John Richbourg, 1510 WLAC Nashville | Program 10, Sometime, 1970s

1510 Nashville WLAC

Its impossible to nail down the date of this classic original broadcast. Not sure when ‘Program 10’ aired, nor are we sure of how the numbering scheme worked. Perhaps someone out there knows. We’re re-releasing this post with a few enhancements.

Here’s one of the most unique shows ever aired on AM radio. John Richbourg’s Rhythm & Blues show on WLAC was something most fans of R&B remember, although outside of the south, I’m not sure what the ratings were… or even if ratings were available for ‘clear channel’ (frequency, not the company) stations with popular shows after dark.

At the time of this recording, WLAC was not your run-of-the-mill radio station. It ran lots of network programming and middle-of-the-road fare during the day and only at NIGHT did the station turn to a format which intentionally captured a predominantly minority audience. For the benefit of those not old enough to remember John R., or Hoss Allen, their programs on WLAC literally shaped an entire generation of black entertainers and listeners, and according to wikipedia, is partly responsible for the evolution of rock and roll’s emergence out of the blues from poverty stricken areas of the South. History does not adequately acknowledge the enormous contribution to modern R&B radio that this one nightly program lent to radio. One thing is certain: WLAC was to R&B what WSM was to Country Music.

Thanks to site friend Jack Parnell for this excellent recording. It’s a slice of history of great importance, and one you’ll find nowhere else. Thanks Jack!



  1. larry doxey

    it was good hearing john r once again on wlac nashville…i grew up in west tennesse and listened sometimes to john r. brought back alot of memories..

  2. Ladd Goins

    I used to listen to John R. in Lynchburg, Va. in the early 60.s, before I began my career at WJJS radio. Be sure and catch the Bravo special “AM Radio DJ’s” if you want to see John R. and Hoss-man and other jocks working in the studio!

  3. Ron Mc Corkle

    What a small world, for sure ! I check out John R and see my “next door neighbor” Ladd Goins has been here !
    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the John R air check. I remember when I was living in Pittsburgh back in the early 60’s and when our local AM stations went off the air (around 8:45 p.m.), I would turn the dial to WLAC and listen to John R, Big Hugh Jarrett, “the little colonel” Herman Grizzard and last but not least, Gene Nobles. Just a bunch of country boys playing music to the black audience. And how could we forget Ernie’s record shop and Randy’s record shop in Gallatin, Tenn. along with White Rose petroleum jelly.
    I wish I could have ordered some of those record packages (mostly Excello labels ) that they advertised, but I was too young to have that kind of money.

  4. Ron Mc Corkle

    First of all, hello to Ladd Goins, almost my “next door neighbor” in Lynchburg,VA. Yes, I remember John R and WLAC well. Back in Pittsburgh, Pa where I was growing up, every day after the local AM stations went off the air, I would switch to WLAC and listen to John R, Big Hugh Jarrett, Herman Grizzard (The little Colonel) and Gene Nobels spin those R&B tunes. Just a few country boys playing music for the black audience. Let’s not forget Ernies’s record shop and Randy’s record shop in Gallatin Tenn. and also the White Rose petroleum jelly commercials !

  5. Billy Riley

    How great to find John R after so many years!! I used to listen to him as a kid at nights on a little transitor, as I’m sure many R&B starved fans did. Great site!!

  6. Bill Massey

    Oh yeah! I had the honor to work at WLAC 1510 AM back in the early 1970’s and to read news a few times for John R., Gene Nobles, and Hoss when Don Whitehead was absent. Herman Grizzard was already retired, but I DID have the pleasure to meet him. A true southern gentleman, he was. I don’t mind telling you, that was my claim to fame just working around those great guys. They weren’t exactly “country boys” by any stretch of the imagination. They were educated men, and “Hoss” was even an economics graduate of Vanderbilt University–they just knew how to lay on the BS. One of my fondest memories was the time I introduced a poor old black man who had saved his egg money for a long time just to buy a bus ticket from North Carolina to WLAC in Nashville to meet his hero, “John R.” I’ll never forget the expression on his face when he discovered that John Richbourg was a white man.

    I’ll always love WLAC and the good times I had there. Yes, WSM deserves its place in the sun for helping to establish Country Music, there’s no doubt about it, but let’s also give WLAC some credit for nurturing R & B, the grandfather of Rock and Roll. And to think, they were both 50 kw’s and located in Nashville!

    Bill Massey

  7. John Lentz

    John R was perhaps the most influential DJ I ever heard. A great radio personality, and a fine and generous man.
    John Lentz

  8. I just found this link. Hello I have co-written a screenplay titled WLAC Nashville with Chera Federle and we are still looking for folks who were at the station, Bill Massey, I would love to chat with you. More info at //

  9. larry E. Sumpter

    JOHN R was the best the world had to offer when it came down to laying the tracks. God gave him a distinquish and unique voice! These days and time most radio personalities sound alike and have the same radio format!

    When listen to (WLAC) back in the days, it was like a mystical and magical cloud had desented upon the land and you did’nt need no artificial high to party! Just me and my girl with (John R) blasting through the car speaks set the wheels in motions!

    Hey John R! What you going to do, when this train needs an engineer such as you. I can hear him say; ”step on board I am your man whose in control to take you to another land.” Yes for many of years John R was the engineer and conductor of WLAC and like me and million others we took a ride through the tunnel of soul with John R.

    Larry E. Sumpter

  10. I replaced John R. in 1973 and would like get involved in your screenplay. We went rock and soul from 1973 to 1980…then news/talk.

    Spider Harrison (909) 987-8429

  11. Gordon Morrow

    How great to hear John R. again!! WLAC was the only station I could get down in South Georgia at night in the mid 60s. Is there a better intro line in all of radio history than ‘this is John R. way down South in Dixie?’.

  12. Robert Forbes

    It’s great to the aircheck of John R. I listened to him
    when I was a teenager in south Mississippi. I hope that
    you can add more of John R and also some of “The Hossman”.

    Thanks for the memories.

  13. James Waters

    I listened to John R at the lake in Augusta Ga. as a teenager in the early 60’s. Man what great memories and what a great DJ. He was at many parties we had playing the music. Great to hear him again.

  14. Sam Nesby

    I grew up on WLAC. It’s fun to go back and listen.

  15. Wonder B

    Thank you for offering this great piece of Radio memorabilia to the ears of the youngsters! (not that I am one mself!) But doing that time warp and jumping back instantly to the early 70’s help remind us how great the current music of the days was! JUst fabulous.
    The only downside is the fact that it makes us sad to find out how the word quality (applied to music) has been totally barred from today’s vocabulary. How awful and painful it is if you plug in a current station after listening to this aural caviar!
    Thanks again!

  16. purcell stuart

    you made my day with this site. have,nt heard john r in 45 years, thanks for the memories.

  17. Jimmy Hale

    I grew up in West Carroll Parish, Pioneer La.
    During the day, WOKJ from Jackson Miss was the station to listen to. But at night, WLAC with John R was the place to be. He and the Hoss Man kept it funky.
    Thanks for rekindeling the memories.

