In 1947 James "Alley Pat" Patrick began his career as one of Atlanta's first black deejays under the name "Pat Alley". It's said he got the moniker by inviting his listeners to "go in the alley and drink some beer".

Born in Montezuma, Georgia to a Baptist preacher and nurse, his family moved to Atlanta in 1931. Mr. Patrick graduated from Booker T. Washington High School. During World War 2, Pat was a member of the legendary Tuskeegee Airmen and after graduating from Morehouse College with a degree in Science and pre-med, he was set to go on to medical school. Medicene's loss was radio's gain, as Pat was "discovered" by WERD Programming Director Ken Knight while calling a bingo game and "jiving" over the loudspeakers. Knight invited him to submit a demo tape and soon he was on the air. WERD was the first black-owned radio station in America.

In 1954, he joined the staff of WAOK, the country's first 24-hour African-American radio station, co-hosting a show with Zenas Sears (a white dj). Sears founded WAOK in an effort to bring black music to a mainstream audience, and in doing so, created the first 24-hour radio station with an African-American format.

In the sixties, Pat left radio to become Atlanta's first black bail bondsman, coming to the aid of southern Civil Rights activists. He also owned several businesses, and worked briefly as a sales rep for a major record company.

By the mid seventies, Alley Pat was doing a morning drive slot at WXAP-AM, later moving to afternoons on WYZE-AM. By the early nineties he could still be heard doing a midnight to 3 slot on WQXI-AM, which was later bought by Disney Radio. Since then, it appears that Pat could not be heard on a regular basis.

Pat expanded to television in the early 1980's with WVEU Channel 69's "Alley Pat's Place", where the same local movers and shakers who were repeatedly made fun of on his radio show were grilled by a now (relatively) genial host. The station's general manager said "Alley Pat is a remarkable man. He has the ability to call almost anyone and say, `I want you on my show,' and they come. And he's never very nice to them."

In the 1990's Pat's TV show moved to Atlanta's Public Access channel, where it is now seen twice a week.

Pat at Hosea Williams memorial service.

In November, 2000 Pat spoke at the memorial service for Reverend Hosea Williams, a renowned civil rights leader, and sometime verbal sparring partner for Pat. His hilarious eulogy had the mourners laughing uncontrollably for over twenty minutes and was televised live over most of Atlanta's television stations. Many viewers had no idea who this incredible speaker was, and soon Pat was being interviewed on Atlanta radio and TV stations.

Mr. Patrick continues to reside in Atlanta, and though his stock in trade was sharp, funny ridicule of the city's powers that be, he sometimes sought change through traditional politics. He unsuccessfully ran for Fulton County Sherriff (the first black man to ever do so) and the Board of Commissioners in the late 1970's, worked on the late Rev. Hosea Williams 1990 campaign and attempted a dark horse mayoral bid in 1998.

2004 saw Alley Pat appearing at a seminar on black radio in Atlanta as well as a book signing for Marsha Washington George's book "Black Radio: Winner Takes All". Marsha, it should be pointed out is the niece of the man who discovered Alley Pat and gave him his first job in radio. The seminar was videotaped by Tom Roche as part of the Alley Pat Film Project.


My thanks to: Chuck Sears, Marsha Washington George, and The Southerner, the newspaper of Atlanta's Grady High School for their help.

Some of the black and white photos and additional info comes from the book "African-American Entertainment In Atlanta" by Herman "Skip" Mason, Jr. (1998) from Arcadia Publishing, Charleston, SC. The photos I've used have no credit or copyright info, but if you have some, I'd be happy to include it.