Bob Friedman

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Bob Friedman (born 1943 in New York, New York) is a former operations manager and talk show host for WJLD AM 1400 and a former commissioner of the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District. He ran unsuccessfully to represent Birmingham City Council District 3 in 2001 and the Birmingham Board of Education District 3 in 2009.

Friedman is the son of Morris and Florence Goldstein Friedman of New York. He began learning piano at age 7 and has performed in accapella and doo-wop groups since his teenage years, including the DuVals, the Chambrays, the Squires, the Four Delights, and the Sparrows Quartet. He earned a bachelor's degree in geology from Hunter College at the City University of New York. In the early 1980s he helped organize literacy programs for the City Colleges of Chicago, then helped set up computer labs for Chicago's Alternative Schools Network.

In 1978 Friedman moved to Gary, Indiana and joined Yesterday’s Rhythm and continued to perform with that group even after relocating to Chicago, Illinois later the same year.

Friedman moved to Birmingham in 1987 to campaign for New Alliance Party presidential candidate Lenora Fulani. He soon became active in community initiatives such as organizing citizen resistance to a proposed waste dump in Titusville, co-founding the RAPS group that opposed the MAPS capital projects legislation in 1998, and leading residents who opposed the privatization of Birmingham's solid waste collection proposed by Donald Watkins' Masada Oxynol. In 2001 he helped lead efforts, as chair of The Petitioners Alliance to prevent the city from selling the assets of the Birmingham Water Works to its board.

Friedman helped organize the Math Busters program at Smithfield Library in the late 1990s. He finished behind Valerie Abbott to fill the seat left by the departure of Jimmy Blake in Birmingham City Council District 3 in the October 2001 election. He joined the housing authority board in 2002. That same year he lobbied from his radio program for the legislation that restructured the Birmingham Board of Education into district representatives. With the housing authority he helped put in place contract requirements for academic content in after-school programs.

Friedman also worked in sponsor accounts for Gary Richardson's WJLD-AM. He soon convinced Richardson to let him host a weekly Doo-Wop program as "Bobby D". To suit local tastes he gradually blended Blues and R&B acts from the 1950s into the mix. Beginning in 1989 Friedman's community activities took a larger role on his "Saturday Morning Live" public affairs talk show, which continued as "Sound Off!" which aired until Friedman's retirement in 2011.

With Richardson's support Friedman assembled an archive of historical materials for the 50th anniversary of the station in 1992. Those materials were later updated and transcribed for the station's website. Friedman founded the Birmingham Black Radio Museum which was incorporated as a non-profit in 2004 and has been housed in the Carver Theatre. In August 2023 he was inducted into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame.

As a singer, Friedman continued to perform in Birmingham with The Magictones beginning in 1996 and with the Pillars of Birmingham beginning in 2007.

In 2012 Friedman applied for appointment to an open seat on the Water Works Board.


  • "City Council elections e-mail interview." (October 2001) The Southsider. Vol. 2, No. 4
  • "Birmingham Board of Education District 3: Bob Friedman" (August 17, 2009) The Birmingham News
  • Bryant, Joseph D. (November 12, 2012) "Council flooded with resumes and letters in contest to fill Water Works seat." The Birmingham News
  • Haden, Courtney (March 28, 2013) "Tall Paul’s long shadow." Weld for Birmingham
  • Chandler, Alyx (May 18, 2018) "Archiving the past" Iron City Ink

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