Shelley Stewart

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Shelley Stewart c. 1960
Shelley Stewart c. 1979
Shelley Stewart c. 2014

Shelley Stewart (born September 1933) is a former radio personality, station owner and advertising executive.

Stewart grew up in an abusive household in Rosedale and witnessed the death of his mother at the hands of his father at the age of 5. He was mentored by teachers and became successful in school. He later became famous as Shelley the Playboy with partner Erskine Fausch on WENN-AM and later as the owner of WATV-AM.

Stewart began his radio career at WEDR-AM in 1949, earning $17.50 a week as a sixteen year old. He quickly proved a popular on-air personality and moved from mornings to mid-day to evenings. He left the station in 1958 to take a job with WOKJ-AM in Jackson, Mississippi, but continued to appear in Birmingham and other cities as a host of "Platter Parties" and as a stand-up comic and emcee.

In 1960 Stewart deejayed a weekly record hop at Don's Teen Town in Bessemer. On July 14 of that year a group of about 80 Klansmen surrounded the building and sent word to manager Ray Mahoney that they wanted Stewart. Mahoney instead announced the siege to the crowd of 800 or so white teenagers, who flooded out to chase the klansmen off, allowing Stewart to escape.

During the Civil rights movement Stewart used his radio program to pass along information about mass meetings and planned marches, especially after students became involved during the Children's Crusade of 1963.

He and Cy Steiner co-founded an advertising firm in 1967, with Stewart as a "silent partner". He eventually amassed a majority stake in what became known as O2 Ideas. He sold the business to his partners in 2015.

Stewart was appointed to the Birmingham Park and Recreation Board in 1983 and served as president from 1987 until leaving the board in 1990.

Stewart founded the Mattie C. Stewart Foundation to honor his mother's memory by helping young people prepare for adulthood. In 2002 his memoir, co-written with Nathan Hale Turner, was published as The Road South.

Publications

References

  • Williams, Roy L. (July 12, 2009) "On the Record - Shelley Stewart, president of O2 Ideas in Birmingham encourages young people to get an education." The Birmingham News