DAVE RODDY'S OLDIES AND GOODIES:
My favorite thing to do is writing and producing marketing and branding campaigns
using musical jingles to instill a USP (unique selling proposition). Pictures on
Birmingham Radio in the Sixties
I worked at WYDE for about ten months and WSGN for eleven exciting years. Many oldies
and goodies are stacked beside turntables in my memory; to cue them up again is
unbelievable. Most of the titled songs are time specific; I hope you can hear them
replay in your mind. I'll try not to over-modulate nor offer a millisecond of dead
air while you rock with Roddy one more time.
Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go
I came to WYDE from Charlotte in 1960 still in my teens. Two of my older high school
buddies were departing WYDE for our hometown of Memphis to take over a station. All
three of us played in a rock band while in school; I followed in their footsteps.
Chuck Browning later had on-air positions in Philadelphia, Detroit, New York, San
Francisco, San Diego and Los Angeles. Jay Cook, the PD responsible for my coming to
Birmingham, achieved a great on-air and managerial reputation at WFIL in Philadelphia,
KIIS in Los Angeles and became president of Gannett Radio. Jay and Chuck tried to
lure me away to larger markets many times, but I didn't want to have a rolling-stone
moniker. The Magic City suited me just fine.
Theme From 'A Summer Place'
WYDE's studios were on Hwy 31, atop Red Mountain beneath Vulcan. I worked with the
new program director, George Singer, who helped me select my new air name, Rockin
Roddy. Dave is my real name. (I had been given the name Ken Keene in Charlotte and
it didn't truly fit.) Other staff announcers were: Doug Layton, Harry Chapman, Sammy
Hale and Ken Tremelling who took my old NC name, Ken Keen. Overall, WYDE was making
gains with the 12 + and 18-34 demographics. The drive-through request window, where I
could see and talk with the car s occupants on intercom, played a major role in carving
While I was on the air, the general manager, Tom Whitley, happened in from a client
meeting at The Club. He expected potential sponsors to join him for a tour of the
station. His face turned red when he saw a roll of toilet paper sitting on top of his
announcer's control board; due to a bad cold, I needed the tissue close by. He tapped
hard on the sound proof window from the lobby and pointed in the direction of the toilet
paper. Initially, I thought he had seen my friend, Pete Schiro, who had jumped behind a
file cabinet; having visitors in the on-air studio was frowned upon. Petrified, it took
me a minute to figure out why he was so agitated. If there had not been witnesses in the
drive-through request lane, my angry boss would have probably thrown me out of the
building. I would have left to join my friends in Memphis had I been embarrassed any
further. It's funny now, but a lousy roll of toilet tissue came close to prematurely
ending my Magic City career. Next day, Mr. Whitley apologized and cooler heads
Pete Schiro, of Phillips High School, brought me up to speed with musical preferences
of Birmingham's youth. Through a mix of rhythm and blues, oldies and top-forty hits,
Pete helped me create the Panama City Beach-music formula that established my nightly
show with teens. The mixture placed less emphasis on teeny-bopper or country-flavored
numbers that were played at other times of the day on WYDE and prevalent on WSGN and
WVOK. In 1960, WSGN accurately considered their main competition from WVOK. While those
two stations went head to head, I was mounting a flanking attack and gaining strength
Save the Last Dance for Me
In those days, teens had to be home by midnight; so the last thirty minutes of my show
featured love songs, ending with Lover's Never Say Goodbye. An abbreviated version
of the Flamingos song became my signoff theme throughout my career as a deejay. The
market was alerted to the new audience trends when the summer ratings were published in
I created and organized the HALLOWYDE promotion, where all the jocks appeared in
Halloween costume while I broadcast in an open casket borrowed from a funeral home.
Ken Keen ran the control board while I introduced all the mailed-in requests from the
coffin on the front lawn. FYI, casket padding is totally useless for comfort. I was
disguised as a mummy wrapped in a hundred yards of gauze; Harry Chapman was a terrific
Dracula; George Singer was made up as his Granny character. Traffic on Hwy 31 was
tied up all the way down to Five Points South and to Homewood in the opposite direction.
