Al Isaac, Oral History


Al Isaac, Oral History


A flashback to the 1950's New York City days of Jocko Henderson, Birmingham born and raised Al Isaac had a special connection with his RnB and Blues listening audience at WATV 900 AM in Birmingham. His laugh, his character voices they were clearly a hit with his call-in listeners. Unlike others on the air, Al took listener calls while the music played on. A popular platter party man with local clubs and community groups, Al Isaac made a point of not identifying his music or his artists, and his listeners still loved his show as you can hear from the September 2, 2001 clip we've provided.

(Oral History audio is second file, second from left. At far right is a clip of Al Isaac's WATV intro, recorded September 2, 2001.)


Al Isaac
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


October 11, 2018


Emily L. Reynolds
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Al Isaac


Transcript of Audio Snippet:

Al Isaac: Some other people along with myself, we created the Junior Civic League because there were a Senior Civic League – just a bunch of neighborhood people that came up the Civic League I guess to help out with things in the neighborhood or neighborhood structure or what have you. Alright and then us kids we’re trying to be grown and we come up with a Junior Civic League, which gave us access to this building while the ball games were being playing there. Which was next door to a vacant lot where they had a Rock-Ola tied to a tree with a chain. And the Reeves boys, they would – they’re from Wenonah. There were two of them. Walter Reeves and Tommy Lee. Walter Reeves and Tommy Lee Reeves. They would dance out there by the tree and people would throw quarters, and fifty-cent pieces, and dimes, and nickels. There was money at the end, you know?

Bob Friedman: Yeah.

AI: And they were doing the twist. I can hear Chubby Checker in the background. (Sings) “Come on baby, do the twist” And everybody’s standing around them, alright. And then I would be inside the building there and I would be playing my Tommy Tucker. (Sings) “Put on your red dress baby, ‘cause we’re goin’ out tonight” and I was just so fascinated by that. Did not have a microphone.

BF: Just by yourself with your unit. You were playing to the crowd in the football field.

AI: Right. They would come in. They would come in because I would also play "Shot Gun" – the girls is what made the audience, created the audience, because I was playing honky-tonk. I would play the record honky-tonk and the girls would come in and do their slide dance that they were doing at that time. It was a slide, but they didn’t call it the slide.

BF: It wasn’t the stroll?

AI: It may have been the stroll. I don’t recall what they called it, but the girls would get together – guys wouldn’t do it. Only the group of girls and they’d just be making these steps in a line and we would stand by and just watch the women do this. It was fascinating to me. And I guess that’s where I started picking up my starmanship, because stuff like that fascinated me. It’s sorta like the ones who were out in front of things were the ones getting all the attention. And I wanted to be popular.


Audio Snippet: 2 minutes
Full interview: 02:05:58


Seoia, at board.jpg
Al Isaac 2 min.mp3
Al Isaac.pdf
Al Isaac WATV 9-2-01 clip.mp3


Al Isaac and Bob Friedman, “Al Isaac, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed June 22, 2024,

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