If You Were A Teenager, And You Lived In New Orleans, And It Was May 1981, This Is What It Sounded Like
Just a hunch, but I would bet even money that, if you were born and raised in New Orleans and they did a DNA test, they would find musical notes mixed up in there. Music is such a synonymous part of New Orleans life and culture that it’s in the blood of the people who call it home. And when you think about it, a lot of what we listen to and is part of our nations heritage got its start in The Crescent City. Although to be fair, a number of other cities lay claim to various birthplaces – Jazz, Rock n’ Roll, R&B. But you have to admit, New Orleans has had more than its fair share of musical innovators get their start there.
And so access to music was a given – and radio, for decades, was the messenger. And like the New Orleans music scene, the radio scene was loaded with its galaxy of colorful characters – those names and personalities that put an indelible stamp on the cultural map.
What used to be called Black-Oriented Radio eventually morphed into Urban Radio, but the emphasis on R&B, Soul and early Rock n’ Roll had been around since the 1940s – nurtured and cultivated by disc-jockeys whose colorful names and personalities fit they music they played like a glove.
One of those colorful personalities was known as The Black Pope, a legendary figure throughout the South and as far west as Texas. A mystery, even to his listeners, The Black Pope was the persona of Shelley Pope, one of the most high-energy disc-jockeys of the 60s through early 1980s. His rapid-fire and off-the-wall delivery became his trademark, and he symbolized the unmistakeable sound and energy of Urban Radio. Dubbed “The Human Radio Station”, this broadcast comes from the now-defunct WNNR-AM in New Orleans in May of 1981.
Sound is a bit scratchy in places (it IS AM radio after all), but you get the idea that The Black Pope and New Orleans were made for each other.
Wear it out, Pope – Wear IT OUT!