Since the HALLOWYDE promotion created such a bottleneck, WYDE management had to promise
the infamous Bull Connor that we would never do that again; off-duty police officers
were hired to control traffic from then on.
What'd I Say
The oldies I played were called Dave's Diamond Disks, until I mispronounced Disks one
night, and never lived it down. Sometimes, just to mess with the button pushers in
cars, Neal Miller on WSGN, or Shelly the Playboy on WENN would play the same song
precisely as I did on WYDE, every beat synchronized.
In the spring of 1961, WYDE's owners announced they would begin broadcasting Birmingham
Barons baseball during MY SHOW!!! I could not bear the thought of being muzzled just
to ride gain on a boring baseball game. The distant owners failed to interpret the local
12 + and 18-24 audience trends. They were interested only in revenue from baseball
sponsorships. Additionally, to save the expense of broadcasting from the baseball park
or out of town games, they planned for an announcer to call the game using ticker-tape
while an engineer inserted pre-recorded sound effects! Old-fashioned ticker tape from
the ballpark was transmitted to a machine in a hidden studio that printed abbreviated
copy on a one-inch band of paper. The play-by-play announcer would read the ticker tape
as it came through and then ad-lib the details. The sound engineer was a half step
behind because he had to respond to the announcer. The audience depleting plans were
formulated at WYDE just as Tommy Charles and Ben McKinnon were preparing to leave WSGN
Hit the Road Jack
While sharing an after-hours pizza at Pasquali's in Five Points South, Ward McIntyre
told me that WSGN would need someone to take Tommy's place on staff. He arranged a
meeting with his boss, Ben McKinnon, Southern Broadcasting Vice President and General
Manager, at the WSGN studios on 7th Avenue South. While seated behind a big desk
smoking a cigar, Mr. McKinnon made me an offer I couldn t refuse , a calculating move
that bode well for all concerned.
Stand by Me
Even though WSGN's studio air-conditioning was inadequate and I had lost my drive-through
request window link to teens, I was elated to be on the air and unencumbered. Program
director, Bill Bolen, asked me to take responsibility for the station's top-twenty survey
and I began learning how to do the research. By the time baseball season began, the last
laugh belonged to the young listeners who stood by me in the move to 610. Although now
in Texas, Ben Mckinnon won another ratings triumph as WYDE ceased as an imminent threat
for the younger audience ratings in the spring of 1961!
WSGN's owners in Winston-Salem sent in a new GM to shake up the market; morning numbers
had declined since Tommy and Ben went to Houston. Charlie Brunt hired a new program
director to replace Bill Bolen, who had taken a position at WBMG-TV. (He later went
over to WBRC-TV.) Jim Clark went back to Tennessee. The new PD and morning man, The
Beard, told the deejays that he would be choosing our records from then on a real bummer.
I remember his real name, but I'll be nice. The Beard's regionally challenged delivery
didn't improve morning ratings, but the rest of the day, Neal Miller, Doug Layton, Duke
Rumore, Herb Steadman and I picked up the slack.
Duke of Earl
Duke ignored the official station play list and played his own stash from brother Joe's
record store. While riding gain on Dick Clark's syndicated production during two hours
of my five-hour nightly show, generic teeny-bopper songs were featured which ran contrary
to my beach-music inclination. That didn't last but one ratings period as management
realized that cookie-cutter radio didn't appeal to our sophisticated Birmingham listeners.
Once again I was asked to take over the record survey and expanded it to the top-forty,
still learning the ins and outs of professional record research. The Beard came off
morning drive after a while and hired Roger W. Morgan to pull his zany telephone bits.
Doug Layton went back to WYDE to do mornings.
You've Really Got a Hold on Me
In 1962, Tommy Charles returned and joined Doug Layton on WYDE for a year or so. They
clicked as a team and later signed WAQY on the air as junior partners with a car dealer.