  18. Laura C.

    Have been in heaven for the last hour taking a trip down memory lane! Thank you so much! I lived just up the road from Nashville in Glasgow, KY. Little ol’ white girl me was dedicated to listening to John R. after I got my homework finished during high school. Moved on to college at Western in BG, KY. WLAC was the only place to get pure soul. The music would just send you to another world. I have Ella Washington’s first album that John R. produced in 1969. “I Want To Walk Through This Life With You” still sends me to that other world! I quit listening to WLAC when they went pop in ’73, an end of an era… so sad, but to listen to John R.’s aircheck that you posted brought back such wonderful memories. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to relive my teenage & early adult years!!!!!!!!

  19. Laura C.

    By the way, to date this aircheck, John R. refers to new song by Little Charles & The Sidewinders “You’re A Blessing”. This came out in 1971.

  20. William Jackson

    Great to hear John R. once again. I use to listen to him back in the mid sixties at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumpter South Carolina. Always wondered about what happened to him and the station after I left there in 1969. The station brought a lot of joy and feelings of being home to many lonely Airmen. Thank you for “taking me back” to those good times and memories.

  21. G B

    How great is this! I have wanted my daughter to hear what I used to listen to when I was young for a long time.

    WLAC was hard to get in Northern Indiana. You had to wait until the local stations went off the air, late at night Then I twisted and turned that dial just so and put the radio up by my pillow.

    The next day at school all the “cool cats” and “little fillys” talked about the songs that we heard only on WLAC.

    I would love to have a CD of John R. and some of the others on WLAC. Is such a thing available? If not it should be.

    Thanks for the ride back in time.

  22. Hi, I replaced the legendary John R. in August 1973 at WLAC. Both John Richbourg and Hoss Allen knew me and the torch was past on. They wanted someone who could continue the John R. tradition and move into the new generation of Rock n Soul. It was successful than by 1975 WLAC went all Rock’Roll with Kent Burkhardt as consultant. Billboard Magazine bought WLAC around 1977 stay with the rock format. Put R&B back on around 11pm and Hoss Allen return playing sponsored Gospel programming until 5am. I also hosted the first Billboard Soul Countdown in 1978. Billboard sold the station to Wood Sudbrink and by 1980 the station went News Talk which is the format today and owned by Clear Channel.
    I’ll have my WLAC aircheck up in a few days on

    Thank you

  23. William Lee

    Man, I love this site. It bring back so many memories from my childhood growing up outside of Tallulah, Louisiana and listening to WLAC and John R after the local stations signed off. Thanks.

  24. Sounds GREAT ONE OF MY HEROES. MANY times ON THE AIR at various STATIONS I would I would THROW IN A LINE LIKE “I wonder what’s going on WAY DOWN SOUTH IN DIXIE” just to get audeience reaction SURE AS HELL I’D START GETTING CALLS FROM PEOPLE SAYING “YOU’RE A FAN OF JOHN R’S AREN’T YOU?” Thanks SO MUCH for posting this. THEMOJOMAN(.)COM

  25. Karl Phillips

    Sid – Check out my aircheck of Randy Robins on WQXI in Atlanta from 1969 and you will notice who his “radio hero” was too….

  26. Frank C. Davis

    Every night when we went to bed in the early sixties in Greenville, Florida (hometown of Ray Charles) my daddy did two things: he put on the bathroom light, and he left his a m radio on wide open. I’ll never forget John R talking about Ernie’s Record Mart and playing his music. I don’t know if my daddy liked the music, he was white and a country /western lover, or if it was the strongest station, but I consider it a wonderful part of my past as I look back over 55 years. Thanks for keeping John R alive.

  27. William "King Smoke" Robinson July 28th 7:15 pm

    I grew up listening to John R. and all the crew at WLAC. As a matter of fact it led to me becoming a dj at another 50,000 watt giant in Greenville SC, WHYZ 1070. I would love to get some of the air checks of John, Hoss, and the gang.

  28. Wow, What a treat to hear John R and the music again. It’s been so long. I feel privileged to have been a member his vast audience. I grew up in Perrysburg in north western Ohio. After dark when I was supposed to be sleeping I’d turn on the Zenith transistor and listen in awe of the music I couldn’t hear anywhere else and the voice that brought it to me. If weather conditions were that I couldn’t get WLAC then it was WLS in Chicago or WBZ in Boston. John R and WLAC were the go to though, the music was so much more real.
    Thanks to AirCheck for bring it all back.

  29. Ricky Johnson, Knoxville

    This sounds so very WONDERFUL !! Can remember playing my tiny transistor under the covers !! Best Music and programs ever !!!

  30. Terry Shenk

    I have this on a CD but its not this clear. I first heard John R, in the Army at Fort Eustis in Newport News Virginia in 1963. When I got out I went home to Lancaster County Pa. I think I was the biggest John R. fan of all time. I would listen sometimes till 5 AM when I had to get up at 6AM. I have most of the recurds. Lots of Sir Lattimore Brown, Roscoe Shelton, Roscoe Robinson Joe Simon The Queen of Sou8l Miss Ella Washington and many,many more.

  31. Paul Barco, Tacoma, Wa

    In the late 50’s St. Petersburg,Florida, I first heard WLAC/John R when the teenagers listened to late night R&B. This is way cool…brings back pleasant memories…Thanks very much !!!

  32. Larry Jackson

    I really enjoyed listening to John R. when I was a small child in the 60’s up until high school in the 70’s. Bring on more for fans to hear. This was very good stuff.

  33. Larry Jackson

    By the way I listened from Due West,South Carolina. My children enjoyed the airchexx,bring on more.

  34. Ray Colbert

    Boy, it is sure great to hear John R once again.
    A real treasure for sure. I used to listen to
    WLAC, John R, Hoss Allen, and the others where
    I lived in South Georgia. After going in the
    military and assigned overseas in Scotland, I
    was able to frequently hear WLAC and bring
    memories of home. Thanks for making this bit
    of youthful memories available to an old man(67).
    Ray Colbert,
    El Paso, Tx

  35. barry

    Man, I grew up in Rockingham, N.C. listening to John R. and Hoss Allen. I did not know these dudes were white until I was grown. I remember the ads for Queen Bergamot hair grease and those little baby chicks they used to sell. Of course, when you went to sleep listening to John R. playing the blues, you’d wake up to gospel music, since the station changed around 6 a.m.

  36. Joe

    Hi. Wanted to let you WLAC fans know I have a very cool piece of memorabilia from the station up on ebay right now.. It’s a little giveaway thread spool in a silver container which has embossed, “Everybody’s Friend Life and Casualty Insurance Co. of Tennessee | WLAC The Thrift Station”

  37. Charles ( Shot ) Harvey

    I thought John R voice was gone for good, it bring back so much memory for me. I think about my grandmother back then who pass on in 1967. please add some more of John R. I thought for years that he was black. WLAC was the only radio station that play black music. I can say one thing John R stil got soul

  38. Alex E Choinski

    Late at night in 1960 + a little, I found on the car radio a very unusual sound.
    John R from
    Nassshvillle Tennessee
    What a treat to find it again.

  39. Al Oxley

    Have mercy! Words cannot describe the feeling that came across when John R. did his thing. He just oozed soul no matter what he did on air whether doing commercials or presenting that great music. It would be tough to find another voice that offered such an immediate soulful tone. Of course, that voice coupled with the blues and deep soul sounds that he played created an environment like no other and touched this listener in Kalamazoo, MI. I’m still buying blues such as Jimmy Dawkins and soul such as Otis Clay, but sadly John R. is no longer around to play it for us on WLAC. But those who heard him in those dark hours will never forget.

