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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.