Tommy had a love affair with fast cars. So did I, but Tommy could afford the Sophia
Loren and Grace Kelly models. At the time, mine were more like Minnie Pearl and Mama
High Heel Sneakers
Local high schools permitted sororities and fraternities to operate in those days. Each
organization competed annually to present the best formal dance. They hired me to be
master-of-ceremonies for events called lead-outs , many of them held at country clubs
or the Cloud Room. Competing fraternities and sororities would attend rival affairs and,
during a particularly well-attended show, a Ramsey High School fraternity asked my help
putting their program together. I used my position to contact the record companies for
artist appearances. After all, we had been among the first in the nation to play:
Lipstick Traces, You Better Move On, It's Too Soon to Know, and Love Twist.
Do You Love Me?
So I arranged for Benny Spellman, Arthur Alexander and Irma Thomas to come from New
Orleans and used Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers from Macon to backup the singers.
I am probably forgetting an act or two because it was truly an R&B extravaganza!
Halfway through the show, Ronnie Noojin and other members of the Kappa Theta Phi
fraternity were proudly saying how no rival could ever top their show. I was feeling
pretty good too, since they made me an honorary KOBE at the Roma Country Club that night.
I still have the engraved plaque dated June 6th, 1962.
Twistin the Night Away
That's not all. Johnny Jenkins, the outstanding guitarist and leader of the Pinetoppers,
asked if his singer could do a few solos. I agreed, but his singer would only be able to
do a couple of short songs due to time constraints. Not to take anything away from the
amassed talent, but Johnny Jenkins singer stole the show. The delirious crowd refused
to let him off the stage. What an unforgettable night it was. The fraternity earned
bragging rights for presenting the best lead-out in history; and everyone witnessed a
musical legend in the making. The next day, I called Jim Stewart, owner of Stax Records
in Memphis, and told him about Otis Redding's performance! These Arms of Mine and I've
Been Loving You Too Long were soon released!
The PD arranged for engineers Emmett Smith, Art Nesmith and Jack Herring, to hook up WSGN
to the Magic City's official Christmas tree lights. With our high-tech gear in place, the
red, green, blue and gold lights literally danced to WSGN dynamics! These were no
ordinary blinking lights. Each color of the spectrum pulsed to our signal in varying
degrees of intensity and tempo: boom- Ditty-BOOM! Seeing the city's public Christmas
tree rhythmically sparkle to 610 on the dial was spectacular for listeners who drove by.
Naturally, we stepped on toes in the process. The only aspect of the promotion that we
blew was allowing sinful rock and roll to desecrate a religious symbol. Other radio
stations and churches complained to authorities in such numbers that an official decree
was issued from city council: community seasonal displays could not be affiliated with
any broadcasting entity. Since the new rule took effect on January 1st, we didn't have to
unplug the lights until seasons end. While the exclusive audience connection infuriated
our competitors, religious organizations forgave us and chalked it up to youthful
exuberance. Ironically, the city council's resolution worked in our favor by eliminating
Bring it on Home to Me
Ben McKinnon returned as General Manager of WSGN in 1963. He cut The Beard and gave me
the title of music director. I shared my extensive oldies library with the other deejays
and we protected that collection like Fort Knox. After breaking several nationwide hits,
I earned my way into the Bill Gavin network of qualified sources sharing advance
information; important connections throughout the record business were cultivated. I got
word to distributors in the nicest tone possible: if a new release was heard first on
another station in our market, they could forget about it making WSGN's play list;
Our Day Will Come
Mr. McKinnon, in one of the most exceptional moves ever made in Birmingham radio, hired
Jim Taber away from WABB in Mobile, where he had a reputation as a programming mastermind.
We lost Miss Midnight when she decided to reset her inner clock and take her warm, sultry
voice to a day job. About the time Neal Miller left to do the Sgt. Jack kids television
show, Duke Rumore departed for WYDE's new countrypolitan format. Walt Williams, Jim
Kell and Glen Powers then hopped on the Taber train. Jim Taber implemented an all new
WSGN positioning strategy; deejays would now be called good-guys. He had a unique smiley
face logo designed for bumper stickers and tee-shirts and created a jingle package of hip
station ID's from PAMS in Dallas. A distinctive echo was added to our signal and the
on-air product became even more polished 24/7. The all new WSGN really started cookin'
in the early part of 1963.