  40. Brant Hart

    I received a transistor radio for Christmas in 1963. During the daytime I listened to WQOK(1440) in Greenville, SC, but at night I used to surf the dial to hear distant stations. John R was one of the DJs I enjoyed hearing. About 10 years later I bought one of the John R/WLAC albums on Excello. This one featured the original “Little Darlin’ ” by my friend Maurice Williams and his group The Gladiolas. I liked to play his version on my oldies show on WCAR Campus radio at UNC in Chapel Hill.

    Brant “The Hitman” Hart
    “WAYVO” 1150/1410
    Charlotte/Rock Hill/ Concord (NC/SC)

  41. john hall

    Good old John R and WLAC. Living in Holland, Lyerly,Summerville, and Rome,Ga. That was the only good music you could get in these area back in the day.Crused a lot of late nite listening to John R way down south in Nashville Tenn.

  42. I can get the popup to come up, but I can’t get it to play. What am I doing wrong?

    Signed, desperate for a John R. fix

  43. Linda Conner

    Hey – I grew up in Northwestern Ohio – and that is far from Nashville – but at night when many of the local, small town Ohio stations went off the air WLAC came in – not totally clear – but well enough to be heard. And, yes, on an OLD tube radio, it worked a lot better, wired to bedsprings.

    Used to listen to John R – he was on earliest – I don’t think I was even an official teenager yet, about 11 or 12 maybe. My friends were listening to it also; it was so DIFFERENT from anything we knew. The funniest thing is – I don’t think we realized this was black music – there were few blacks in this small town where I grew up – and my friends and I certainly didn’t know the artists they favored or what their tastes were. We simply knew this music was GOOD – and also it addressed subjects which were supposedly taboo for kids our age – irresistable!

    Nevertheless this surely formed the basis for my friends and I going “ape” over the beginnings of rock – I STILL listen to rock and tell people, it grew up with me, not I with it.

    Also reading bios of people like Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, Jim Morrison and so on – most of them listened to a similar clear channel station that played what was then called “race music” – and we see what effects that had.

  44. I was born in 1948 in southeastern Oklahoma (my dad was a jazz musician) and I used to listen to the John R. show late at night on my transistor radio after my parents assumed I was fast asleep. I will never forgot his usual lines like, “John R., coming to you from studio 10, brought to you by Royal Crown Hair dressing; just a touch means so much!”

    I live in Dallas now with my three children and I tell them all the time about those late nights as a child alone in my room with this guy John R. on WLAC in Nashville. Those vivd memories are an important and cherished part of who I became as an adult (which is a successfully oil painter who exhibits all over the U.S. and a jazz and blues connoisseur forever).

  45. Tom Muncey

    Hey….not all of the listeners were “black”….as Wikipedia might have said! I was just a poor, white country boy from West Virginia and was one of the biggest WLAC and John R fans in the whole USA!

    I remember listening for names like Ella Washington and Joe Simon and so many great singers….BUT with the DJs on WLAC, it was GREAT just to hear them talk….Even when they were selling things, it was like music to hear them speak.

    Wouldn’t it be great if they could do re-runs on the radio of those shows from the past?

    I’ve always heard it said that God gave us memories so we could have roses in the snow, but
    it sure would be great to tune in to WLAC now and hear those old programs.


    generation of black entertainers and listeners, and according to wikipedia, is partly responsible for the evolution of rock and roll’s emergence out of the blues from poverty stricken areas of the South.

  46. Brent "Showtime" Lloyd

    When WEAL 1510 AM, Greensboro NC(a great soul station) went off the air at sundown, WLAC could be heard. Man, late at night, all that great music played by John R, Hoss Allen, Gene Nobles and the other dj’s was absolutely the best radio had to offer. By the way, Hoss Allen did some promotional work for Reverend Isaih on a Greensboro radio station in the early ’90’s; it was great to hear the “Hossman” again. I do a blues radio show on WNAA 90.1 FM and occasionally play some clips from John R

  47. Linda Conner

    Hey, aren’t there any other women who listened to this WLAC programming? I was WAY in northern Ohio – usual story – it would come in just BARELY when local stations went off the air. I remember John R’s show very well – not the others so much – I was not even of “teenage years” as yet and was listening to the radio after I was supposed to be in bed asleep. The town I grew up in had very few black people, and my friends and I who were listening to John R. did not even realize this was music being performed by (and mostly for) black people. I am serious – at some point, somebody realized, or it grew on us, or whatever. We just knew it was something different and electrifying. (This is a twist on all the people who thought John R. WAS black – we just thought he was “Southern”) Anyway if you can believe the biographers it is perfectly true that a lot of rock musicians who became popular in the late 60s and 70s listened early on to John R and other DJs like him—and the British musicians (such as the Stones – I could early on recognize where a lot of THEIR influence came from) who got hold of the records somehow – the ones John R (and his fellow WLACers) had played. It is pleasant to run into this website, still occasionally being commented—-

  48. Ron Ford

    I just watched the new movie “Cadillac Records” about the history of the legendary Chess record label and it got me to thinking about WLAC and Randy’s Record Shop. I started listening to WLAC while attending Purdue University about 1959. It opened up a whole new world of music to me and I loved it all. Still do. Like someone else commented, I never gave much thought to whether John R. was black or white, I just thought of him as “Southern”. What fun this has been to listen to this broadcast! Thanks so very much to those of you responsible for making it available. Some of the double entendres about White Rose Petroleum Jelly were hilarious: “One in the glove compartment is worth two in the medicine cabinet!” My roommate and I spent much of what little money we had on beer and records from Randy’s. We also would walk about five miles fromm campus, across the Wabash River, and into Lafayette (Indiana) to a little hole in the wall shop that sold used jukebox records. They were just stacked on wood shelves, not sorted, and we would spend hours looking for a Jimmy Reed or Little Walter or Muddy Waters. Thanks for the memories.

  49. Dredsel

    In southeast Ga in the 50s and 60s everyone listened to John R. at night. WLAC and WCKY were about the only stations we could get at night. Many hours were spent parking or partying with John R. and the R&B music we loved. We always thought the DJs were black and it didn’t matter even though things were segregated back then. I want to thank you for your efforts to preserve this part of radio history.

  50. mollyoday

    I am another woman who grew up listening, like the guy who commented he listened late at night while his parents assumed he was fast asleep. When the station was coming in clearly I couldn’t make myself go to sleep. This was in a small town about 55 miles from Nashville — later, as an adult I moved to Nashville and was fortunate enough to meet and hear Earl Gaines and the recently deceased Ted Jarrett sing a song or two, two performers who often were played, and of course, Ted Jarrett produced many of the early R&B artists in Nashville. But I loved the DJs too! Listening to that station changed my life — I learned a lifelong appreciation of R&B, and then later, I loved and still love the rock steady version of reggae, which was based on this early R&B. I read somewhere — on liner notes for an early reggae recording I think — that WLAC’s signal made it all the way to Jamaica! It’s a part of Nashville history that a lot of people don’t really know about, or didn’t, until the “Night Train to Nashville” exhibit appeared at the Country Music Hall of Fame a few years ago. Great to hear WLAC again — thank you for this website!!

