BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS
DEDICATED TO THE COLLECTING OF MUSIC, ITS PRESERVATION, AND LASTING FRIENDSHIP
MONTHLY MEETING THIS SUNDAY, AUGUST 6th 2017
2:00 PM HOMEWOOD LIBRARY – 1721 OXMOOR ROAD 35209
NEXT MEETING SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 10th, 2017 THE SECOND SUNDAY
THIS MONTH’S MEETING
IN LAST MONTH’S NEWSLETTER IT WAS STATED THAT THE AUGUST MEETING WOULD BE THE SECOND SUNDAY – WRONG!! WE WILL BE MEETING THIS SUNDAY, THE FIRST SUNDAY DUE TO A LIBRARY CONFLICT ON THE SECOND. THANKS.
Our record show is less than 2 weeks away so our August meeting will be devoted to making all final preparations for the show. See the schedule below. We will also take time to give mention our 2017 HOF inductees – Joe Rumore and Tall Paul White. What a great pair of radio personalities they were. It was fun growing up in this area and having people such as these to play music, make announcements, have contests, and just be a friend over the air waves.
BRC’S 33RD ANNUAL RECORD AND CD SHOW
BRC will be presenting the 2nd largest record show in the US during the weekend of August 18-20. Over 125 tables of vinyl, CD’s, and memorabilia will fill the Gardendale Civic Center. For the first time ever we will be open to the public on Friday this year.
We will need lots of volunteers to make the show run as smoothly as possible so be sure to pitch in and help somewhere – set-up, front table, clean-up, runner, whatever is needed I hope you can help out.
Here is the schedule for the weekend. Information is also available on the BRC website, birminghamrecord.com
- Thursday – we will begin setting up the tables at 3:00. Be there if you can.
- Friday – 7:00-11:00 dealer load-in. 11:00-4:00 BRC members and 2017 dealers only. Not a member? Join during this time for our early-bird for $25 (1 year) or $50 (lifetime). 4:00-9:00 open to the public.
- Saturday, August 19. Doors open from 9:00-5:00.
- Sunday, August 20. Doors open from 10:00-4:00. After the show closes we will need volunteers to help take down the tables and clean up.
One thing I would like to ask those of you on facebook is to be sure to put the record show info on your page so all your ‘friends’ will see it and hopefully the message will continue to be spread on social media. Facebook, websites, and other social medias such as this has become the best way to make sure all ages of people hear about events and happenings such as ours. Please help out. Thanks.
BIRMINGHAM RECORD COLLECTORS MUSIC HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017
(thanks to Dan Cole for putting this bio together)
Joe Rumore knew at an early age that he was destined to a career in radio. Born on July 17, 1920, Joe came into the world “making a lot of noise.” At age 7 Joe made his radio debut on Station WJOE, as Master Rumore. Young Joe rigged up a make-believe microphone by nailing a tea strainer to a cigar box. With an ancient Victrola and a pair of ear muffs doing duty as turntable and earphones, Master Rumore broadcast over Station WJOE for 3 years before he got his first piece of mail. It just so happened that Master Rumore had written the letter, a letter of lavish praise and caustic criticism, to himself. Master Rumore acknowledged the letter on the air at Station WJOE and promised to do better in the future. Joe kept the letter in his mind throughout his school days in Birmingham, with every subject Joe studied had to answer the stern question,”How will this help me in radio?” Joe graduated high school in 1941, and studied music, learning 4 complete operas.
Joe Rumore’s “real” radio career began right after high school in 1941. Joe’s first radio employment was with WJLD in Bessemer, AL, for $12 a week with friend Leland Childs. Joe ran the gamut of jobs there from writing commercials to producing his own shows.
One year later Joe literally flew to WSFA, in Montgomery for three times his salary at WJLD. Joe stayed at WSFA for three months before returning home to roost in Birmingham. On April 18, 1943, Joe Rumore made the ride to Alabama’s favorite station at the time, WAPI, “to bring the country to the city folks.” Joe was dubbed “Hill Billy Rose” as he hosted the popular Saturday night show, “Round-Up”. In the early days of his stint at WAPI Joe was at odds with the FCC, for talking directly to persons in his live studio audience(yes, a live studio audience!). Normally in these early days of radio, getting heat from the FCC would mean a death note to a radio career. Not so for Joe. He continued to talk to his audience “confidentially”, and Joe’s popularity continued to grow.