The Way You Do the Things You Do
I auditioned hundreds of records that came in every week as music director. As a former
saxophone-playing rock musician, the task was right up my alley. I had an especially
good ear for spotting hits and a passion for beating the competition with new releases.
Several times, Billboard Magazine named WSGN the nation's number one top-forty radio
station for midsize markets. Stations in major markets closely monitored our play-lists.
Our record survey was a weekly collector's item and the supreme local authority. Sales
at local record stores and called-in requests provided only partial rationale for
rankings; those numbers were always behind the curve at WSGN. Our secret was to be far
out front with our record selections, which appealed to our savvy core demographic. The
Pick Hits were obvious winners. We went out on a limb with the Bomb of the Week,
always novel or unique sounding songs. Blue Moon, and Wooly-Bully pop into mind.
I Can't Help Myself
Tommy and Doug hired Woody Windham, a popular beach-music deejay from South Carolina, to
help WAQY compete with us for Birmingham's youth. After a couple of ratings books, Woody
got homesick. I could not have dislodged him from his lofty perch in SC either. Woody
and I have become friends since I moved to his hometown of Columbia, SC. He is still on
the air and having great success.
We buried Digger O Dell six feet deep in a coffin with a hundred deadly snakes and drew
throngs to Midfield Shopping Center to view the oddity through a glass porthole. While I
was on the air during a remote, Digger's attendant stuck a huge rattlesnake in my face
and I was supposed to act cool. I d had experience ad-libbing through distractions when
scripts were either snatched mid-sentence or set on fire. The other announcers and I
pulled juvenile pranks like that occasionally; causing others to totally lose it on the
air was fun until we experienced pay back. However, coming within inches of the venomous
fangs of a rattlesnake really rattled me!
I Want to Hold Your Hand
Station remotes gave the good guys opportunities to meet listeners in person, especially
during the Alabama State Fair when our broadcast tents were surrounded by adoring
A golfing buddy and deejay at WYDE got a new position at WAPE in Jacksonville. Ron Wayne
(Hale) built his weekly record hop at the Norwood Armory into a nice little extra income
source and turned it over to me upon his departure. Thanks again, Ron.
With help from Buddy Buie, songwriter/producer/road manager and his connections with
several recording stars, my enterprise grew rapidly. He introduced me to the James Gang,
Candymen and Classics IV, whose members would later form Atlanta Rhythm Section, and many
single acts, including Bobby Goldsboro, Roy Orbison, Mac Davis, Tommy Roe and Billy Joe
Royal. Buddy Buie was inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and continues to turn
out big time material. Thanks again, Buddy.
See the Funny Little Clown
The first time Bobby Goldsboro ever pulled his cricket imitation on me was on the air
during a live interview; its origin impossible to perceive. How he created the realistic
sound in his mouth, even while talking, remains a mystery. I would have sworn the studio
had been inundated by the noisy creatures. Speaking of mouthing sound effects; Roy Orbison
practiced his throaty growl while visiting on air with me prior to his recording I Gotta
Woman and Pretty Woman. He appreciated my keep it s-c-r-r-r-r-roungy intonation.
Roy's guttural inflection was later reproduced by David Lee Roth in Van Halen's version of
Pretty Woman. Nobody could ever imitate Roy's vocal range, however.
Dancing in the Streets
I enjoyed the benefits of my strong relationship with teens as a concert promoter, thanks
to the approval and cooperation of WSGN management. My youth connection was a win-win
situation. The little inherited hop became the hottest place to go on a Birmingham
Saturday night. When Georgia Pines was popular, the James Gang drew a huge crowd. It
was horrifying when hundreds more people than we had room for pushed and shoved to get in.