  51. As many of you know on the many stations I worked for almost 25 years JOHN R was one of my heroes. Many times I would include in one of my RAPS ( I was doing it before it had a name) little lines that the hip kittys in the audience would REALLY UNDERSTAND. Like “WAY DOWN SOUTH IN DIXIE” etc etc. By the way as far as I am concerned NIPSY RUSSELL was the very first rapper. I miss the REAL PERSONALITY PART of RockRadio. It’s just a machine now. STERILE,,BLAND,,ZERO

    • Carl walker

      I loved John R.from when I was a little boy in the early sixties. I did not know the year that he past. He will always be me favorite D.J. always yours,Carl Walker

      • I am 66yrs now,I remember listing to WLAC and John R. at night. I was about 10 or 11 years old at that time, I love to hear his Tarzan call.Wow what a beautiful memory of this station.I am so glad some one had the Hind Sight to keep this station,s radio broadcast.Wow I just blown away. Many thanks.

    • Carl walker

      I loved John R.from when I was a little boy in the early sixties. I did not know the year that he past. He will always be my favorite D.J. always yours,Carl Walker

  52. Jimmy Conner

    Sid, I agree!!
    John was “through” with it before alot of us knew what to “do” with it!!!
    One of my heros next to The late jesse Coopwood and “Tghe barron of Bounce”, Lucky Cordell and the Wvon good guys!!

  53. Jingles

    John R. and the Hossman were the greatest. I wish I had a C.D. with hours of their voices/radio shows instead of just hearing a few minutes of their programs that I have found on the internet. Hoss Allen’s voice is a haunting statement of our lives when he says ” well, it looks like time just caught up with us”. (I hope that I quoted him correctly). And another truth that he told-“don’t wait for the hurst, to take you to church.” Time is catching up with many of us and we’d better not “wait for the hurst, to take us to church”.

    • Margie

      On the INTERNET you say! where/how can i find it? watching the movie “cadillac records” makes me think of John R/Hossman. a coworker and i had talked about this show some time ago. i’m anxious and excited for your reply. Many thanks.

  54. When I was in Vietnam in 1970 my good buddy Larry Badon’s Sister would record WLAC and send him the tapes. We spent many a nite enjoying the sound of “the world”. Larry was an accomplished Base Guitarist, and he would play along with the music. This audio brings back a flood of memories.

  55. Dewey Vandiver

    John R was the “Greatest” DJ to ever live and was also a Great person, I know because I was under contract to John R for a number of years as a Producer for Charles Smith & Jeff Cooper (“Ashes To Ashes”), this was for his Seventy Seven Record Label. John was always positive about life, but was as nervous as a cat the last week he was at WLAC. All I can say is “John R The Greatest Of All Time”

  56. Doug Hadley

    I was in the air force in the early 60s,station at Albrook in Panama Canal Zone.On clear nights we could recevie John Rs broadcast . We sure looked forward to it.

    • Hi.Doug can any one buy any D.C,s off the old show of john the hoss man allen /if fine out anything plese emall me.thank you Tom

    • I used to listen to WLAC from Arcadia,Louisiana. Wow most beautiful memories,almost make me want to cry because both of my deceased parents loved to listen to this station too.God bless the people who kept this station,s radio broadcast. Many thanks.

  57. doowoprobert

    I cherished the memories of listening to John R on 1510 AM radio out of Nashville in the late 50’s and early 60’s…A few of my close friends also listened to him, especially on the weekends…Late at night, I’d hook the TV antenna up to the back of the radio, and the station came in “clear as a bell!”..I can still hear John R’s voice saying, “want a good record, buy this one from Randy’s Record Market, 1707 Chruch St., Nashville, TN…or was it Galviston, TN..either way, we purchased a lot of music from the record market…some were on 78 RMP, other packages of 45’s….what a performer…he might be gone to that “DJ Place in the Sky”, but he’s still in my memory, ears and mind…God bless John R….

  58. David Baugh

    Television stations use to sign off around midnight and there were only three of them back then. Radio was the only other good entertainment we had. I grew up in Nashville and listened to John R at night. What a great radio voice he had. WLAC had a treasure but didn’t know it. I have one record on the Rich label which was one of John R’s record labels. It is by Franke Jolley and the songs are Joanna and Misery. Misery was written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. This came out on John’s label before The Beatles were famous. Thanks so much for the John R program sample. It is the best I’ve heard since he left radio. John R will live on in our hearts and memories for ever.

  59. Gloria Spencer

    I was thinking about John R. with fond memories and decided to see if there was any mention of him on the internet. And Wow! what a get surprise. I remember listening to him on my 9 transistor radio at night under the covers. I actually fell in love with him through his voice. I, too, bought many records from Randy’s. He was the best. We had such limited choice in the 50’s and 60’s and he filled a very special need during that time. God bless him and may his memory last forever.

  60. Rocco411

    Thanks for the great John R memories. I used to listen to him regularly. Randy’s Record Shop has been mentioned in some previous posts, but Randy Wood parlayed that little appliance/record shop in Gallatin into a world wide entertainment behemoth, Dot Records.

  61. kassy

    Living in the South where we did not have a R&B station, it was a pleasure to grab whatever soul music we could from listening to John R. It depended on which way the wind was blowing, sometimes it would come in good and then it would fade out, but we hung in there and grabbed what we could each and every night. We would go to sleep listening to John R. on our transistor radio. The one thing I had in my favor was that my uncle owned a little country junk joint which we called the Shop and he would get all the records on this thing that you put 5cents in it to hear your favorite record. This was during the early 1960’s. It wans’t until about 10 years ago that I found out that this was a white man. All along I thought he was black. Enjoyed his show!!!!!!!!!!

  62. Above David Baugh makes mention of the record I made for John R’s record label. John was a dear friend of mine and we spent many hours talking about r&b music. What is little known is that John R was actually offered the job at WINS 1010 before they offered it to Alan Freed. John said he couldn’t accept a 13 week contract and the deal was off. WLAC in Nashville was just around the corner from WMAK where I worked. I got off the air at 1 A.M and just in time to take coffee to John R who’d just started Program Ten at 1 o’clock in the morning. By the way folks John R didn’t host Randys Record Mart Show Gen Nobles did. John R hosted Ernies record Parade 179 3rd avenue Galatin Ten. There’s a cd on the market titled “John R hand-notes and Program Ten”. Look for it on eBay.

    • Tom Muncey

      Hey Frank!

      Thanks for the tip on “John R hand-notes and Program Ten!” I’m going to search for it now!

      Back in the day, I listened to WLAC every night….all through college and then in my Navy days as I traveled up and down the East Coast.

      What a treasure! How sad the WLAC is a News station now….but John R will live in my memory forever!
      Thanks again.

    • Barry Kirby

      Frank, can not believe I found you and although you may not remember me I do you. I’m John’ s son. (Well step-son, Margaret his wife was my mother. He raised me from the age of 7 so he has always been considered my father.)
      There is a documentary in productionon about John’s life at WLAC. Would love to speak with you. we have been searching for Don Whitehead, Jackie Beavers, and Mike Donavan but so far no luck and lots of dead ends. Mom had a lot of those addresses and phone numbers but lost it all when Nashville got flooded a few years ago. Mom passed 3 years ago and before this went into production.
      Please call me. (615) 319-9720
      Thanking you in advance,


    John R and Hoss Allen, 15 LAC clear channel AM, as a youngster in KKK country 45 mins from Nashville, we relied on them to deliver pride and performance that was our Black POWER, later to find they a couple of white guys, help temper racial tolerance for me, never ever judge a book by it’s cover…In the 80’s I worked Nasville radio including bringing on the air the first afternoon urban show on Fm, guess who was my original inspiration…long live the memory of these radio pioneers, my childhood Soul connection!!