His “Round-Up” program was opposite Don McNeills “Breakfast Club”, considered by most as the most popular show in Birmingham at the time. Joe’s ratings were equal to McNeill’s ratings, if not better in some instances. Joe started to announce other programs during his stint at WAPI. In addition to “Round-Up Time”,Joe announced “Yawn Patrol”, dubbed “WAPI’s Early Morning Eye Opener”. “Yawn Patrol” quickly became one of the most popular morning shows in Alabama, with both the listening audience, and with sponsors. Joe’s list of sponsors included the Alabama Farmer’s Store, Sunway Vitamins, Peruna, Kolor Bak, And Mother’s Best Flour and Feeds. An example of Joe’s popularity would be the the large chain reaction of fan mail every time Joe mentioned the name of a patient that was shut-in, and asking the audience to write in. While at WAPI Joe regularly received more than 2500 pieces of fan mail each week, attesting to Joe’s enourmous popularity.
In 1948, Joe made 2 major changes in his life: He wed Angie in April, and in October Joe Rumore moved to WVOK, where he would stay until his retirement, in 1982.
Young Joe Rumore had developed a following, both in listeners and in sponsors. Joe had a unique situation with WVOK dealing with both his sponsors and his listeners, both situations intertwined into each other. In dealing with his sponsors, Joe would buy time from the station, and then sold the time directly to his sponsors. This plan worked perfectly. Making this plan work was the fact that Joe had three shows a day. Joe would start the day at 9 A.M. with an hour long show for the housewives who listened. Joe would then have a show from 12 to 12:30 P.M. for the farmers at lunchtime. Not to leave out the after-school crowd, Joe had a program from 3 to 4:15 P.M. On top of this busy schedule, Joe also had a weekly inspirational music program on Sunday mornings. All of these shows were done live. This is unheard of in today’s radio market, both the workload and the live work. Within the first five years at WVOK, Joe had up to 33 sponsors, which included Alabama Flour Mills, located in Decatur, Golden Eagle Syrup, located in Fayette, Sessions Peanut Oil, located in Enterprise, Bell Meade Crackers, and Philco products. Also added within the first couple of years was the second 50,000 watt radio station, WBAM in Montgomery, which was also owned by the same people that owned WVOK, which gave Joe complete statewide and most of the Southeast coverage.
Joe was possibly the only announcer in the state to have a studio audience. The studio audience was treated to products brought by the many sponsors of Joe Rumore. Only Joe and his sponsors knew how much of these products were given away. Joe also had his specific fill-in when he was on vacation; his brother Duke Rumore. Filling in for Joe got Duke a following of his own, and Duke was offered his own show on WSGN, and thus started a brother dominated radio market in Birmingham never seen before or since. In 1954, Joe started broadcasting from his home studio, becoming one of the first to do so. Joe also opened Rumore’s Record Rack in the mid ‘50’s, a staple that was a big part of Birmingham for years to come.
As the other stations in Birmingham would change formats, line-ups, as stations would come and go in the 1950’s ‘60’s and ‘70’s, one thing stayed constant and steady: Joe Rumore. Joe Rumore was a solid number one in his timeslot throughout his career.
Joe Rumore made his last broadcast on January 29, 1982. Just as Joe started his radio career, he finished it on top. Joe Rumore was an innovator and a pioneer in Birmingham radio. Joe’s influence is felt to this day. There are still generations of families that still answer the phone “Joe Rumore.” Joe Rumore passed away December 20, 1993. His memory and influence lives on. There will never be another Joe Rumore.