Fortunately, the kids listened to Sgt. Bob Emerson and my pleas and lined up. For Bob and
me, it was a wake up call for much tighter crowd control. The residents complained about
the traffic and disruption, but my hop had outgrown that location anyway, and we moved to
a larger facility.
Hang on Sloopy
There was talk of a great new band from the Carolinas that performed at the Old Hickory
Beach Club in Panama City during AEA, 1964. One after the other, in-the-know teens
encouraged me to bring the Swingin Medallions to Birmingham. Several local fraternities
and sororities had failed to hire the group due to a contractual stipulation which
permitted the Medallions only one day off a week.
I Get Around
Undaunted, I trekked to Panama City to see what the buzz was all about. My young talent
scouts were right on the money! The Swingin Medallions big horn sound and high-energy
choreography absolutely blew me away. Their thunder and lightning would be unleashed in
Birmingham if we could find a way to overcome their contractual obligation. This was a
pretty tall order since the group's only day off was Monday the worst day of the week to
promote a hop, right?
Maybe not that branding light-bulb went off again! We'd call it Medallion Monday and
do it every Monday, all summer long! Based on WSGN's popularity and the group's
following, the Medallions agreed to come to Birmingham on a joint-venture. We all took
a chance on that day of the week; but the odds were pretty good. We started out at the
Hollywood Country Club in Homewood for an afternoon pool party you know, throw a little
sand around and try to create the beach atmosphere.
Once again, residents complained about loud music and crowds, so we had to move to
another venue. I tried to rent the Cloud Room in the Woodlawn/East Lake area, but they
wanted too much money. As it turned out, we really didn't need their swimming pool; so
we moved where the neighbors wouldn t complain: the Airport National Guard Armory.
Nighttime was the right time for Medallion Monday! My hops were primarily stand-up
concerts; a few couples danced, but most people just crowded around the stage, swaying
to the beat, hands in the air, singing along: Hey-hey-aye-baby I wanna know-oh-oh if
you'll be my girl...
Money (That's What I Want)
When they came to Birmingham, the young, talented, hard-working guys from South Carolina
earned more in one day than they made all week in Panama City. They loved the Magic City
and it loved them. Weekly turnouts grew such that we moved to the new Oporto Armory,
doubling our capacity and parking. Sgt. Bob Emerson remained as my dependable manager.
Oh, Pretty Woman
There were many times that we maxed out Oporto's crowd limits. By law, when limits were
met, people in line entered only when someone exited, causing future lines to form
several hours before shows began. In addition to crowd control, we learned that crowds
are magnetic. As a whole, crowd behavior was commendable. If you were a member of our
audience, I applaud you. I'm sure you d agree the exemplary behavior would not be
Someone at a television station had the bright idea to play a football game between radio
and television staffs to raise interest in the High School Football Jamboree at Legion
Field. Coach Bobby Bowden at Samford helped with equipment. The future hall of fame coach
loaned us clean uniforms and pads for the Radio vs. TV football challenge. The helmets
were a little rank, but effective. When the radio guys held practice, we learned that
none of us had ever played on a team, other than sandlots; but we were young and cocky
enough to proceed. We thought we'd defeat those pusillanimous TV guys with one hand tied
behind our back. Little did we know.
You Really Got Me
On game night, each team traded a couple of series without success probably looking
sandlot from the stands. I was on the receiving end of a high-spiraling, fourth-down
kick and didn't signal fair catch, though I saw three defenders raging toward me. Time
was running out and I wanted to score and beat these guys. At 150 lbs, how many chances
would I ever have to be a football hero? It was now or never. As the ball came down in
my hands, three simultaneous hits echoed through the stands! A sympathetic oooohhh from
the crowd reached my ringing ears as I was being drilled into the ground! That was the
most exciting play of the game me getting creamed but at least I held on to the ball and
consciousness. TV finally scored to edge Radio they d brought ringers, really they had.
You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling
After getting a few pointers from the Allison Brothers in Hueytown, I won the Birmingham
Raceway Demolition Derby against all the other good-guys and WSGN sales and news
departments. It was a lot more fun to be the cream-er instead of the cream-ee. Mr.
