[L - R] Rev. Ralph Abernathy-SCLC, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., WDAS General Manager Bob Klein, Philadelphia NAACP President Cecil Moore, Esq. [back row] DJ Georgie Woods, WDAS Newsman Ed Bradleymore...
This photo was taken prior to a press conference announcing a new spirit of cooperation between Dr. King and Philadelphia civil rights leader Cecil Moore, Esquire, of the NAACP. The press conference was also the result of a truce worked out between the two leaders by Bob Klein, who had working relationships with both men. Cecil Moore had already made a series of remarks and moves in Dr. King's direction that were not positive. The freshness of the new peace accord is evident in this rare footage of the actual press conference held jointly by King and Moore, at the Bellevue Stratford Hotel on August 2, 1965. The footage was originally shot by KYW Television News.©opyright Wynne Alexander
On August 28, 1963 one of the world's largest and most profoundly peaceful demonstrations to correct oppression was held in Washington D.C. WDAS Newsman Jim Klash [in bow-tie] is seen with Station Education Director, Chet Carmichael [on right] and Georgie Woods [on left]. Next to George is Dottie Scott of the WDAS Traffic Department. And next to her, in the light suit, is WDAS DJ "Bonnie Prince Charlie" Geter. Recalling that historic day, Geter said:
"WDAS sent 13 buses to the 1963 March on Washington. We told our audience, 'if you want to go-we'll take you there.' And however many said they wanted in-that's how many buses were ordered. And WDAS paid for the whole trip - 13 buses full. And each bus had a WDAS staffer on board acting as the bus captain. And we pulled up and joined all the hundreds of thousands of other people... Remarkable how beautifully organized and calm it all was, but so profoundly moving. It was just so amazing."
Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson sang, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, John Lewis, Walter Reuther and Whitney Young spoke, then Dr. King delivered the finale, "I Have a Dream." ©opyright
The radio station came into being at a crucial time in history.
WDAS was both a participant and a leader in perhaps the world's greatest multi-cultural, multi-racial victory over entrenched oppression.
Under tremendous pressure from all sides, emerges this extraordinary example of Blacks and
Whites working together for Justice.
Working together on behalf of Freedom, to benefit all people, to free a nation,
an effort that can serve as a beacon throughout the world. An example of what can be done when
the humanity and beauty of differing cultures matter more than anything else.
©opyright W. Alexander
NAACP National Director Roy Wilkins, WDAS Award Winning Editorial Director Jim Klash, NAACP-Philadelphia President Cecil Moore, Esq. and Bob Klein who served as Moore's board member and Philadelphia NAACP Treasurer, meeting in 1965.
At this time, many people would tell you 'NAACP' stood for the National Association for the Advancement of Cecil's People.
While making one of many appearances on WDAS Radio's The Listening Post, Malcolm X tells WDAS News Editor and host Joe Rainey, "It's good to be back here, Joe. You know I can't get on those other radio stations."
That was more than an allusion to the fact that Malcolm X was not welcome in many places. It was also an inside joke. There were a lot of extra bodies milling around the station that night, so it wasn't easy getting in the studio.
During this particular broadcast, the WDAS studios on Edgeley Drive were surrounded both inside and out, by Philadelphia Police and Civil Disobedience squad officers. Reliable word had come down through the FBI and others, that Malcolm X was going to be assassinated at the radio station. This documented threat to kill Malcolm X unfolded on December 29, 1964 - only 7 and a half weeks before he was murdered in New York. Both overtly and covertly, one hundred police officers and canine units combed the area around WDAS, staying posted there for hours. An elite squad of marksmen were positioned on the roof and 14 dogs searched the woods. The heavy show of arms had two purposes: find trouble before it happens and create a presence big enough to scare off murderers.
©opyright W. Alexander
General Manager Bob Klein and WDAS Vice President and News Director Joe Rainey made a decision. Despite management's fears for the safety of everyone at the station, Rainey knew how important broadcasts were to Malcolm X.
