Gary Richardson, Oral History


Gary Richardson, Oral History


Gary Richardson (b. Feb 18, 1957) Born to a coal mining family in Praco, Alabama, Gary spent some early years with childhood friends rummaging through junk yards, experimenting with discarded electrical components and such, and evolved into owning WJLD Radio and hosting the longest running talk show in Birmingham radio history, (1989 - ) the Gary Richardson Morning Show, Mon-Fri from 6-8AM on WJLD 1400 AM in Birmingham, Alabama, with simulcasts on WIXI 1360 AM Jasper and 94.1 FM Birmingham. The four term mayor of Midfield, Alabama and Director of Technology Services for the Bessemer, Alabama school system, Gary took time for the following interview, one which should appeal to radio aficionados, tech heads and the like, as well as how one man with a love for the field weathered many storms. Bob Friedman, his long-time employee and friend successfully coaxed him to the office of the Alabama Historical Radio Society (AHRS) in Birmingham for this presentation.


Gary Richardson
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


August 29, 2015


Kyley Thompson
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Gary Richardson


Alabama Historical Radio Society (AHRS) in Birmingham


Transcription (Gary Talks Station Ownership, Second from Right)

Gary Richardson: I later bought 1220 WAYE... another station I was fired from, ‘cause Black Pope, when he brought me over to WBUL 1220 - (preceded WAYE), I was running my mouth in the studio to a guy - he had worked with, Pope... down he said when you think about his music? I said all this payola music music in here, are you kidding? it was junk, I said, but it was a job. I said all this payola music in there and Pope came in there on a Wednesday and brought me my check. I said payday's early. He said yeah, for you ‘cause it's your last day. He fired me.

“Gary, your mouth will get you in trouble.” That's what he told me. But anyway, Pope ended up working for me ‘cause he was later fired. So both of the gentleman who fired me actually ended up working for me.

BF: Yup

GR: Al Bell worked for me. And Black Pope ended up workin' for me.

(Audience members laugh)

GR: And so anyway, we bought WAYE from Bishop Willis. Willis, he had died and his attorney was handling his estate. So I call it... the lawyer and went up. We paid for that station $225,000. For WAYE 1220 and I had it about two years and I sold it to Rivero Communications, Hispanic group. And we sold it to them for $550k (Five Hundred Fifty Thousand). And we also swapped out a station that Rivero owned. They owned a 12,000 watt AM station, 1360 WIXI. We had just a couple years later, had gotten an upgrade, and an engineer owned it named David Snavely... owned it, got it to be upgraded from 1000 watt, 1360 daytimer to a 12,000 watt daytimer. But it was in Jasper, there was no Mexicans down there. So they had this big ole station. So anyway, to convince me they really wanted Birmingham because they were leasing 1450 AM out of Bessemer. And the owner of the company wanted the station back They needed a Birmingham based station so they came after me, made me an offer I couldn't refuse, double what I paid for it, then got another radio station in the swap.


Full Oral History: 3 Hrs. 22 Sec
Snippet: 2 minutes


Snapshot 1 (1-26-2023 3-23 PM).jpg
Gary Richardson.pdf
Gary talks station ownership - 8-29-2015.mp3
"Morning Talk", Early days of WJLD 1400 AM


Gary Richardson and Bob Friedman, “Gary Richardson, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed July 24, 2024,

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