McKinnon was the first one to have his car demolished; we'd instinctively ganged up on
the big boss.
Like a Rolling Stone
Jim Taber brought in Dick Kent to do the morning show when Roger W. Morgan abruptly left.
Dick wasn t there long when an opportunity opened for him in Nashville. Taber hired Steve
Norris to do morning drive. Steve's quick wit made an immediate audience connection and
ratings skyrocketed. Tall and slim Steve Norris grew his hair long at the start of the
British invasion and was labeled, The Mop.
Up on the Roof
Soon after the Beatles hit America, we moved our studios to the top two floors of the
tallest building in town. As we signed off the air in the Southern Life & Health
building on 7th Ave. South, we drove in procession with flags waving, headlights flashing
and horns sounding. Two police motorcycle sirens blared, front and rear. Our newsmen,
Elvin Stanton and Pete Taylor, reported the ceremony Chet and David style on the
short trek downtown and up twenty-seven floors. Jim Taber broke in the mike in our
fabulous new state-of-the-art studios. The all new WSGN was movin
on up to the penthouse of the City Federal Building.
Ticket to Ride
Taber called his afternoon drive show Bumper to Bumper and alternately beeped two horns
permanently attached to the arm of the studio microphone when he said it. Under the
threat of being fired, Taber's mnemonic horns were off limits to everyone else. Jim
always chuckled good-naturedly when he stated the hands-off rule, but nobody ever dared
to challenge him. While WAQY and other stations were publicly banning the Beatles, we
played two or three of their songs every hour. The good guys were on top of the world and
having a ball, which gave us an idea.
In the Midnight Hour
We brainstormed during announcer's meetings. It was in one of these meetings that I
named the WSG-N-tenna ball promotion! Creating branding or positioning strategies
became my professional forte, and I'll never forget that one. Soon, there was a sea of
bright orange balls topping antennas on every thoroughfare. Several times a day, we'd
announce the license tag number of a car spotted with a WSG-N-tenna ball; and if that
listener called in right away, they won a prize. Stations all over the country copied
us. Local stations were demoralized. It was grand to witness all the cars proclaiming
the drivers favorite radio station.
(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
In 1965, Ben McKinnon sold Coca-Cola the Win Something Wild statewide contest. This
was the largest radio promotion Coca-Cola had ever done in Alabama; WSGN was the flagship
station. The month-long prize contest offered winners a new Ford Mustang and ten Honda
motorcycles and was promoted on fifty radio stations. A red silk jacket and white
trousers were custom tailored for Mr. Coca-Cola's statewide excursion in the red Mustang.
A professional motorcycle racer, Red Ryder, rode the red Honda decked out in a white
leather jumpsuit, red boots and helmet. To win the car or bike, you had to listen to my
daily live updates and calculate the number of miles we had covered; then enter your
total estimate on an entry form on the product package. As guest deejay, I did local
radio shows along the way and got to meet legendary coaches Bear Bryant and Shug Jordan,
Governor Wallace and hundreds of listeners while traveling over 3,200 miles in America's
coolest car. I wish I had one
of those 65 classics today, don t you?
I made three appearances on Dick Clark's American Bandstand as local favorite deejay;
co-promoted Clark's Where the Action Is concerts with WSGN starring Paul Revere and
the Raiders, Neil Diamond, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Davey Jones and the
Monkees and a whole host of one-hit-wonders.
As a disc jockey, I had the opportunity to talk with scores of recording artists,
including Elvis and The Beatles. I particularly enjoyed being friends with the Swingin
Medallions, The Candymen, The Tams, Roy Orbison, Bobby Goldsboro and several local
artists, including: the Ramblers, Bob Cain and Dale Serrano. I was proud to be first
in the nation to play a new record for which WSGN received national recognition. Three
that stand out are: Ode to Billy Joe, Spooky, and, of course, Double Shot.
