STORY BY SCOTT MIMS
Tune in to 95.5 FM, 1000 AM or wklfradio.com and you’ll hear something different—and perhaps something a little familiar.
The Clanton station — which under its current ownership has been devoted to Southern Gospel music — is now offering a variety of rock ‘n’ roll, pop and big band sounds in a new lineup of programming airing each Saturday from 3-9 p.m.
The newest of these offerings is “Roger’s Golden Oldies,” which airs in the middle of the block from 5-7 p.m. and features WKLF radio veteran Roger Mims, who DJ’d there from 1973-1987 and was previously known by his radio name Craig Rogers. The program features classic rock ‘n’ roll and pop tracks primarily from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s (Although, Mims has been known to sneak in a song from the ’80s or even ’90s, if it’s popular or requested.)
“There’s a lack of really what you can call oldies on the radio,” Mims said, explaining that nowadays, people tend to call music from the ’70s and ’80s “oldies” but the term “golden oldies” from which the program derives its name historically refers to songs from the previous two decades.
“We just thought we’d make it available here even though it’s just a two-hour-a week show,” he said.
Mims keeps a close eye on the Billboard charts from yesteryear and likes to play songs that hit No. 1 or were high-selling singles, but that is not his only criteria for whether a particular song is air worthy.
“It could be a top 40 hit or something even lower if it’s a great song,” he said.
Mims’ interest in radio blossomed in his teenage years while tuning to WVOK in Birmingham, WBAM in Montgomery and WHHY in Montgomery. He also recalls listening to Rick Dees, who worked the morning drive in the early-to-mid ’70s on WSGN out of Birmingham.
“The funniest DJ I ever heard,” Mims said of Dees.
Like many who grew up in the era, Mims cut his teeth on Elvis, The Beatles, The Beach Boys, Ricky Nelson, Neil Diamond, Buddy Holly, etc. In fact, if someone asks him one day what artists influenced him
and then ask him again the next day, he is likely to give two completely different answers.
“I have always loved music, especially the old rock ‘n’ roll oldies,” he says. “If anybody ever asked me to give a top artist, I don’t know if I could or not because there are so many great artists and great songs.”
Mims graduated from Chilton County High School in 1970 and attended the National School of Radio and TV Broadcasting in Atlanta in 1970 and 1971. He went on to work at WMLS Sylacauga, WJAM Marion and finally WKLF, where he remained for about 14 years until 1987. At the time, WKLF played primarily country but had begun incorporating rock and pop as FM took over the radio waves.
Mims started hosting his new show March 7.
He said he had dreamt of returning to radio and decided to make the move when he was offered the opportunity.
For him, that opportunity came three years into retirement after working for nearly 30 years at Stokes Automotive in Clanton.
“I love it. I have a ball,” he said. “I’m thankful to WKLF for giving me a chance to do it. All the response we’ve had so far (has been) positive.”
The new show is sandwiched between two longer running shows that are new to WKLF. Airing Saturdays 3-5 p.m. is “In the Mood,” a big band show hosted by Scott Michaels that is carried by other stations across the country as well.
Capping off the new lineup from 7-9 p.m. is The Dr. Dax Davis Show, hosted by Dr. Dax Davis. The show, which also airs in the Shelby County area, utilizes analog equipment and plays oldies similar to those heard on Mims’s program.
Additional changes are planned for WKLF. Station co-owner and chief engineer Chris Johnson said he and Robert King purchased WKLF with the intent of getting involved in the community.
“We’ve tried to do that,” Johnson said.
This included airing Chilton County Commission meetings on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at 6 p.m. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re going to try to continue that even after COVID, as a public service,” Johnson said.
New upgrades are underway, including a new tower and expanded coverage into Maplesville, Verbena, Jemison and south Shelby County.
Johnson also hinted at further additions to WKLF’s programming, such as a country classic hour, but could not give more specific details.
“We’ve had a really good response to our Saturday evening programming, and we are looking forward to continuing that,” King said.