    • Joe Cobb Crawford

      Do you rember the name of the hair products that were advertised on John R’s program during the early 60s?

      • Ivan

        Royal Crown hair tonic with oil of bergamont.

  64. Joe Cobb Crawford

    John R and WLAC are honored in the introduction to my soon to be released novel entitled “The Poetry Company: Memoirs of A Chicken Catcher”. Check it out in a couple of weeks at // Here’s the Intro.

    John Arrah

    As a kid traveling at night in a smoke filled panel truck I recall listening to John R. In the early morning hours his gravelly, thick voice ruled the radio airways in north Georgia, Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Alabama. The wolf-man (Wolf-man Jack) or The Grande Ole Opry would also sometimes sneak in. Our AM radio, usually tuned to John R. and a perpetual poker game kept us all entertained. Before midnight we listened to Tommy Jet’s “Jet Fly” program out of Chattanooga. But it seemed that John R. was with us most of the time in that old panel truck. Somehow radio waves from his station, WLAC in Nashville, reached every twisted country road no matter how buried we were in the folds of those quiet majestic mountains. We were all chicken catchers and I was the youngest and John R. was our listening pleasure of choice.

    John R. pronounced his name as “John Arrah”. We assumed he was a black DJ. The lead-in jingle to songs he played went…

    “Hey John Arrah,
    What’s you gonna do?
    Come on John Arrah,
    Play us some… rhythm and blues”.

    Lyrics heard in the songs played by John R. were slow and clear and usually repetitious but they spoke to the hearts of my chicken catcher buddies, a rough crowd of ex-cons, drunks, troubled youths, and other misfits. I was too young to understand fully the meaning of the lyrics but I sure dug the beat. Later in the sixties I learned the genre was called soul music. The ones who preferred country music despised it and called it N***** Music. I was also shocked later to learn that John R. was actually a white man. Back then, like most white southerners from “whites only” towns we were willfully ignorant of black people. We listened to John R’s songs in the early morning hours of the late 50’s and forgot about our destiny. We were made to feel better about our dirty, smelly job of loading a chicken truck with squawking chickens before sun-up. Thank you John Arrah, WLAC and Randy’s Record Shop of Gallatin, Tennessee for telling us with your music what our closed culture and words failed to!

    Joe Cobb Crawford
    Chicken Catcher Name: “Little Joe”

    • Patricia R.Lewis

      Just a note to let you know I have this Airchexx as one of my Favorites on my PC so when I want to listen to John R. on 1510 WLAC Nashville I can pull it out and listen and travel back down memory lane, I also set it up so I get emails when someone post a new comment I always go back and reread all the comments I really like reading yours I remember when I first read your comment i thought”This guy should write a book”! I was spot on. Good Luck with your Novel.

      Patricia R. Lewis

      • Patricia,
        Thanks Patricia. Glad you enjoyed my writings. I took your advice and wrote two more books. Like The Poetry Comapany:Memoirs of a Chicken Catcher, the setting and the characters for my books are from 50 years ago in the southeast. Guess I’m just “Stuck In The 50s”.

        • Patricia R.Lewis

          Tell me about it, it’s just my opinion but I think the older we become the more regressive we get(I just made 62 March the 26th) and all my focus is on the late 50’s and 60’s that’s all I think about my best experiences and all the fun that came for me was from that era and I’m never going to get back.
          Then sing,ye Birds, sing, sing a joyous song! And let the young Lambs bound. As to the tabor’s sound! We in thought will join your throng, Ye that pipe and ye that play, Ye that through your hearts today Feel the gladness of the May! What though the radiance which was once so bright Be now forever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour Of splendor in grass, of glory in the flower; We will grieve not,rather find Strenght in what remains behind; ODE: Intimations Of Immortality William Wordsworth.

  65. Chuck White

    Memory EXPLOSION! In the late 50s I listened to John R on my little Motorola transistor under the covers in the middle of the night right outside of Gary, IN. Thanx for a real thrilling memory during a time when there isn’t a lot of thrills left.
    Chuck White

    • jerryjames

      Hello memories,through tears of joy I am writing to state that as a young southern boy out of Arkansas (Hot Springs) i enjoyed the night for many years with the transistor radio,9-volt battery, and single-ear ear bud; how magical the nights were, I felt I was whisked away from the craziness I couldn’t understand to a place I liked by a man who understood what I was going thru. Thank you John R for helping to shape me to be the man I have become.

  66. Dick Brown

    In the 50’s and 60’s, when I came home from a date, around 12 midnight, I could pick up the Big John R Show on WLAC on the AM radio in my bedroom and would listen to it for three or four hours. I love blues and John R knew how to play it. I can remember songs like “Raining in my heart” by Bobby Blue Bland. I’m a white boy, but I was hung up on blues, even to this day at 67 yrs. old. Thanks for those days….

  67. Dick Brown

    I just forgot to mention that I’m from Hartsville,South Carolina. I now live in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We have a dance here called the Shag. We dance to blues. Thank You WLAC for all the wonderful years…

  68. Steve West

    “Dancin’, Shaggin on the Boulevard” – Alabama wrote that song, and it always made me think of Myrtle Beach. I lived down in the Charleston area for a while from 1990-93 and yes, Shagging is a huge dance there. But, I digress…

  69. GRIFF


  70. randy roins

    in the early fifties wlac was my favorite radio station.i loved john r and big hue baby and all the others gene nobles hoss man and even good ole wayne raney.when i was 18 i got my first job on the air in tyler texas and called myself the big r aka randy robins.that was my tribute to john r and big hue baby.i have an autographed picture of john r and its to the big r from john old buddy bob a lou got than handled for his soul.

  71. Lyle

    Thank you for making this available. I heard about John R but never heard a show until now. Great show, and the music is still good. Many of the songs and artists were not familiar to me, so I thought I would list them below (sorry for any mistakes):
    Little Eddie, “There’ll Come a Day You’ll Be Glad To Have Me Around”
    Valentines, “If You Love Me”
    Geater Davis, “Sweet Woman’s Love”
    Little Charles & The Sidewinders, “You Are a Blessing”
    Matt & Robert (?), “Pride & Joy”
    Margie Joseph, “Punish Me”
    Jackie Jason, “World’s Coming to a Start”
    Little Sonny (?), “Wade In The Water”
    Eddie Floyd, “The Best Years of My Life”
    Lavinia Lewis, “Your Love Is All Over Me”
    Dan Penn, “Prayer for Peace”
    Jackie Lee, “Your Sweetness Is My Weakness”
    Pick & Bill (?), “Over the Mountain”
    Otis Clay, “Hard Working Woman”
    Satisfactions, “One Light, Two Lights”

  72. Jerry

    Oh my god!! I love it, this site just took me back about 50 years, WOW! those were the good days as I lived in rural South East Alabama, every night we listened to this station. These guys were black guys in white bodies. I remember one night, this totally is no lie. I was in Pnoenix Arizona after I joined the USAF, it was early one morning, we were out in the desert in our lovers lane LOL, I guess the wind and the atmosphere were all at thier peak and I recieved WLAC, I though I had died and gone to heaven. If you have experienced it you have missed soooooo much.

