Ben McKinnon

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Ben McKinnon (born c. 1922 in North Carolina; died October 22, 2011 in Birmingham, called the "Godfather of Birmingham Radio", was general manager of WSGN-FM and executive director of the Alabama Broadcasters Association.

McKinnon graduated from the U. S. Navy Reserve Midshipman School at Columbia University and went on to earn a bachelor of arts in journalism at the University of North Carolina. He served as a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy during World War II, earning Battle Stars from France and Okinawa.

After the war, McKinnon went into the newspaper business, but soon moved into broadcast sales. He came to Birmingham in 1955 to head WSGN and shepherded its emergence as the city's first full-time "Top 40" station. He was named "Broadcaster of the Year" by the Alabama Broadcasting Association in 1979.

McKinnon was promoted to president of the station in 1980 and left in 1982 to take over as director of the ABA, retiring in 2000. After retirement he was recruited to replace Bill Hardekopf as manager of WRRS-FM "Reality Radio" by owner Steve Shelton.

In 2006 McKnnon was one of the guests at a dinner party at Magnolia Springs Manor attended by Sacha Baron Cohen in character as Kazakhstani journalist "Borat".

McKinnon was inducted into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame in 2007.

McKinnon was also a commander of the Kelly Ingram Post 668 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, president of the Jefferson County Chapter of the American Cancer Society, president of the Birmingham Advertising Club, and an elder at Mountain Brook Presbyterian Church.


  • Faulk, Kent (October 23, 2011) "Ben McKinnon, known as the 'Godfather' of Birmingham Radio, has died." The Birmingham News

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