What Kind of Fool Do You Think I Am
One of the keys to WSGN's long-term programming success was balancing a heavy dose of
oldies in rotation with new hits. Although the classic records played were always less
than ten years old, the majority were less than five. Some programming analysts would
credit WSGN as the nation's first oldies station. My daily Classic Hour, from 6:00 to
7:00 PM, was exclusively oldies and always achieved exceptional ratings.
Taber moved me to 3-7 PM afternoon drive in 1965 which turned out to be a natural fit.
The move freed time for Jim's programming responsibilities and Skylane traffic reports
from his new airplane, the Cessna 610. When Jim bought a radio station and moved to El
Paso, Walt Williams succeeded him as program director and built audience ratings to even
Under legendary general manager, Ben Mckinnon, and brilliant programming expertise of
Jim Taber and Walt Williams, audience surveys certified that over half of the 18-49
demographics listened to WSGN. Virtually everyone between the ages of 12 and 24 tuned
in as well. This was validated by the WSGN High School Spirit Contest where top
contenders collected and turned in hundreds of thousands of bottle caps. I had a
reporter at every high school do live call-ins relating their weekly activities. Elvin
Stanton left to become Governor Wallace's press secretary and Dave Perry took over as
news director. Our news department had no equal when it came to going after a story
and scooping the competition.
The Tracks of My Tears
I guess this chronicle would not be complete if I didn't mention my 1968 record. While
auditioning new releases, I heard a hokey country narration. Even though I thought the
guy made a poor presentation, I heard promise in the lyrics and called both Steve Norris,
and recording studio owner-engineer, Ed Boutwell, for advice. Steve had experience
arranging and producing for local artists in his spare time. I asked Steve and Ed what
they thought about me covering this particular narrative in the top-forty vein. Even
though Steve had to be on the air the next morning, we spent the night in the studio
recording my narrative with acoustic guitar, electric bass and drums. Over the next few
days, Ed and Steve multi-tracked the strings, trumpet and vocals and mixed the master.
One week later, The Last Goodbye was released nationally on Warner
We'd just finished dinner and I walked into the den, turned on the TV when
she walked in and kissed me on the cheek, like a million times before She said, I know
it's late, but my shopping is a little behind and I am going down to the grocery store.
She looked just like an angel standing there. Okay, it was hokey, too, but it made
number one in Birmingham. The record possibly could have done better nationally if
Bobby Goldsboro hadn't come out with Honey shortly after my record's release. Bobby
didn't need to apologize, but offered to find me something else to record.
I had the pleasure of working with a number of WSGN on-air professionals: Miss Midnight
(June West-Wetzel), Tommy Charles, Ward McIntyre, Bill Bolen, Doug Layton, Duke Rumore,
Neal Miller, Jim Clark, Herb Steadman, Jim Taber, Walt Williams, Glen Powers, Jim Kell,
Dick Kent, Steve Norris, Ed Dean, Don Martin, Joey Roberts, Mike Edwards, Russ Knight,
Elvin Stanton, Pete Taylor, Dave Perry, Larry Adcock, Jim Cunningham and Joe Alloia.
During the sixties, we kicked radio butt and had a great time. Many former co-workers
are deceased, yet they live on in treasured memories.
Reach Out, I'll Be There
When Double Shot and What Kind of Fool were at their number one positions on the
record charts, we had to do two separate shows a night in order to accommodate the fans
that came for Medallion Mondays and Tams Tuesdays Summertime at the Oporto Armory was
a magical time.
I've Been Hurt
Sadly, on Tams Tuesday, August 13th, 1968, the Oporto Armory would be the scene for a
personal tragedy. While helping a young man free his car from the mud in an adjacent
lot, I fell into a deep storm drain and broke my back. By the time I returned to work,
the psychedelic rock days had taken over. Don Martin took my place on the air and Steve
Norris became music director. During my eighteen-month convalescence, my great boss and
mentor, Ben McKinnon, made corporate appeals on my behalf which were approved by John G.
Johnson, president, and Bob Jones, radio division supervisor. Thankfully, Southern
Broadcasting covered my disability insurance deficits and retirement contributions.
