Tall Paul

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Paul Dudley "Tall Paul" White (born August 16, 1936 in Birmingham; died August 19, 2001 in Birmingham) was a popular African American disc jockey of the 1960s on WENN-AM. He and his broadcast colleague Shelly the Playboy Stewart were known to broadcast coded messages to civil rights demonstrators during the Birmingham campaign of the early 1960s.

White was the son of Elmore and Minnie White of Titusville, and was born at Hillman Hospital. As a child he traveled with his mother, a popular preacher in the Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God, often taking the pulpit himself. They settled in at the Mason City Apostolic Overcoming Holy Church of God in 1947. White attended Spaulding Elementary School.

In 1954 White enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in Germany. After his return he finished his diploma at Rosedale High School in 1958. He worked briefly in Chicago, Illinois before returning to Alabama to take a job at Leroy and Viola Garrett's WEUP-AM in Huntsville. There he became the first radio voice for the Alabama A&M University Bulldogs.

Joe Lackey and Erskine Faush recruited White to broadcast Miles College Golden Bears football games on WENN and to read news stories during Shelley Stewart's morning show in 1961. When Stewart moved over to WJLD-AM a year later, White took over his morning slot as "Tall Paul", inspired by an Annette Funicello song.

Tall Paul had a significant audience among white teenagers, demonstrated on one of the favorite feature of his shows -- "Roll Call." For Roll Call he would play an uptempo instrumental and then in his inimitable style announce the names of area high schools when students from those schools called in. In those still-segregated days it was not unusual to have Ramsay High School announced along with the "Parker High Thundering Herd" or the "Rosedale Sons of Kong."

Tall Paul participated in the famous DJ walk-out in the mid-1970's at WENN when new ownership fired Joe Dentici, the station's white manager. The all-black announcing staff quit, a story which made national headlines at the time.

White was inducted into the Birmingham Record Collectors Hall of Fame in 2017 and the Alabama Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame in 2022.


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