Just back from Africa and earlier on the calender, Mecca, with new visionary ideals, leading his own new organizations, Malcolm X needed as much public exposure as possible to boost his influence after breaking with the Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad.
So Malcolm X arrives, walking past lines of Philadelphia policemen with pump action shotguns. Amid an extraordinary police presence in the studio, down the halls, sharpshooters on the WDAS roof and in the bushes -- the show went on.
All was well in Studio B.
The two men chatted calmly as usual, with no hint of any death threats or the dramatic backstage safety precautions.
Malcolm X was killed less than two months later in the Audubon Ballroom in New York City.A partial tape of that WDAS radio broadcast still exists.
Transcripts of other shows were also found --- in the files of the FBI.
This extraordinary protection of Malcolm X was also common knowledge when it was covered in all three of Philadelphia's daily newspapers at the time. Looking back at this public discussion of security matters, it might have been a further attempt to guard Malcolm's life. A signal to the would-be killers and their handlers that too much spotlight was on Malcolm for them to get away with murder.
December 30, 1964
WDAS Vice President Joe Rainey's cutting edge news judgment, sense of history, style and guts gave WDAS Radio the indisputable credibility necessary to change the minds of so many. Rainey's relationship with Malcolm X was one amazing example of his many great calls. Joe Rainey was a visionary.
To say that Malcolm X was severely misunderstood in his lifetime is an enormous and tragic understatement. The world's embrace of Malcolm X in recent times is not what he experienced himself. He was a man of the future, of big thoughts, big enough to change his mind, to allow the Light to lead him.
Yet again, the world didn't know what it had.
So many people didn't get it, didn't like him and didn't give a damn.
Who mourned for Malcolm X...
Joe Rainey did - he lost a friend.
©opyright W. Alexander
Original copy and caption from a magazine produced by WDAS Radio, circa 1964, illustrating the national and local events covered and prestigious awards won by WDAS News. WDAS Editor Walt Sanders pictured in the aftermath of the September 15, 1963, Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing, which killed four young girls. They were attending Sunday School in Birmingham, they are Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Addie Mae Collins and Cynthia Wesley.
February 11, 1964
featuring Jim Klash, Walt Sanders, Joe Rainey and Bill Adams
Jim Klash: ace newsman and editorialist, tireless warrior against racism and oppression, the winner of the Armstrong Award for Journalism, nine Valley Forge Freedoms Foundation Awards, including two sets of 4 consecutive wins, dozens of Associated Press Awards for news and editorial excellence.
Also pictured are WDAS journalists Walt Sanders, Joe Rainey and Bill Adams.
In the Globe-insert are: Roy Wilkins-NAACP, James Farmer-CORE [Congress of Racial Equality], Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr.-SCLC, Whitney Young-National Urban League and President Lyndon Johnson reportedly meeting at the White House prior to the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
There's something else you should know about Jim Klash. His titles varied from time to time, from WDAS News Director to Editorial Director. And at all times, he was one of the most decorated radio journalists in town. His ability to win news awards ranged from the coverage of "hot" news to his profound, gutsy and visionary editorials. Raised in Boston, his first reporting was for The Stars and Stripes during World War II. After active duty, he was a newspaperman working at the Pittsburgh Courier, Cleveland Call-Post and the Scott Newspaper Syndicate of Atlanta, Ga. After a brief stint at Radio 560 News-WFIL, he joins the staff of WDAS circa 1960. There Jim Klash wages war on police brutality, racial discrimination, and so much more, literally every known social ill besetting those turbulent times. WDAS staffers close to Klash knew that "slow news days" were rough on Jim. He liked action - a lot of action. Wherever news broke - he was there. Flying to Selma or Montgomery, covering the nation's capitol and every neighborhood in Philadelphia.©opyright W. A.
