WJLD History – 1970s

It’s February 28, 1972, and the studio moves from downtown Birmingham to its present location at 1449 Spaulding Ishkooda Road — thank you again, engineer Jimmy Jones. Late nighters added to the staff are Larry Thomas and Jim Young. Bob Shivers is News Director.

Larry Hayes from WENN with Willie McKinstry commemorating his 33rd year in broadcasting

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.

Fitch at WJLD automation system which allowed for overnight broadcast (1976)
WJLD automation system (1976)

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

Leo Taylor, Jr.
Weldon Clark
Ron January
Charlotte Mitchell
Paul Dudley
Gary Richardson
Ennis Bragg
Johnny Austin
Manuel Fitch
Shelley Pope

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.

On the playing field, the WJLD Microphones baseball team! (Tall Paul, rear and center)

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