Brian Ward, Oral History


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Brian Ward, Oral History


Interviewed on the air at WJLD. Author, “Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South” (University Press of Florida, 2004).


Brian Ward
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


August 7, 2004


Jeff Hayes
Emily Bibb







Oral History Item Type Metadata


Bob Friedman


Brian Ward


Transcript from audio snippet:

Brian Ward: There was more of a subdued battle for civil rights. That’s not to say there wasn’t a great need for mobilization in cities like Charlotte, but there were very few major confrontations or conflagrations there in the 60s, not until you get really into the bussing crisis of the early 1970s. I wondered if radio in those places, actually had sort of a mollifying effect that actually kept things cooler. I found two very interesting stations: one, WBT, which was a major 50,000 watt station, that was heavily white-oriented but always included a certain amount of black-oriented programming; and another station, WGIV, which I sort of fell in love with, really, I thought this was a terrific station. I went by a white southerner from South Carolina called Francis Fitzgerald, who somewhere along the way line ahead of the game on the civil rights issues and began to encourage more and more overt promotion of voter registration drives, he was somewhat more willing to entertain the idea of black protests on the streets if the city government didn’t actually comply with desegregation ordinances and laws. But, you know, this guy was in a way a sort of a model of a progressive white southerner working with an overwhelmingly black staff, with DJs like “Chattie Hattie” Leeper and “Genial Gene” Potts to actually try to use the radio to encourage what was in a way a sort of nonviolent movement, and really had a good deal of success in achieving desegregation in Charlotte, in a relatively orderly manner.

Bob Friedman: Were there connections do you find in your book or your research rather, connections that were made between these various disc jockeys and announcers from various cities…did Tall Paul have conversations with Nat Williams? Was there a web that was developing?


Full interview: 37 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Brian Ward and Bob Friedman, “Brian Ward, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed February 19, 2019,

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