PAUL ‘TALL PAUL’ WHITE
(thanks to Bob Friedman for putting this bio together)
“In other words, with all the influence the disc jockeys have in the Black community, speaking to thousands of Black teenagers, youngsters and parents during the course of a day, hundreds and thousands of hours of days nationwide, they ought to be able to say something useful, and not just ‘snap your fingers.’” (Paul “Tall Paul” White, Birmingham Times interview with Peter Moss, April 19, 1979)
Paul White was born to Minnie and Elrod White in Hillman Hospital in Birmingham on August 16, 1936. Minnie and Elrod lived in the Titusville neighborhood of Birmingham and Paul was the fourth of Minnie’s five children. Where Paul “grew up” was another story. Minnie was a traveling evangelist and from the age of four to the age of 13, Paul was a child preacher traveling with his mother, preaching in the AOH churches of Louisiana, Virginia, West Virginia and Arkansas, returning to Birmingham and the Mason City AOH church in 1947. He lived with his older sister Dorothy McGinest and her family in Mason City and attended Spaulding Elementary School. Some of the parishioners from Mason City AOH remember Paul as trying to lecture other youngsters in “the way that they should go.”
“My momma told me an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So the youth don’t have jobs. We need to start with the youth…they say, before I turn to crime, I’ll go to the army. Get them off the street corners and integrate them into society…until we do that, we’re going to have a problem.”
Paul takes up boxing as a sport and reaches his 6’5” height in time to have his sister enlist him early in the army. In 1954, he travels to Milwaukee, enlists and serves three years in Germany. Returning to the states in 1957, he decides to finish his 9th grade studies at Rosedale High School where he becomes active in the student body at age 20 and indicates his interest in radio broadcasting. Rosedale High School had a practice of readmitting returning servicemen to complete their studies.
By 1958, Paul left Birmingham again, this time seeking out a degree in broadcasting in Chicago, as remembered by his nephew and namesake Paul McGinest, now residing in San Diego. When Paul returns to Alabama, it’s to WEUP in Huntsville, working as news director for Leroy Garrett, the first African American to own a radio station in Alabama. While their, he elevates his prowess as a sportscaster, not only broadcasting Alabama A&M football games locally, but setting up studios at historically Black colleges around the south to accomplish away-game broadcasts. Huntsville historian and friend of Paul’s, Bobby Hayden remembers there being some interest in recruiting Paul by the NFL. At WEUP, Paul crosses paths with other announcers who would pursue their career with Garrett, namely, Andrew “Sugar Daddy” Dawkins (formerly with WBCO, Bessemer), Sonrose Rutledge, Shelley “the Black Pope” Pope and Jimmy Lawson.
His reputation drew the attention of Joe Lackey and Erskine Faush, manager and gospel announcer at WENN radio, on 5th Avenue North, and of the friends of Miles College, who wanted Paul to broadcast Miles football. They were able to recruit Paul back to Birmingham. His first job at WENN was broadcasting news and sports (his “forte” – as he put it) on Shelley “the Playboy” Stewart’s morning drive show. That was 1961. By the end of 1962, Stewart had left WENN for WJLD and White was given the morning drive slot and took on the moniker, “Tall Paul (y’all).” And from there on, nothing in his life or Birmingham’s would be the same.
Much has been written about the history of Birmingham’s civil rights struggles, from Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, begun in 1956 to the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and their best known leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Suffice it to say, Paul White’s move to WENN radio on Fifth Avenue north was not simply a son of Birmingham returning home. Paul had become in his short 26 years, a citizen of the world. His passion for the youth and his objection to segregationist and white supremacist leadership in Birmingham would have to become evident.
Paul began broadcasting Miles College games in 1962, spending a good deal of time on campus and getting friendly with Miles College President Lucius Pitts and student leaders who had organized a boycott of downtown Birmingham businesses to underscore discriminatory hiring and access practices. One of those student leaders, (now Reverend) Frank Dukes (who was actually 3 years older than Paul), explained that Paul had “rendered an invaluable service to Miles College and the City of Birmingham by getting the word out.” On May10, 1963, downtown businessmen met at the A.G. Gaston Motel on 5th Avenue North to work out an end to the downtown boycott. Two days later a bomb went off at the Motel. Its target, Dr. King, had already left for Atlanta. The blast blew out the window at WENN, a half block away, and Paul left his apartment across from the motel and leaped into the station and began broadcasting. The police arrested him, charged him with attempted burglary and when manager Joe Lackey bailed him out, they reduced his charge to malicious mischief. The police did not like Paul.
