His voice was well known to a generation of mostly young listeners in the Birmingham market.

Jim Kell, ‘JK the DJ, died June 26 at Hospice of West Alabama. He was 86.

In the 1960s, he was the night DJ on WSGN radio, 610 AM. Kell and WSGN were fan favorites of listeners of the Top 40.

He was a big fan of instrumental hits, including "Pipeline" by the Chantays and "Let’s Go" by the Routers. His signature sign-off song was "Gonzo" by James Booker.

In 1964, WSGN moved into the penthouse of the City Federal Building in downtown Birmingham. This was the beginning of the station’s golden years, which are often referred to as the Golden Age of Radio in Alabama. 

The on-air personalities there with Kell were called “The Good Guys.” They were Jim Taber, Herb Steadman, Walt Williams, Dave Roddy, Neal Miller, Russ Knight, Robby Reed, Glenn Powers and JK the DJ, Jim Kell.

Their newsman was Elvin Stanton, who later became Gov. George Wallace's media relations head. A second WSGN Good Gus newsman was Bill Bolen, who later left for television.

After leaving the Birmingham area, Kell partially left the microphone and went into radio advertising sales, repping several stations in the Tuscaloosa area for Townsquare Media. He could not completely forget the feel and thrill of being on the air and often filled in for sick, vacationing, or otherwise absent DJs on Tuscaloosa stations.

It was mostly a labor of love, but Jim Kell drove the bus for special needs kids for Tuscaloosa County Schools. That job is a true calling – and tough.

Services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Friday, June 28 at Magnolia Chapel North with Bro. Scott McCown officiating. Private burial will be in Cleveland Church of Christ Cemetery, Berry. Visitation will be one hour prior to services at Magnolia Chapel North.

Jim ‘Zig’ Zeigler’s beat is the colorful and positive about Alabama. He writes about Alabama people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at ZeiglerElderCare@yahoo.com.

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