Thursday, October 13, 2016

Radio Disc Jockeys' Use Of Black Originated Jive Talk

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part II of a three part series on African American radio disc jockeys (DJs).

Part II provides a definition of the term "jive talk" and presents excerpts from various books and other online sources about the use of African American jive talk (Black jive talk) by pioneer Black radio DJs and White radio DJs and by other Black radio DJs.

Click for Part I. Part I presents excerpts from various books and other online sources about the early history of African American radio (Black radio).

The Addendum to Part I features biographical information about three African American disc jockeys from the 1930 through the 1960s.

Click for Part III of this series. Part III provides information about legendary Black DJ Frankie Crocker and includes some examples of his sayings. Part III also features two YouTube sound files of Frankie Crocker's shows.

The content of this post is presented for historical and cultural purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

Please share any radio DJ jive talk (banter) that you remember with the decade, radio station, city, and the DJ's name if you recall it. Thanks!

Definition #1 (noun)
- the jargon of hipsters
- a special jargon of difficult or slang terms
In the 1930s Cab Calloway and other African American Jazz musicians used "jive" to refer to the slang that terms that they created or adapted.
Click "Are You Hep to the Jive? The Cab Calloway Hepster Dictionary" by Brett & Kate McKay September 25, 2008 for a list of "jive" terms and their meanings.

In the context of radio disc jockeys, talking jive refers to a certain way of talking, a certain way of using words, and playing with words. In that context, a person who jive talks is a verbal wordsmith, i.e. a person who is skillful in the use of spoken words. A person who talks jive uses African American Vernacular English (Black slang and grammatical constructs), and constructs that talk in the form of a short rhyme. Many of these sentences contain internal rhyming words or near rhymes. For example, (from Excerpt #3 below) "Stick around, don't be no clown. Listen to what I'm puttin' down. This is Hooty-Tooty, the bandit's booty." Jive talk is often self-confident and self-promoting. Also, people who talk jive often talk fast, but their manner of delivery is also "smooth".

Definition #2 (adjective)
Another definition of the word "jive" is (adjective) "glib, deceptive, or foolish talk". [].

Also, read this definition of "jive turkey" from
"Jive Turkey was a derogatory slang word in African American Vernacular English (Ebonics), used to refer to someone who was unreliable, made empty promises, or who was full of bluster. Several funk groups in the late 1960s and 1970s used the term, particularly the Ohio Players in songs such as "Jive Turkey" on the album Skin Tight from 1974. The insult became widely known in the 1980s, particularly via television comedies (e.g., The Jeffersons). The term has been used by later television characters (e.g., Homer Simpson) in order to demonstrate that they are out of touch with modern youth trends, culture, and language. The term was also used in the film Semi-Pro starring Will Ferrell and in Weird Science starring Kelly LeBrock 1985. "Jive turkey" also garnered attention in the movie Trading Places. Jive turkey, however, was already falling into disuse when it was spoken by "hip" television characters in the 1970s, such as George Jefferson. Jive turkey is also a quick step dance in Germany in the 1930s."
That Billy Madison sure is a jive turkey!
#unreliable #jive turkey #liar #jive #turkey"

by nlc82 November 21, 2011

These adjectival meanings for the word "jive" aren't pertinent to this post about radio disc jockeys use of "jive talk."

These excerpts are presented in no particular order. I've assigned numbers for referencing purposes only.
Most of these excerpts are transcribed from Google books. The transcriptions are given without footnotes or other citations excerpt for the book title, author, and page number (if given). No hyperlink is given for those transcriptions. However, a link is given for more information about that featured book.

Additional quotes from a number of these sources given below can be found in Part I of this pancocojams series.

Excerpt #1
From Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties by Scott Saul
[Google book]

Click for more information about this book.

[Pancocojams editor: This beginning sentence refers to bebop music]

Page 39
"The jive of Calloway, Gibson, and Gailliard was exported in the late forties to an even larger mass audience by hep-talking DJs-some white and some black- who found their niche in urban locales across the country. Between 1946 and 1954, the number of small and independent radio stations mushroomed as the FCC broke up the domination of radio by newspaper publishers....

[DJs] engaged in imaginary dialogue with listeners out there, using the second person address; and they fielded listener phone calls, and played requests.

Jive was the language of this new invisible intimacy. Participation in a racial ventriloquism that descended from the minstrel show but had several new kinks, white listeners bonded with black DJs, black listeners bonded with white DJs, and -most commonly as R&B segued into rock ‘n’ roll- white listeners bonded with white DJs like Alan Freed, who specialized in “talking black”. In every part of the United States, DJs brought irreverent black rapping and rhyming games into their dialogue with listeners (much of which centered around promotions of their own show or of the products advertised on it. In Austin, Texas, Albert Lavada Durst-better known as Dr. Hepcat-became the city’s first Black DJ in 1947 and found fame for his Rosewood Ramble, a show where he peppered R&B, jazz, and blues music with a surreal patter perfected in an earlier career

Page 40
as a Negro League announcer.

