Ben Franklin, Oral History (part 02)


Ben and Walden at WJLD Trans0001.jpg
BF-2 snip.mp3
Ben Franklin 2 new.pdf


Ben Franklin, Oral History (part 02)


Engineer Ben Franklin (Ben) continues in this 1993 interview recounting his stories of early Birmingham radio.


Ben Franklin
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


November 04, 1993


Jeff Hirshy
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Ben Franklin


Transcript from audio snippet:

Ben: (referring to WJLD AM 1400) Ah, station still in Bessemer then. It was in city hall
then. And ah Connolly and Umbach got together and Connolly says, I mean Umbach
says “I’ll play that stuff. Yeah, I’ll play it. Yeah, yeah”.
Bob: Eh hmmm
Ben: And ah he figured he could and he…..
Bob: So did Connolly try to talk him into it?
Ben: No, No, No….
Bob: And Umbach agreed or what.
Ben: It’s worse than that.
Bob: Ok.
Ben: They got together and went to Johnston, see, Johnston the second, and ah oh
hell no he said, Ku Klux cut the tower down…….. They knew what would swing
Bob: Eh hmmmm
Ben: And they went out and sold an hour. Back then they sold strips, didn’t sell spots.
They sold strips…..
Bob: Eh hmm, they sold fifteen minute strips or something.
Ben: Yeah, eh, 25 dollars a week for five fifteen minute strips. They went and sold an
hour of them, four of them. One sold four in Bessemer on 1st Avenue up there. The
theater bought one, and ah I forgot who all else there were up there. Sale of four strips.
They come back and laid 100 dollars on Johnston’s….
Bob: Johnston had second thoughts by that point.
Ben: Yeah, and he give in… money talks. Ah, ah, and that’s one of the things that
started it but he told them “This is just a trial now. We’ll do it for a month.”


Full Interview: 31 minutes
Audio Snippet: 2 minutes


Ben Franklin and Bob Friedman, “Ben Franklin, Oral History (part 02),” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed March 24, 2023,

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