Reflections on Bob Umbach from Tommy Cox


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Tommy Cox 2 min.mp3
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Reflections on Bob Umbach from Tommy Cox


Tommy Cox, a WJLD listener interviewed about Bob Umbach, WJLD Radio Announcer and originator of the Atomic Boogie Hour in 1946. Tommy began listening to Bob Umbach in 1949. Tommy called Bob Friedman in 2005 letting him know he had a Rhythm and Blues Encyclopedia (actually the Rhythm and Blues Jazz Scrapbook) from 1952, and that Bob Umbach told him to order it by mail. He brought it to the station and donated it to the BBRM. We made him a copy. Tommy also shared what he remembered about Bob Umbach and early Birmingham radio. The above referenced scrap book is provided for review in the BBRM 1952 Ephemera Collection.


Tommy Cox
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


September 2005


Thomas Kulovitz
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Tommy Cox


Transcript of audio snippet:

Bob Friedman: This is just terrific. There’s just so much in this book. And so many wonderful pictures of artists from all across the country. And now I’m gonna ask you some questions I have just… because my socks are knocked off. I’m almost speechless here when I look at these absolutely fabulous pictures. The Orioles, you got a picture of the Orioles. Of course, we have a picture of the Orioles when they came to visit WEDR. Roy Milton, Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup, Nelly Lutcher. Just fabulous. A fabulous, fabulous, fabulous book. Tell us Mr. Cox in your words.., how old were you in 1952?
Tommy Cox: uh, 16.
B: You were 16 in ’52. So you were born in 1936?
T: Correct.
B: And how did you find WJLD? Now you sent for that book in 1952, but how long had you been listening to the station?
T: Well, since ’49.
B: Since ’49?
T: Bob Umbach. And even at night they used to have a popular show, 10 to 12, playing popular music.
B: Yes.
T: And I listened to that. I don’t remember who announced. One time they had a girl on there.
B: And that was on JLD?
T: Uh huh.
B: Uh huh. What do you remember about Bob Umbach? Did you ever meet him?
T: Well, one time I went down there on, his birthday was on January the first.
B: January the first, you remember that….
T: That was his birthday. And I got my mother to send him a telegram, “Happy birthday!”
B: Uh huh.
T: He read that all day long. (laughs)
B: Did he really? Where was WJLD at the time?
T: Down the superhighway. Where Jones Auto Parts is now.
B: Ok, ok. And now it’s Austin Auto Parts.
T: Right.
B: They changed it. It’s that funny looking building with the port holes for windows.
T: Right.
B: Uh huh. And did you ever go down to that?
T: Yeah, I went down one New Year’s Day. Rode the bus down there and got out. I spotted the door’s open.
B: Where’d you live at the time?
T: West End. Same place I live now.
B: So you took the bus all the way down Third Avenue?
T: Yeah, I had to go to downtown Birmingham, transfer to the 45.


Full interview: 32 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Tommy Cox and Bob Friedman, “Reflections on Bob Umbach from Tommy Cox,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed July 9, 2020,

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This Item dcterms:relation Item: Rhythm and Blues Jazz Handbook, edited by Thurston Moore