  73. CC

    Thank you John R for opening eyes with your magnificent voice for people like the chickencatcher…I applaud you ‘Little Joe”. This is dedicated to the fab 50’s and 60’s generation.I’m sure all from the Southeast U.S can relate. What a wonderful site. RIP John R

  74. georgiafatwood

    I’m working on a memoir about this music that was “as constant as the north star”…and I would like to be part of this conversation. What a wonderful discovery! Thank you…I have found both Jack McDuff and Cab Calloway versions of “The Honeydripper” that was the theme song for one of the time slots. Neither rendition seems to be “right”…Any suggestions?

  75. I found John R. on clear channel from Iowa when I went out there in 1963 to go to the Iowa Writers Workshop. He was the greatest of all time. If anyone has any John R or HossMan airchecks to share, I’d be most grateful.

    The classic version of Honeydripper was by Joe Liggins.

  76. From a friend

    A few years ago my girl friend was interviewing our friend Po Henry Dorsey, a black delta blues singer now in his 80s, who plays in a duo with Tookie, a white harmonica player. Henry has a great voice and does a lot of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, and Lightnin Hopkins material, among others.

    His father was a sharecropper who played and sang. Asked about his early musical exposure, he replied, “John R.”

  77. Richard

    John R introducd me to some of my favorite singers whom I didnt hear on Top 40 radio-Ella Washington, Rozetta Johnson, Ann Sexton, Alder Ray Black to name a few. Before Joe Simon and The Manhattans made it to big time, they were new to my Friends but not to me because I heard them first from John R.

    Thank you John R

  78. Ed B.

    I’m white, born and raised in Nashville, and as a teenager in In the mid 50s I went to sleep every night listening to WLAC and loved it. Randy’s Record Shop, Jimmy Reed, Howlin Wolf, Muddy Waters, Lightnin Slim, Royal Crown Hair Conditioner, The White Rose Petroleum Jelly Hour . . .

    It was like old times listening to Big John R. again. Thanks!!

  79. As a child growing up in the south in the 50s black people did not a station,only station we had was WLAC John R,i lived in a small town in Georgia near Athen,Ga because of the music John R would play i became an entertainer iam in my 43 year still going strong thanks to the good Lord.and WLAC John R & Randy’s Record Shop.

  80. Tom Miles

    Can we buy any cd of John R .any were?

  81. Francis

    I remember listening to John R and the Hoss Man growing up in South Carolina. Our family had a Channel Master radio and I never missed their shows. Wish I could get a CD of their shows.

  82. Abrom

    Oh how I remember John R and each late night, the soulful sound of this white man ,that said to me all people is the same and the way the white folk treated blacks were because they couldn’t hear the sound that sprung from deep within us all , but J R sound would change the south with his six pack 45 sets,He play songs of joy and love, peace and hope, He always kept the night cawler connected to the church and God,now am older and been all over the world, fought in three wars and killed all kinda people,left by seed in Germany and Korea with women I promised I would always remember have an LP collection that tell the whole story many brought from Randy Record Market, Nashville Tn.My player won’t play them as the older play do but am thankful the Internet and my momeries bless you all for we came a long ways from a time we miss so

  83. Ed

    I also remember John R and the Hoss Man growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s in the Piedmont region of North Carolina. Brings back good memories. Thank you.

  84. Patricia R. Lewis

    Transistor Radio 9-volt battery was my best friend in Jr.High and High School class of 69″ (South Bend Indiana) and all my friends too that had Transistors and we all listen to WLAC at night couldn’t wait for late night to come so we could listen and then at school we would talk about the music we heard on WLAC “Randy” that Name was talked about a lot! I remember when i found out he was White WOW! 🙂 i guess i was the only Colored Girl that didn’t know it, and i loved to babysit WLAC kept me company late at night when i babysat those were the days things were very UGLY back then but, in spite of it all i was still happy and know WLAC played a part in my HAPPINESS! being a teenager was soooo COOL i was born for such a time as this.

  85. Mary Mack Leonard

    What a romp down memory lane. John R, Big Hugh Baby, the Randy Record Shop– defining moments of my teenage years in Mississippi circa 1962, 63 and 64. My radio melted in bed under the covers listening to that husky voice and loving the sounds of Bobby Bland and others. I never got into Rock but have always loved R&B thanks to the early imprinting from John R and the guys at WLAC. Wish we could still tune in and hear those voices pushing Royal Crown and White Rose. Thanks for the link to some happy memories.

  86. Rich Maples

    My gosh what memories. I grew up in Marianna, Arkansas, 50 miles down river from Memphis, during the late ’50’s and early ’60s. I’m white, but I grew up in a mostly black neighberhood and was exposed to blues at an early age. Because of family problems, I spent much of my early teens on the street. Lord, what would I have done without my Channel Master radio and the company of those jocks on WLAC?

  87. Wrangle Rob

    Wow! Love it. What was the country song.something about John R & The Wolfman, Primo

  88. Leon Wilson

    I fell asleep many a nights listening to WLAC in the fifties. Granny didn’t want my
    sister and I to listen, but we sneaked the radio in bed with the volumn down low and
    really appreciated those great sounds that
    would sometimes fade in and out. Love it all.

  89. Arthur

    I read all the comments and I certainly can identify with a lot of them. I too would put my transistor radio in bed and listen to WLAC. I turned 15 in the mid sixties and those love songs, played by all those great DJs, Hoss Allen, Gene Nobles and John R had special meanings. My parents would listen and order those gospel specials. Thanks so very much gentlmen you made WLAC a household tradition.You are missed, after all these years, YOU ARE MISSED.

  90. John R was the only nightime R&B I could get as a teenager. My two R & B stations were KATZ and KXLW in St Louis but they were daytime only stations (remember those?. When they went off at night WLAC was what we tuned to. (see more at //

  91. Jack Hayward

    I used to listen WLAC late at night on a “skip” from Tallahassee, Fla. Thanks so much to John R. the the Hoss Man for turning me onto a world of music that I have cherished my whole life. I am so much richer for the experience.

  92. David

    I don’t know if there’s a character limit, but maybe the computer won’t act up this time (if that’s what happened). Anyway, David Baugh, I don’t know if you mean networks or if you mean TV stations where you grew up(and there definitely were three of the former at one time), but here in the New York City area, it was the area’s major public-TV station that signed off exactly AT midnight. (The city’s two minor public-TV channels–one owned by

  93. David

    the city’s public-school system, the other by the city itself–signed off somewhat earlier, as did, later, New Jersey’s then-new[and now defunct]public-TV network[in the case of where I grew up, that network’s North Jersey channel and [a slightly less clear signal of] one of its two Central Jersey channels. Oh, so did the two relatively-new Spanish channels and the even newer English-language station from Newark, NJ.) The other NYC TV channels signed off at 1-1:30 if not, ohhh, an hour or two later *when* **I** was coming up. But one thing’s for sure, WLAC and its nighttime R&B format was a part of a lot of lives and was a template for not only R&B radio, but also rock’n’roll (in the general-market sense) radio. And that includes the pop/adult (now adult contemporary) format.