But Paul was loved by the community. “…you can really gauge what’s going on in the Black community by watching the people who I call the have-nots.” Ringing his bell week day mornings, he’d run the high school check-in and remind students of downtown demonstrations his own way, “there’s a picnic today, don’t worry about your lunch,” . On one occasion he hid students from Ulman High School under his desk who were being chased by the police. He spun at after-school sock hops, and kept an eye out on the downtown community. WENN radio was threatened numerous times. As Paul recalled, “ I said to myself, if the station blows up, then I’ll blow up with it but I wasn’t going to be intimidated by threats.”
As the demonstrations grew, and with it, resistance by the old regime, a major event took place that rocked the world. On September 15, 1963, the KKK bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church, killed four little girls attending Sunday school and wounded a fifth. Paul was the only radio announcer interviewed by the FBI (Oct.25, 1963). He recalled seeing cars in the area driven by white men and described them in detail, including their license plate numbers. At this time he was living across the street from the church. And although he was out of town during the day of the bombing, his descriptions pointed to Thomas Blanton, who received a guilty verdict some 40 years later for the crime. But Paul went further. In his FBI testimony, Paul felt arrests made by the Alabama State Police “were made to throw the FBI off the track, that they were “a sham to sidetrack the FBI.”
Paul resigned from WENN radio that November for a short stint at WAOK Atlanta as Sports Director and returned to Birmingham the following year. John McClendon of Jackson, MS. owned both stations and it was not unusual for announcers to move around his properties. Paul continued as a music, news and sports announcer throughout the 1960’s. He was also active nationally with the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers (NARTA) and served four terms as their National Vice President. In 1967, Dr. King addressed NARTA and thanked Paul for his service to the 1963 Birmingham children’s demonstrations. With all his notoriety, Paul would still take the time to introduce local fledgling performers like child star Fletcher “Sputnick” Shepard to Jackie Wilson and James Brown.
Regardless of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights bills being passed in 1964 and ‘65, change was slow to come in the south. Paul saw a need. Black folks had clubs but not an outdoor venue where they, their families and children could relax. Paul founded Tall Paul Enterprises in 1970 and created Fun Land on land formerly held by the Sand Ridge Country Club, described as a Negro country club in the early 1960’s. Fun Land had picnic areas for families, horses for the children and a night club in the evening. Many Birmingham baby boomers remember Fun Land and the musicians that played there, included Ona Watson, the Commodores and Earl Williams.
Paul’s nephew Paul McGinest remembers that Paul’s prowess as a sportscaster won him the friendship of Charles O. Finley, owner of the Oakland Athletics, who hosted Paul on several occasions between 1972 and ’75.
In 1976, the WENN radio properties were sold to Birmingham businessman A.G. Gaston. They had a strong line-up but A.G. had the idea that the station should be all Black staffed. He replaced Joe Lackey with Larry Hayes, and Paul took off his headphones and walked as did most of the staff. In short order, that crew created WATV 900 which had been an easy listening station, and turned it soul. They broadcast out of the Jefferson Hotel downtown on 2nd Avenue North, and soon thereafter, found a home at their current location on Five Points West Ensley Avenue.
“By watching politicians, you can pull the cover off of them. Some people stand for nothing and fall for anything. My plan is to stay on the air and have my ear close to the ground and to make a contribution…it doesn’t have to be a disco every time.”
In 1979, Paul was successfully wooed by WJLD 1400 and stayed there until 1985. He organized community base ball teams during his stay at WJLD, and returned to WJLD again in 1988 for a short stint. But his poor health was getting the better of him and he left in 1989 and went back into the ministry from whence he had come some 60 years past. His kidneys were failing and Paul went on dialysis in 1997 and stayed on it for four years. Last interviewed by Shelley Stewart on WATV in 1999, Paul reviewed their histories together, and made sure to thank all the people and staff at the VA hospital for their kindness. He closed with, “Life is hard by the yard and a cinch by the inch.” Paul passed on August 19, 2001.
HEY! HAVE YOU HEARD THIS ONE?
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU HEARD THIS HIT?
1966 – # 28 Pop / #36 R&B