Alley Pat

This media reach-around may set a personal record:  I’m blogging about a TV story about a film about an Atlanta radio personality.  The film is called Alley Pat:  The Music is Recorded.  The filmmaker is Tom Roche, a Crawford Communications postproduction wizard.  The TV story aired on WXIA Wednesday.

The story is about Alley Pat, a trailblazer who was at WERD-AM when it went on the air in October 1949.  WERD was America’s first black-owned radio station (though WDIA Memphis was the first formatted for an African American audience, it was owned by white folks).  Alley Pat was hilarious and hilariously inappropriate.   He gave his audience hell.  He also gave his sponsors hell, on the air.  “They loved it,” Patrick told me.  His fifty-plus years on radio apparently confirms that.

His eulogy of his best friend, Rev. Hosea Williams, was classic.  His best off-camera crack with me was:  “I told Hosea that if he ever quit drinking, he’d die.  And that’s what happened.”

Almost as interesting is the story of Roche,  and his fascination with Alley Pat as a young, white newcomer to Atlanta in the early 80s.  Roche writes an entertaining first-hand account in this month’s Stomp and Stammer.

  • The new documentary, Alley Pat: The Music is Recorded, had its simple beginnings as a shoebox full of old cassettes. When I came to town in 1983, I’d sit stuck in Atlanta traffic listening to Pat, then on WYZE 1380 AM, practically crying with laughter…  But I was frustrated that this brilliant, fun, raucously good radio was going out into the ether, and was gone forever. New to town, I was too broke to even buy blank tape to try to hold on to his shows. So I would go to the Peaches and Turtles 99-cent cassette bargain bins and try to find awful double length albums – Best of Pat Boone, say – for a buck to record over with Alley Pat’s insanity.

Roche has many claims to fame.   Among them:  He was the editor on Space Ghost Coast to Coast, the first in-house cartoon on Atlanta’s Cartoon Network.  You can see him below in the “Space Ghost Utility Research Kitchen.”

Though there’s no evidence of it here, Roche always claimed that I misspelled his name on the super in this 1997 story.

Alley Pat:  The Music is Recorded is a damned amusing look at an Atlanta original.   It’s playing at 7pm Saturday at the Landmark Midtown Art Theatre on Monroe Drive, across from Grady Stadium.

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About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

10 thoughts on “Alley Pat

  1. Deanna

    Thanks for this. I’d seen Ally Pat on public access (or was it Channel 36 back in the day?) and figured there had to be a story behind that man. I had no idea he had SO much Atlanta history in that story.

    Reply
    1. Ronnie Burell

      Hello Jimmy,

      Yes he did and his show was called (Alley Pat’s Place) which aired every Sunday night at 12 midnight on WVEU TV69 until about 1994 when Viacom bought it from Broadcast Corporation of Georgia, and I know this to be true because I was one of his directors. Though for many years a guy named Dana Weed was his main director, and Alley is truly a great man and was always fair to everyone who came on his show. He didn’t cut anyone any slack, and always told it like it was. Hosea Williams was on his show many times just as Andrew Young, and both are really a great people as well.

      One thing I always remembered and that was after giving former Mayor Bill Campbell so much air time when he was running for office he said that if he was elected that he would come back often so he could answer questions to the people of Atlanta who put him in office, but you know I can’t remember him ever coming back on the show after that. I guess you would have to ask Alley about that one, and hello Alley if you read this. I met many great people through that show, and other shows as well, and the staff I worked with was nothing but the best. I wish WVEU was still there as I might be as well.

      Ronald L. Burell
      Atlanta Mobile Production’s, Inc.

      Reply
  2. Sammy

    I had an opportunity to meet and talk with him about 10 years ago, a true character, one of Atlanta’s best!

    Great story Mr Laf.

    Reply
  3. LBJ

    The TV show used to keep my mother, who was in her 60′s and 70′s then, crying with laughter – she was a big fan. There wasn’t a funnier duo when he was with Hosea. I had become a fan years before. It was the only thing both my mother and I found funny.

    Reply
  4. Atlanta Media Guy

    Doug, Great F-ing piece! Alley Pat was one of a kind. I look forward to watching Tom’s film. I’ve known Tom since the late 70′s when we worked together at 27 Up & Coming, a.k.a. WECA-TV now known as WTXL.

    Great times with great people during my days at FSU.

    Doug, like you, your blog gets better with age!

    Reply

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