush – the dean of Birmingham radio on the air continuously since 1951 – all walk and start WATV 900 AM and Paul leaves for WJLD in 1978 when Johnston offers him a big incentive.