    • David

      One of the two Spanish channels, by the way, broadcasted out of Paterson, NJ, while the other operated out of Newark–and licensed to both nearby Linden, NJ AND Newark. (The former is still licensed to Paterson, and the latter is, IINM, now licensed to just Linden.)

  94. David

    And an obscure R&B song written by Lennon and McCartney before their band became famous in the U.S? Del Shannon’s pop-rock hit “From Me To You” had to be more famous than that! AND TO THINK!, NOT ONLY DID JOHN LENNON AND PAUL McCARTNEY WRITE THAT, AS WELL, BUT SHANNON’S VERSION ***ALSO***!!! preceded the Beatles’ string of hits on the American charts!

  95. Sam

    I grew up to the night time music of the Great John R, I never knew that he was originally from the same area in SC that I am from. I also thought he was African American, until just now as I started researching WLAC and found that he was Euro-American. I looked forward to those nights when he was on. He would tell it like it was, didn’t hold back anything other than his identity, which wasn’t important because I loved the music, style and format. I remember picking up WLAC in early 1982 down in Orlando, FL. That was just obsolutely amazing to me then. As we all knew, FM radio was still up and coming. So, the small transistor and car radios were the big time of the south.
    I even ordered from some of his advertisers.
    I don’t know if there could ever be another radio station as great as the original WLAC 15.10 AM
    I guess you could say that John R, was actually a pioneer of R & B music, because DJs that followed could only immitate his style, but never duplicate “The Great John R.”

  96. Frank Price Hall

    I used to listen to John R’s program every weeknight after I went to bed until I went to sleep, back in the late 50’s and early 60’s. If you loved the blues, it was the only program that played it non-stop. Don’t doubt that it had big influence on the music and artists.

  97. Frank

    Had no idea John R was a white guy, but he sure had a lot of soul. I listened to his and hoss’ program every night for years in the early 60’s. They literally put me to sleep many nights, and the delta blues and R&B they played was fantastic. If there’s a DJ on the other side, I’m sure John R is filling that role.

  98. Jim

    In 1959 I was a 13 year old Jewish kid in Michigan and for a Bar Mitzoh present I got a brand new Sony transistor radio, the kind that could fit in your shirt pocket. Late at night when everyone was asleep, under my pillow I fine tuned my Sony and discovered WLAC Radio, John R and the rest of the crew. From that moment on, it changed my life and to this day, I’m an R & B fanatic.

  99. Mike Mangum

    Oh, man! I’m now 57, but as a kid back in the 60’s and 70’s, in the small town of Creedmoor, NC (15 & 20 mi north of Raleigh & Durham, respectively) all us black folks had was WSRC(Durham) & WLLE(Raleigh) during the day. So, when I discovered WLAC one night, I, along with my sisters and my Mama, were hooked! Sometimes the ststion would fade in and out but it was usually clear enough to enjoy John R and the other top DJs spinning those hot blues numbers late at nite. And, here I am, 40+ years later, and a little voice told me to search for WLAC ARCHIVES on my laptop. Thank God, I did! And, thank you!

  100. ciclo

    If I may please quote John Richbourg, he was John R ah. Listening to John Lee Hooker tonight puts it all back into me, into my soul.

  101. ciclo

    Reading through the comments here, everyone heard the “Hossman, Bill Allen” then “John R ah.”
    And, almost all of is listened on little transistor radios. I went to sleep in Knoxville with their wonderful shows.

  102. john walker

    back in the 70,s best that I can remember on randy,s show some talk lyrics im a master lover baby the best under the sun I love them and leave them cause I hit and run. that’s all I can remember

  103. Charles Freeman jr.

    Randy’s Record Mart……Gallatin, Tennesse….The “Hoss Man…John R….Spiderman Harris….These were the names of “Fame” imprinted on my young mind, during my familiy’s travel, during the late..late night hours, between Illinois to Alabama….West Virginia to North Carolina. They were the “ONLY” touches of R&B in some sparse sections of america during the 60’s-70’s. Thank you for being there.

    • Virgil Baldon Jr.

      Yep…when I was in the USAF during the early 1970s, it was WLAC if you were in the East, and XEG Monterrey, Mexico (English-language Soul from LA) in the Plains and Southwest. Excellent music and jocks, both stations!

  104. Marty Jourard

    Oh yeah. I only realized many years later that these DJs were white…the playlist and their voices made be believe this was a black R&B station. We musicians in North Central Florida (Gainesville) listened to this station at night, it would drift in and out of signal, making it even more exotic. Bo Diddley, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King…what a great radio station and what great music…hugely influential on the music scene in Gainesville…

  105. Karl Phillips

    I was born in Nashville in 1950 and lived there until I reached the age of 16. I would bump into WLAC at 1510 going down to 1240 to listen to WKDA but I would stop sometimes to listen to John R. He was BIG throughout the nation as 1510’s signal would carry at night. There is no telling how many people he influenced into radio !!!

  106. TraceTheAce

    John plays ‘the new one by Eddie Floyd-The Best Years Of My Life” which was released in 1970. It hit 118 on the U.S. Pop charts and 29 on the U.S. R&B charts.

  107. The Mystery Man

    I have the original STAX 45rpm Eddie Floyd – “The Best Years of My Life” written by Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper.
    The date on the 45 is September 1970. John R. sez “it’s brand new” so that gets the date of this aircheck pretty close.

  108. Great find — this was before my time but an interesting listen to WLAC prior to its change to its current incarnation as a news/talker. Always great to hear vintage Nashville radio recordings.

  109. John

    Thanks to you & Jack for a great slice of history. Program 10 was all the times when John R was not broadcasting for Ernie’s Record Mart. Nobody knows of the origin for him calling it that, but he used it for years. During Program 10 time he would do spots selling everything from Bibles & baby chicks to corn remedy for those “aching feet”. John R was the best !

  110. As a kid traveling at night in a smoke filled panel truck I recall listening to John R. In the early morning hours his gravelly, thick voice ruled the radio airways in north Georgia, Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Alabama. The wolf-man (Wolf-man Jack) or The Grande Ole Opry would also sometimes sneak in. Our AM radio, usually tuned to John R. and a perpetual poker game kept us all entertained. Before midnight we listened to Tommy Jet’s “Jet Fly” program out of Chattanooga. But it seemed that John R. was with us most of the time in that old panel truck. Somehow radio waves from his station, WLAC in Nashville, reached every twisted country road no matter how buried we were in the folds of those quiet majestic mountains. We were all chicken catchers and I was the youngest and John R. was our listening pleasure of choice.

    John R. pronounced his name as “John Arrah”. We assumed he was a black DJ. The lead-in jingle to songs he played went…

    “Hey John Arrah,
    What’s you gonna do?
    Come on John Arrah,
    Play us some… rhythm and blues”.

    Lyrics heard in the songs played by John R. were slow and clear and usually repetitious but they spoke to the hearts of my chicken catcher buddies, a rough crowd of ex-cons, drunks, troubled youths, and other misfits. I was too young to understand fully the meaning of the lyrics but I sure dug the beat. Later in the sixties I learned the genre was called soul music. The ones who preferred country music despised it and called it N***** Music. I was also shocked later to learn that John R. was actually a white man. Back then, like most white southerners from “whites only” towns we were willfully ignorant of black people. We listened to John R’s songs in the early morning hours of the late 50′s and forgot about our destiny. We were made to feel better about our dirty, smelly job of loading a chicken truck with squawking chickens before sun-up. Thank you John Arrah, WLAC and Randy’s Record Shop of Gallatin, Tennessee for telling us with your music what our closed culture and words failed to!

