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Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins:
Searching For My Father's Voice

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters, Davia Nelson & Nikki Silva
with Ellen Sebastian Chang
Mixed by Jim McKee at Earwax Productions

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  • More on black radio with historians Dr. William Barlow and Dr. Rick Wright.

    Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins
    Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins, WHK, 1949
    Photo Courtesy of The Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, OH
    In 1948 Bill Hawkins, a former Pullman Porter, became Cleveland's first black disc jockey introducing rhythm & blues, gospel, jazz and a new rhymin' jive talkin' style to the city's airwaves. Broadcasting live from the window of his record shop on 105th and Cedar, Walkin' Talkin' Bill Hawkins became a local celebrity.

    Over the next decade, Hawkins was heard on WJS, WHK, WDOK and WSRS --- sometimes all in the same day. He was widely imitated and influenced a generation of DJs---including Cleveland's rock & roll "Moondog" Alan Freed. Yet today there are no known recordings of the man who first put dip in Cleveland's hip. His story was fading until William Allen Taylor went looking for the father he never knew.

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    Copyright 1999 The Kitchen Sisters