During the coverage of the 1964 Columbia Avenue riots, Joe Rainey was at the anchor desk and Jim Klash joined four other 'DAS newsmen in the field to report efforts being made to stop the violence and to bear witness since it was then unclear how the riots got started and how effective the police response was. Klash felt compelled to see for himself, knowing an on-going riot was no time to have suspicions leading to rumor. While reporting from a phone booth on Columbia Avenue, 'live'-on the radio, Klash was mistaken for white by an angry mob. On the air, you heard the phone booth rocking, the crowd yelling, the door being smashed, and Jim Klash, trying to maintain his calm, continued reporting -- but to no avail. The mob got the better of him. On the air, you heard the phone booth go down as they knocked it over, crashing in and attacking him for the color of his skin. Klash sustained serious injuries that required immediate medical attention.
It was bad.
But he was undaunted.
It's recalled he was back at work in three days-against doctor's orders. A really fearless fighter for human and civil rights.©opyright W. A.
Jim Klash's daughter, Bea remembers her father's contributions vividly. She says the Columbia Avenue racial incident was not the first time Klash was mistaken for white and attacked by blacks. She said there was a remarkably similar incident in New York when Jim worked for the Amsterdam News. Bea also remembers an extremely dangerous mission in Selma, Alabama involving her father and WDAS GM Bob Klein. Bea Klash picks up the story in a letter to Wynne Alexander: " It was right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement - My dad and Phil Savage of the NAACP, went to Selma to participate and cover that event. They all left from our home on 15th St. When they arrived they met up with a contingent of folks from Philadelphia and Dr. King's staff. Your father and mine, were itching to get an inside view of what the other side was planning for the march on Selma. Being that my dad could pass the color test, they decided to go to one of the neighborhood haunts of the Klan. These two walked in and ordered a drink. Started to mingle with the folks, don't know the approach they used but they did engage in conversation. In walked some Klan members, don't know whether it was the lack of a drawl that caused the Klan to become suspicious. (Interjection here: As I sit here and recall this incident, somewhere in the brain I remember they were called out by someone who had seen them earlier in the day with the other " N-____ Supporters." )
...They soon discovered that they were "White Northern Trouble Makers" and what-ever southern rebel names were called -- they had to run for their lives. They wanted to ... Tar and Feather them and run them out of town. My dad said really for the first time, fearing for their lives, ran to a nearby road and flagged a car down. Luckily they were civil rights workers. They got in the car and were driven to safety. They left the area that night. No luggage, that was at a hotel, whatever equipment, tape recorders was left also. That was the end of the march's coverage for them. I remember my mother asking my dad where were his clothes and he said, 'Ruth we had to get out of town and fast, everything was left there.' So they may not have covered the historic, bloody march as they intended, but they did live to tell it."
There are more of Bea Klash-Jeffries' accounts of just how dangerous being a U-S Freedom Fighter could be. She's in the DOCUMENTS section, after the Malcolm X stories, detailing the everyday treachery loose in the land, when the U-S movement toward universal civil rights more resembled this country's second civil war.©opyright W.A.
Eddie Bell's 1957 NFL Football card
Hometown hero Eddie Bell was the first sports reporter for WDAS Radio. Philly's finest all the way, his brains and athletics took him from West Philadelphia High School to the University of Pennsylvania, where he starred on their football team, then went right over to the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles.
Eddie joined WDAS News after his pro career was over around 1962. His show was on every weekday, Monday through Friday, in morning drive time.The Eddie Bell Show, "brought to you by the ARCO Go Patrol," was one of WDAS' first long-term 'big client' success stories.
Exhibiting unusually progressive social thinking, the Atlantic Richfield Oil Company [ARCO] was Eddie Bell's exclusive sponsor for many years, making them the first major oil company with a yearly contract commitment in the station's history.
By comparison, Chevrolet-USA didn't buy time on WDAS AM-FM until 1976.
For a crew that did so much selling - it wasn't easy getting 'Madison Avenue' to buy into Black Radio.
