Billy Evans, Oral History


Billy Evans.jpg
Billy Evans 2 min.mp3


Billy Evans, Oral History


Bessemer Radio History


Billy Cliff Evans (b. Dec 12, 1924, d. Apr 5, 2004), announcer at WJLD in the mid 1940’s. Billy shares recollections of early broadcasting from Bessemer radio stations. Became treasurer of the Bessemer History Center.


Billy Evans
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


November 10, 1993


Emily Bibb
Thomas Kulovitz
Ashley Wilson








Bob Friedman


Billy Evans


Transcript of audio snippet:

Billy Evans: We had a man, a Black man, John Broadnax.
Bob Friedman: John Broadnax.
BE: Who was a piano player. He played. He had a 15-minute program once a week and it was on Friday nights for McClure Furniture Company in Bessemer. John came up and played the old piano in the studio.
BF: [laughter]
BE: Every week. Oh, there are 10 million stories you could think of about that crazy radio station.
BF: Tell me that guy’s name again?
BE: John Broadnax.
BF: John Broadnax. B-R-O-A-D-N-A-X.
BF: He played the, there was a piano at the station and he played the piano.
BE: Yeah.
BF: It was a 15-minute show. What kind of music did he play?
BE: He played whatever. Everything from “Pistol Packing Mama” to gospel.
BF: uh-uh.
BE: He’d just get in there and play away. [laughter]
BF: You say somebody sponsored him?
BE: Yeah, McClure Trading company. It was a furniture store in Bessemer.
BF: Mm-hm.
BE: They sponsored him. We would put John Broadnax up to play “Beer Barrel Polka”, because Mr. Doss wouldn’t let us play it.
BF: He didn’t want you to play polka?
BE: He didn’t want the word “beer” mentioned on the station.
BF: Oh, I see.
BE: And we would put John Broadnax up to it. We could play “Here comes the Navy” which was a “Beer Barrel Polka” with different words. But we could not play the “Beer Barrel Polka”! [laughter]
BF: [laughter] And Sadie Mae Patterson, I was told, gave Alex Bradford a shot on the air.
BE: Yeah, that’s right! We also had a remote and a little funeral parlor. Oh my gosh!
BF: Do you remember a little about Sadie? Or John, what they looked like? And God knows, if there are pictures of any of these people?
BE: I doubt that there are. You know, we didn’t make picture then.
BF: Of course, not.
BE: That’s what’s so strange. And I late became a commercial photographer.
BF: Oh really?
BE: Yeah!


Full interview: 46 minutes
Audio snippet: 2 minutes


Billy Evans and Bob Friedman, “Billy Evans, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed February 1, 2023,

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