WJLD History – 1980s

Larry Levan and James Freeman with fans at a WJLD remote
Tall Paul with fans and Harley prize (1980)

1980 sees WZZK FM sold by the Johnston family after refusing requests by the WJLD staff to make it a Black FM. Paul “Tall Paul” Dudley White, famed for his 60’s civil rights work on the air at WENN Radio, rings the bell and drives ’em home at WJLD. Ron January, Larry Levan, James Freeman, C.C. Scott and Oliver “OB the Master” Brewer are on the air and soon Eric “High Speed” Chase, Gene “Nassau ” Lockett and Al Bell, GM, are there too.

Jimmy Lawson
Jesse Champion
Stan Granger
Gene Lockett
Margie Davis
Oliver Brewer
Al Bell

In ’82, Bob Bell purchases WJLD from the Johnston family. Gary Richardson leaves and returns in ’84 as Chief Engineer and part-time DJ and later afternoon drive DJ. Stan “The Man” Granger arrives after making his rounds at WENN, WBUL and WATV. Margie Davis spins gospel in ’84. In 1985, it’s one more time for Jimmy Lawson doing morning drive along with Kim Moore doing news.

State Senator Earl Hilliard buys WJLD in ‘85. Erik White, the son of Lewis White, is doing mornings after Jim Lawson is fired for commenting about a local bank that refuses to close on MLK day and was later robbed. The on air staff consists of Freddie Lewis 1AM-5AM playing gospel, Erik White 5AM-9AM, Oliver “OB The Master” Brewer, Gene Wyze, formerly of WENN, WBUL, and WATV, Margie Davis, Gene “Nassau” Lockett, Dick Lumpkin, and Harold Boggarty.

Dick Lumpkin
Gene Wyze
Erik White
Kim Moore
Freddie Lewis

In 1986, Gary Richardson becomes Station Manager while still serving as Chief Engineer. He gives away a Yugo to a lucky (?) listener!! Richardson, ever the innovator, develops a project to deliver WJLD’s AM format on FM with Cable FM 102.1. Approximately 1,000 homes were wired for the daily simulcast with jazz from 6pm to Midnight. Taking turns on the turntable are Kelley Jarrett, Jesse Champion, Jr., Harold Boggarty and Darryl Johnson. The effort lasted about a year.

Gary Richardson presents to a listener the keys to a Yugo.

1987 sees 30 year old Gary Richardson buy WJLD from Earl Hilliard. Curtis Bell begins his WJLD career after premiering as a 14 year old on “the Duane Jones Experience” on WAOK, Atlanta and later, on the Johnny Austin show at WJLD. “Tall Paul” is back for a short stint in ’88 and retires in ’89. WJLD adopts the “Heart and Soul” format delivered by satellite from Satellite Music Network, another first for the station. Bob “Bobby D” Friedman, a new account exec, suggests a talk show for Paul but Paul says no. Bobby tries the Doo-Wop Shop and 1950’s R&B Revue. Ain’t happenin’— Restarts “Sound Off” in June, 1989.

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