If you grew up in Birmingham in the 60s, most likely you listened to one of the best radio stations in the south, WSGN, the big 610. They called their DJs, the Good Guys. One of the most popular Good Guys was Dave Roddy, sometimes called, “Rockin’ Roddy.”
Dave grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. He began radio in Knoxville in 1958, later moving to Charlotte and then came to Birmingham in 1960 to WYDE, which was a rock station at that time. His own-air name was Ken Keene before coming here and changed it to Dave Roddy after arriving at WYDE. After one year, Dave moved to WSGN, replacing Tommy Charles, and became one of the Swinging Southern Gentlemen DJs. In 1963, WSGN hired Jim Taber as the Program Director and he immediately went to work revamping the station. WSGN moved their studios from the 7th Avenue South location to the penthouse above the City Federal Building. Taber made other changes such as using PAMS jingles, adding a distinct echo (reverb) to the signal (which gave it a more polished sound) and using the cute smiley face logo on surveys, tee-shirts, etc. He also renamed the DJs, the Good Guys. Principle among them was Dave Roddy. Others of note included Glen Powers, Walt Williams, Steve Norris and Neal Miller (who was later on Birmingham TV as Sgt. Jack). Dave was named Music Director and is responsible for being the first to play a lot of records which became hits. National radio stations monitored WSGN’s playlists. These changes and the Good Guys helped to make WSGN one of the best radio stations in the country. In fact, WSGN was so popular, that WYDE changed their format to country in 1965, leaving WSGN the sole 24 hour rock and roll station in Birmingham for many years. Their next strongest competitor, WVOK, signed off at sunset.
Dave was extremely popular with the teenage rock and roll crowd and also hosted rock and roll shows at the Airport and Oporto armories. He was instrumental in bringing national and local artists to Birmingham. WSGN would also set up live at the Alabama State Fair each year and, since Dave was the evening DJ, he would broadcast his show from the fair.
Early in 1968, Dave went into the recording studio and cut a single release, “The Last Goodbye,” on the Warner Bros. label. Just as the record began to climb the charts, a similar themed record was released by Bobby Goldsboro in March. That record was, “Honey.” Bobby, who was essentially from Alabama, having moved to Dothan from Florida in his early teens, was already a chart success, having had six Top 40 hits by this time and several minor hits. His record label pushed “Honey” hard. Dave Roddy became the first DJ to play “Honey,” premiering it on his radio show on WSGN. “The Last Goodbye” was a huge hit in the Alabama area, but the release of “Honey” knocked the wind out of the sails of Dave’s record with it not doing anything on a national level.
Bobby and Dave were good friends and Bobby promised to write Dave another song for him to release. That song was, “With Pen In Hand.” Unfortunately, about this time, Dave had a serious non-vehicular accident and was immobile for some time, so he couldn’t record it. The song would be released in 1969 by Vikki Carr and reached #35. Goldsboro himself would release the song in 1972, but it barely got into the Hot 100. It also became a #3 County hit for Johnny Darrell in 1968.
Dave was not able to return to work from the aforementioned accident until 1970 and went into sales. He left WSGN and Birmingham in 1972. He now lives in Columbia, South Carolina and owns a successful advertising business.
The Last Goodbye – Dave Roddy
Dave ‘Rockin’ Roddy Aircheck Montage