    Joe Cobb Crawford- Author, The Poetry Company: Memoirs of a Chicken Catcher.
    Chicken Catcher Name: “Little Joe”

  111. Saul Schildhorn

    WLAC did not beam north and it was difficult to pick up the signal in Philadelphia until late at night, but sometimes with a south wind, I could get the signal and John R’s show. In the winter at 5 p.m. it was CBS news on the hour and standards or talk until 8 p.m. when the format switched to R&B. i remember John R doing the news with his intro: This is John R your star reporter.

  112. Mike H

    John R had the best voice. Wish there was a soul station that good on the air today!

    • Virgil Baldon Jr.

      You, me, and about 10 million others, Mike H.! I grew up in Louisville, and we were fortunate to have a daytime all-soul station (WLOU). But, when sunset hit and ‘The LOU’ signed off, we’d wait for 9 pm Eastern time and WLAC’s switch to soul and gospel music until around 4 am ET. John R., The Hossman, Gene Nobles, Don Whitehead’s News…LEGENDS!!

  113. Gman

    I’m not REALLY sure – but as an old radio guy myself, I believe Program 10 came from the way it was listed on the station log as the 10th program of the day. Also, when John R would say he’d be “back in 20” he meant 20 hours til his program time the next day.

  114. moody scott

    i am so proud to have known this iconic American broadcast legend john who help to shape my recording career in early soul music he produced my record busting out of the ghetto which was released in 1969 on his monument sound stage seven record lable i recorded a total of 12 songs with john r some of which today is considered as rare collector soul music items sort after world wide by die hard avid soul music collectors.john r was truly an awesome person may he rest in peace his early contribution to r&b music will linger for many years to come in historical soul music during this classic era of r&b soul music

    • Mike H

      Moody, thank you so much for reminding us about those great soul songs of yours! I particularly like “A Man In Need” and of course “Out of the Ghetto.” I had not realized John R produced those cuts. Anyone reading this who’d like to hear some of Moody’s great songs, simply Google his name, click on the links, sit back & enjoy!

  115. I am 65 and talk about John R all the times with my friends. So glad I looked him up. I am listening to the recording now. Loved the jingled that always played when introducing him. I live in Aliceville, Al. couple hundred miles from Nashville. I always thought he was a Black man, but boy did I get fooled later on in life. lol Loved the music he played!! RIP John R!!!!!!

  116. B D Kirby

    Program 10 was so named because the show featured the 10 records John was “pushing” on that particular program. How do I know this – John raised me. Look for the upcoming documentary of his life and times at WLAC.

    • Mike H

      Thanks for the info, BD. Do you have any further info about the documentary you mention. I would certainly want to see it.

  117. W. J.

    I listened to John R.’s show in the ’60s and have been looking for a site like this that played the shows. I was in Indiana and could pick up WLAC late at night. I didn’t get much sleep in my high school years! Being a guitar player, I was influenced by the guitarists I heard on his show, like B.B. King. This brings back fond memories.

  118. Margarita

    Where can I submit a picture with the station logo?

  119. Virgil Baldon Jr.

    An old WLAC Coverage Map I saw somewhere here on the net showed the station’s AM pattern like a 3-leaf clover with the single leaf (pattern lobe) running due North into Louisville, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, etc. The rest of the pattern was pretty well let out, non-directional to the East and West of Nashville. There was a slight choke to the South, apparently to protect Carribbean NARBA (radio treaty which USA signed in 1941) national stations. The weakest WLAC reception would’ve been NE and NW of Music City….John R’s signal roared strong here in Louisville!

    • Virgil Baldon, Jr.

      Note to the above post by me: Was referring to their NIGHTTIME pattern with 3 towers. For daytime WLAC used/uses a one-tower, circular pattern. This amount of nighttime directionality in an AM Class A station is unusual.

  120. Patricia R Lewis

    There is something going on with the baby boomers right now, there is a stirring in our hearts and minds for what was, I’m consistently amazed at all the folk that are being lead to this site! what does that tell you? we miss the radio station WLAC and the on air personality.

  121. John Kieffer

    Shortly before John R’s passing three really enjoyable cassettes were made available directly from
    him: ‘Radio programs as broadcast by well known WLAC D.J. and recorded simultaneously as airchecks. 90 minutes of radio history presented by John R.’

    They were a mix interviews with artists (Percy Sledge etc) ‘Blue Plate Specials’ of record releases, and advertisements spoken by John R. (for “live baby chicks delivered to your door”, Royal Crown hair dressing, scalp conditioners, The Soul Book, record stores, petroleum jelly, soul medallions etc)

    • harris16464

      I would really love to hear those John R air checks, if anyone has an MP3 of those recordings, please let me know

      • John Kieffer

        Hello – I think I may have mp3 copies of the cassettes on an old hard drive somewhere. I’m pretty sure that the recording here is the same as a side of one of the cassettes although it’s been a long time since I listened to them. Bear with me though – it may take a little while to dig out the mp3s and/or the cassettes …
        This is what the cassettes looked like //

  122. harris16464

    Thanks for responding to my request John. If/when you find them, please let me know and I’ll give you my email address so you can send them. Much appreciated!

  123. george royster

    I was born in oak ridge tennessee in 1950……but I could tune in john r there and probably get as good as reception as you

  124. Mark Johns

    I’ve always been hooked on radio & got to earn my living playing records on the radio for 17 years. As a teenager, I strung my own antenna in East Texas to pull in WNOE New Orleans (CC Courtney), KOMA Oklahoma City (Jim, WLS Chicago (Ron Riley & Art Roberts) and WLAC (John R). These men were my inspirations & influences. I always thought John R was black. I loved him and the music he played. Great to find so many other John R fans on here. FYI, in 1968-69 I did all-nights on 50,000 watt KOMA 1520 in OklaKOMA City, a major thrill in my life. Great memories.

    • Honored to have you here. Those days are long gone and it’s too bad today’s young people will never understand the thrill of catching an AM signal every night and making a hobby of it. Or the feeling of making a special antenna just so they can hear their favorite station or deejay, and hearing mom complain about creating a lightning rod!!! (I still do that!!)

  125. John Kieffer

    Hi – found the cassettes and the time to transfer them digitally. Six 30-40 minute extracts from shows. They sound pretty good. Let me know your email address and I’ll find a way of getting them to you.

  126. Mike Harris

    If you ever find the mp3 of those cassette recordings, please let me know! Thanks!

  127. mike mangan

    The Legendary JOHN R.Way down south in DIXIE at WLAC 1510 AM from The late 1940,s thru the mid 1970,s JOHN R<entertained The Beach Music Capitol of The World .Ocean Drive Beach,South Carolina playing Great R & B that covered the Grand Strand.As a seven year old in 1955 I began listening to John R,in 1955.Great Music ,Incredible Live commercials from the late John R.WAY DOWN SOUTH IN DIXIE at WLAC 1510AM in NASHVILLE.

  128. Jane Crosby

    Back in the 60’s I Loved listening to John R way down in the very southwest corner of GA. Could only get it at night The only station that played the soul/R&B musiciloved then and still love it now.

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