Although the Jaguar and house on the hill didn't survive the aftermath, in a few years
this Humpty-Dumpty was back together again, thanks to a caring wife, family, friends
and orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Richard Cord.
Bobby Goldsboro called to tell me about a new song he had written for which he had high
expectations. He had not heard about my incapacity. With Pen in Hand was individually
recorded by Vicki Carr and Brook Benton. Lucky for Bobby, I couldn t have done his song
justice; my only vocal experience had been singing bass in the First Methodist chancel
Papa's Got a Brand New Bag
Although I considered going with the flow, the new style of music had lost appeal. Bob
Dylan's lyrics, times they are a-changing defined the era with a defiant twang. In
1970, Mr. McKinnon offered me a grown-up job as a WSGN account executive. I joined Bill
Floyd, Chuck Ashworth and Norm Zauchin in the sales department under sales manager,
Warren Merrin. This new position made it possible to return to work while continuing
physical rehabilitation. When Don Martin (Moseley) and I produced a jingle for a client,
the passion was renewed. Now, I could happily move from my glory days as a WSGN good
guy to an equally fascinating and satisfying career in advertising. I'll never forget
that first production: Let Shaia's of Homewood Bring Out the Man in You.
Light My Fire
Since leaving Birmingham in 1972, I've remained in the advertising, music and syndication
businesses based in Columbia, SC. I stay in contact with Don Martin (Moseley). He and
his lovely wife, Betty, own and successfully operate the Sound of Birmingham recording
studios on 5th Avenue South. Don is a gifted vocalist and A& R man. He and I have created
many advertising jingles that have helped businesses become household names in local,
regional and national markets and we ve had tons of fun in the process. My family and I
have been blessed from the training and experience gained in the Magic City. Thanks again,
Mr. McKinnon and Southern Broadcasting, Jim, Walt, Warren, Don, and all the Good Guys.
Born to be Wild
A client and I participated in a golf outing sponsored by Time Warner Cable TV. My
all-time sports hero, Joe Willie Namath, was here in South Carolina to promote ESPN
Classics. I was blown away when Joe recognized me and said that he used to rock with
Roddy on headphones in the locker room prior to Alabama football games at Legion Field.
My client enjoys repeating the story.
I Heard it Through the Grapevine
In early 2006, I was guest on the XM broadcast of 1960's-era WSGN where the XM deejay
recreated the station's sound with original PAMS jingles, and an actual good-guy air-check
(Dick Kent) with sponsor commercials. It was really quite remarkable how good WSGN sounded
in comparison with today's cookie-cutter radio. It must have been the same great audition
tape that landed Dick the job in Nashville. Dick's air check included many station promos
by Jim Taber and Walt Williams and a commercial for a joint Irma Thomas and Tams
appearance I was promoting using the Good Guys on the Go-Go jingle. It also featured a
Pete Taylor newscast with his impeccable diction and authority. I helped the XM deejay
feature songs that were popular in Birmingham and it was surprising how many I recalled.
I heard from Dick Kent, Glen Powers, Joey Roberts, Don Martin, Dave Perry and many other
people as a result of the nostalgic broadcast.
Whenever I see the still fabulous Swingin Medallions, I tease original band members about
not having to work at a real job for forty years all because of a crazy hit record! What
I really mean is way to go guys! I say to the timeless Tams, let's continue to Be Young,
Be Foolish and Be Happy! Read about the Swingin Medallions and The Tams and many other
popular southern bands of the sixties in Greg Haynes historical book: The Hey-Baby Days
of Beach Music. Here is the link: heybabydays.com/book.htm.
The Best of My Love
I hope this has been as enjoyable to read as it was to recall. Now that I think about it,
I never had the chance to offer you a proper farewell. I say it with heartfelt thanks
for the memories: Keep it (smootch, pop) sc-r-r-r-r-r-roungy, rascal cause
Lovers Never Say Goodbye...
Dave Ruddle AKA Dave Roddy
WYDE: 1960 to Spring, 1961
WSGN: 1961 to 1972
Penthouse, City Federal Bldg.
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