©opyright W. A.
It may have all started with some white guys in suits and a shovel - but this was no ordinary groundbreaking.
WDAS AM-FM set ground-breaking standards in broadcast news, music, public affairs, ratings innovations and politics. The harmony on the air matched by the social harmony WDAS marched for and achieved.
The second in a series of legendary WDAS Freedom Shows at the Philadelphia Civic Center, also known as Convention Hall. This one benefiting the NAACP and OIC.
The WDAS Freedom Shows were entertainment extravaganzas, raising hundreds of thousands of 1960's-dollars, booking triple or four times the number of acts normally seen at concerts, where the majority of the recording artists came in for the show without their normal performance fee and the money generated went to area civil rights organizations.
John Bandy and Bob Klein in a 1960 publicity photo taken to accompany the November 1960 press release naming Bandy Assistant General Manager of WDAS Radio. One of the first African Americans in broadcasting senior management nationwide, by 1963, Bandy was appointed a WDAS corporate vice president by station CEO Max M. Leon.
This picture is dated August 3, 1965. While Joe Tamburro had not yet made his radio debut, he is a 'DAS staffer working in the sales department and in this picture he is seen holding a gift Bob Klein was presenting to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Warwick Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
"J.T.", "Butterball" or "Butter", as he was later known, began working at WDAS in 1964, on the sales department roster, but spent most of his time assisting Bob Klein and Program Director Jimmy Bishop.
In this picture, J.T. is seen with the immensely talented Jimmy Bishop, who had become WDAS Vice President for Programming. They're backstage, going over the program for the 1966 Freedom Show at Convention Hall. From the first time Butterball went on the air, about a year after this picture was taken, his abundant charisma and "ear" were immediately appreciated by management and audience alike. He went from working weekends and 'swing man'(meaning he filled-in on everyone else's shift) to a one-hour, daily, Oldies program at 11 PM, then to evening drive in relatively short order. His signaure rap to Jr. Walker's "Cleo's Back" and later Sly Stone's "Sex Machine" had legendary impact, with young people reciting it from North Philly to the Main Line. Heard in three states, Butterball's daily show became one of the station's most popular ever. When Bishop left WDAS to become Vice President of April/Blackwood Publishing-CBS Records, Butter succeeded him as Program Director of WDAS-AM, eventually taking over the reins at WDAS-FM, from Harvey Holiday, who had become the stations' Research Director.
Butter began and ended his career with one set of call letters - WDAS AM-FM.
He remained on the air there, for 45 years.
[L-R] Melvin Franklin, Eddie Kendricks, Dennis Edwards, Max M. Leon, Paul Williams, Otis Williams
Leave it to WDAS CEO Max Leon to discover the Temps were really opera lovers. The picture to the left was taken March 7, 1969. The occasion is an award ceremony held by the Philadelphia Grand Opera Company. Serving in his capacity as opera company president, Leon is presenting the Temptations with a proclamation in appreciation of their musical brilliance and their mutual musical interests from "My Girl" to "Madame Butterfly"
Bob Klein and Jimmy Bishop backstage at the Uptown Theatermore...
The programming mastermind behind WDAS-AM
In the mid 60s, WDAS-AM solidified its position as a major musical force in the industry. Program directors from all over the country would call Bishop on weekends to find out what he was adding to the playlist on Monday-trusting his ear over their own.
According to his first wife Sonia Leon, Bob Klein said, "Jimmy Bishop is single-handedly responsible for the sound of WDAS."
The musical power, the style, the hits -- that was Bishop.
Read More about Jimmy Bishop
[left-right] Rev. Dr. William H. Gray, Jr.- Civil Rights Activist, Bright Hope Baptist Church, King friend, father of Congressman and Rev. Dr. Bill Gray III
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Georgie Woods of WDAS
The legendary Sam Evans - friend of Eleanore Roosevelt, defender of J. Robert Oppenheimer, warrior against McCarthyism, founding chairman of the American Foundation for Negro Affairs
Bob Klein with activist-singer-dancer-movie star, Sammy Davis Jr. and Georgie Woods backstage at the Uptown Theater during a charity concert the trio staged to benefit young Philadelphians and to deter gang violence.
