Dave Donnell, Oral History


Dave Donnell, Oral History


Dave Donnell (b. Nov.2, 1949.) Dave held many positions at many stations, starting in 1969 at WVOL AM Nashville, his birth city, then to KALO AM Little Rock and finally to Birmingham, where he spent many years at WENN 107.7 FM, at WBUL 1220, at KISS FM, and later at WJLD 1400. Here, he reflects on his memories in conversation with Bob Friedman in the Projection Room of the old Carver Theatre in Birmingham, looking over old pictures.


Dave Donnell
Bob Friedman


Birmingham Black Radio Museum


May 8, 2015


Mark Usry
Emily Bibb






Bob Friedman


Dave Donnell


Transcript of audio snippet:

Dave Donnell: Just grew up listening to the radio. WLAC was a popular station at the time with John Richbourg and "Hoss" Allen, but there was a little small station called WVOL there, too. Was very popular and the Black community grew up listening to people, uh, Clarence Kilcrease, better known as "Gilly Baby." I went to his appreciation about...Mm, 'bout six, seven months ago up in Nashville. One of the popular churches there. They were recognizing him. It's been there for years, but grew up listening to people like Ed Hall and Chuck Mitchell. Bill Perkins, Noble Blackwell.

Bob Friedman: These were African Americans...

DD: Yes

BF: On the air.

DD: Mhm. Very popular up there. As a matter of fact, Noble and Bill gave me my break. In Nashville at the time. But I just grew up listening to radio. Enjoyed the personalities. They were always upbeat and it always amazed me how they were able to be this way every day. Just friendly and lively and...course I've always loved music.

BF: Mhm

DD: And these guys just intrigued me. And I just listened to 'em day and night. And then late at night, I would turn over on WLAC and listen to "Hoss" Allen, John Richbourg. These guys just really excited me to listen to it.

BF: Yeah

DD: It was just something I started workin' on.

BF: Mhm

DD: And practicing my craft. Gettin' me a little small recorder and started recordin' my voice.

BF: Mhm

DD: Course, like most guys in this business back durin' that time, I got started in 1969. Started doin' parties.

BF: Mhm

DD: And I got recognized around the community doin' that and...

BF: Did ya have your own system?

DD: Yeah! Yeah, I did. At that time it was just one turntable.

BF: Well...

DD: It was an old P.A. system with a microphone and...

BF: Mhm

DD: a couple of speakers.

BF: Yeah

DD: And you know you get...

BF: No scratching, huh?

DD: (laughs) No scratching, then.

BF: (laughs)

DD: But, uh...

BF: But uh...

DD: We drew crowds.

BF: What's your date of birth? I should ask that.

DD: November 2nd, 1949.

BF: Okay.

DD: Yeah

BF: Alright

DD: I'll be 66 this year.

BF: Alright

DD: So

BF: Well, that's a...

DD: It's a blessing

BF: Great. Yeah, absolutely.

DD: Just two, uh.

BF: Look great.

BF: Look great.

DD: Yeah, great. Thanks.

BF: Oh yeah.

DD: Radio's been good but I've seen it's changed a lot.

BF: Yeah

DD: You know, but I enjoyed it. I, um, started at VOL. WVOL in 1969.

BF: What was the frequency?

DD: 1470.

BF: Mhm

DD: Yeah. Still on. It's...

BF: Was it a...

DD: Still there.

BF: Day-timer? Or what was it?

DD: It's 24 hours.

BF: Mhm

DD: Um, it goes directional at night. I guess that signal...

BF: Was it a thousand watts?

DD: Probably a thousand watts directional coming South at night.

BF: Yeah

DD: Matter of fact, back during that time, some people surprisingly telling me they would pick up the signal in Huntsville. Course, it's changed a lot since then.

BF: Mhm

DD: Whatever thing is goin' on in radio, but uh, it was a fun time. Eh, those were the fun days of radio.


Full Interview: 76 minutes
Audio Snippet: 2 minutes


(l-r) Rosco Floyd, Soul Vocalist Joe Simon, Dave and Leo Taylor - 1978, WENN.jpg
Dave Donnell 2 min.mp3
Dave Donnell.pdf


Dave Donnell and Bob Friedman, “Dave Donnell, Oral History,” The Birmingham Black Radio Museum, accessed April 24, 2024, https://www.thebbrm.org/item/534.

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