In New Orleans, white owned radio stations refused to hire a black DJ, but one station did hire Vernon Winslow, a black journalist and professor, to teach its DJs the art of jive and to write and direct a show called Jam, Jive, and Gumbo which had a black-sounding DJ nicknamed Poppa Stoppa. Once in the door, Winslow broke the larger barrier at New Orleans’ WJMR: a few years later, in 1949, he landed his own show as “Doctor Daddy-O” and remained on the air until the 1980s.

After nearly one million black southerners migrated to the North during World War II in search of factory work, the airwaves of cities such as Chicago and New York were thick with the banter of jive. In Chicago, Holmes “Daddy-O” Daylie, after serving as a bartender of the El Grotto Supper Club, became an announcer for the club’s radio in 1948. His bartending gig was then subsumed by a thirty-nine year carrier as one of Chicago’s most prominent black radio personalities, a DJ who addressed the programming abyss between the white pop favored on the radio and the R&B audience on the Southside.”…

Excerpt #2:
From African Americans and US Popular Culture by Kevern Verney [Google Books]

Click for more information about this book.
"In contrast to earlier black presenters, who had adopted the style of white presenters, the new DJs emphasized their African American identity. They discussed issues of interest to black listeners. In a style pioneered by presenter Al Benson in Chicago, Black DJs spoke in “jive talk”, streetwise language and pronunciation that comprised the daily speech of black communities. Commonly known as ‘rhyming and signifying’, this involved speaking in rhyming sentences and engaging in verbal banter using ghetto slang. A means of conveying information in a way that made it incomprehensible to most whites, the practice had its origins in the speech pattern of ante-bellum slaves.


Page 1954
In the 1950s white ‘crossover’ DJs began to take advantage of the popularity of black presenters. In what historian William Barlow has described as ‘racial ventriloquy’, whit broadcasters like ‘John R’ Richbourg in Nashville, Tennessee, Alan ‘Moondog’ Freed in Cleveland, Ohio and Robert ‘Wolfman’ Jack, broadcasting to the United States from Mexico, adopted African American speaking styles, Well versed in African American culture and playing R&B records, they consciously developed a black style persona"....

Excerpt #3:
"City: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Broadcast area: Piedmont Triad
Branding: Classic Hits WTOB
Frequency: 980 kHz
First air date: October 28, 1950 (as WAAA)

WAAA was owned by white businessman Roger Page when it first began broadcasting in 1950. This was rare at this time in the Deep South that a white owner would own and operate a mainly black radio station.
On the afternoon of October 28, 1950 Larry L. Williams, an African-American, signed on WAAA. The first program broadcast was a football game between Morgan State University and A & T State University. The game was announced from the stadium by Togo West, Sr. (principal of Atkins High School) while Larry L. Williams conducted station operations.

On the morning of October 29, 1950 Williams signed on WAAA for the first full day of broadcasting[3] as the second radio station in the state (after WGIV in 1947) specifically targeting an African American audience.

WAAA was believed to be the third black radio station in the United States,[6] preceded by WDIA in Memphis and WERD in Atlanta.[7] WAAA was also the first black-owned station in North Carolina.[8]

Prior to becoming the General Manager of WAAA, Larry L. Williams gave play-by-play action of the Winston-Salem State University football and basketball games; becoming known as the "Voice of the Rams." Larry L. Williams went on to become General Manager of radio stations in Alabama, South Carolina, and Charlotte, NC. He returned to his home in Asheville, North Carolina in 2002 to become General Manager of WOXL-FM. Larry L. Williams, a pioneer in radio, retired in 2008 at the age of 90.

Oscar "Daddy-Oh" Alexander was the station's best known DJ. He was described as "a jive-talking hipster who radiated cool while spinning hits from Motown and Stax."[9]
Jazz pianist Keith Byrd, who once lived near him, described Alexander this way:
He had a voice that was like gravel going through molasses. You know what I'm saying? It was smooth and sweet. He was a good spirit, a great character and he played the hottest songs. He was almost like the black Wolfman Jack in this area.[9]

Alexander left the station in 1962 after five years. But he made quite an impression with lines such as these:
It's Hooty-Tooty your host, the one that loves you the most.

It's 24 O'Roolies past 4 Mac Vouchers.

Here in the atmospheric conditions of our universal solar system - it's clear as a bell and hot as - 98 degrees.

Stick around, don't be no clown. Listen to what I'm puttin' down. This is Hooty-Tooty, the bandit's booty.[10]"

This concludes Part II of this three part series.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Examples of DJ Frankie Crocker's jive talk are included in Part III of this series.

For the cultural record, please share any radio DJ jive talk (banter) that you remember with the decade, radio station, city, and the DJ's name if you recall it. Thanks!

Visitor comments are welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment