Taft Epstein, A. G. Gaston, and Deacon Willie McKinstry


Taft Epstein, A. G. Gaston, and Deacon Willie McKinstry


Box 7 Folder 5: "Three giants of radio and gospel promotion: (l-r) Taft Epstein, owner of two clothing stores in Birmingham, well known for his gospel concert sponsorship, helping produce the popular church fans of the 1960's and 70's, with the likenesses of Martin Luther King, Deacon Richmond Davis, and the Ensley Jubilees on one side, and advertising on the other; A.G. Gaston, multi millionaire owner of Booker T Washington Insurance Company, Citizens Federal Bank and Smith and Gaston Funeral Home. He would eventually own WENN/WAGG radio in 1976; and finally, one of the deans of Birmingham Black radio, Deacon Willie McKinstry from WJLD (1947-77). WJLD 1400, and early WENN 1320 would broadcast the same religious programs at the same time, with Epps (Epstein's) as sponsor. On one fan, WBUL was added to the simultaneous station promotion. This picture appears to have been taken during one such broadcast, at the LR Hall, an event space connected to AG Gaston's building on 16th Street ands 5th Ave north (still standing). This picture, also donated Manuel Fitch, who believed it may have been a live broadcast of the Ensley Jubilees, probably the most famous of the Jefferson County sound groups, who recorded at least one 78 rpm record that we know of, on announcer Trumon Puckett's label in 1949, the Hallelujah label."


b7f5a - Epstein-Gaston-McKinstry at LR Hall - 1975.jpg



“Taft Epstein, A. G. Gaston, and Deacon Willie McKinstry,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed June 25, 2024, https://www.thebbrm.org/item/425.

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Maxie Bishop

Mrs. Ruby Willis,

Worked at Epps jewelery and hosted those gospel shows at churches across Birmingham.  

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