Gang warfare reached new deadly highs in 1969 and 1970 in Philadelphia. WDAS worked with numerous activists and social agencies trying to stop the violence. This benefit concert and an extensive star-packed telethon, highlighted the on-going gun surrender programs and constant youth out-reach efforts at WDAS.
Taking the Freedom Show concept to new heights and to the television screen, Bob Klein staged a super star-studded Telethon raising money and awareness for youth related problems and solutions. Klein produced a program with twenty-two of the biggest acts in show business; both black and white, from R&B to Rock and Gospel superstars. James Brown shared the stage with Neil Diamond, Rev. James Cleveland, Frankie Valli and Iron Butterfly. The talent and extraordinary diversity of genres may well have been another WDAS 'first.' They appeared along with boxing and civil rights champion Muhammad Ali, WDAS disc jockeys and community leaders at the WKBS-TV 48 studios for the all-night telethon.
When Walt Palmer and Bob Klein created WDAS Unity Day in 1978, they weren't allowed to stage anything on the Parkway, nor in Fairmount Park. Philadelphia's lame-duck Mayor Frank Rizzo was still royally peeved that WDAS spearheaded the campaign defeating his chance to run for a crowning third term. Absolutely one to hold a grudge and actually quite displeased with WDAS for many years, Frank Rizzo turned down all requests for permits in or near anything considered prime locations. No matter. The organizational skills of Unity Day co-founder Walt Palmer were limitless, his energy boundless. Newspaper reports indicate WDAS got 20 acres in West Philly including the Lee Cultural Center, Drexel University's athletic fields, and the West Park Housing Complex. All of which were reported "in use through out the day." Cobbling together entrepreneurs, activists and educators, coupled with the trademark WDAS Entertainment Committee, the station attracted tens of thousands of Philadelphians to the first Unity Day on July 16, 1978.
The newspaper should have called this shot "Clash of the Titans" because both these men are giants in their fields. Here we see one of the greatest hearts in the history of the Pennsylvania legislature, State Representative Dave Richardson and WDAS DJ Extraordinaire, Research Director and founding WDAS-FM Program Director, Harvey Holiday, playing in the second annual softball game pitting the WDAS Allstars against the 'Philadelphia Political Leaders.' While the score of the game maybe lost in the files, certainly the Community was the biggest winner.
Over the years, WDAS Unity Day grew into a giant festival and under the watchful eye of Billy Penn, high atop City Hall, corporate giants lined up along the Parkway to join with a station they once shunned or ignored. WDAS Unity Day became Unity Week, reporting 1 million participants. Then the current owners, Clear Channel, canceled it.
And Louise went on to do another 25 years in radio and so much more. While the length and strength of her extraordinary on-air career is amazing, she also became an ordained Baptist minister. And from her current seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature, she transcended to iconic WDAS legend. In becoming a Black elected official herself, she brought home the political empowerment WDAS worked so hard for all those years.
August 3, 1965
Roy Wilkins - National NAACP President (at podium)
Bob Klein of WDAS Radio and Treasurer of the Philadelphia NAACP
Cecil Moore, Esq. - Philadelphia NAACP President
Georgie Woods of WDAS - prior to 'live' broadcast address, on August 3, 1965
Bob Klein ( back row - No. 2 )
Quarterback, with fellow members of the 1942 Overbrook High School Varsity Football Team
©opyright 2007-2015 WYNNE ALEXANDER All Rights Reserved
Photos Copyright Bob Klein Archive unless otherwise specified
©opyright 2007-2015 Wynne Alexander All Rights Reserved
Photos Copyright Bob Klein Archive unless otherwise specified