A maestro on the mic and an acclaimed radio program director, “The Almighty” Joe Bullard recently was inducted into the National Black Radio Hall of Fame.
He was selected as the first of 12 to receive the Original 13 Black Radio Award. The ceremony took place Oct. 3 in St. Louis.
“It was an honor. I look at the fact that you wonder one day if you’ll ever have the opportunity to be inducted into it knowing it’s out there and also the fact that people and program directors vote for you to become a part of the original 13,” Bullard told The Famuan. “It was an honor and privilege that I am thankful for.”
Bullard, also known as “the voice of the Marching 100,” has worked in radio for 57 years, starting in Jacksonville in 1965 with WOBS 1360. In 1972, he worked at WOKB in Orlando, formerly known as sports station WTLN, located in Apopka, after winning a 25 word or less contest on why he would like to be on the radio, responding, “To play better music.”
He received jock of the week and then jock of the month at the station. He worked under the name, “Thethe Matador,” playing music after school from 4-8 p.m. before the start of WTLN playing Atlanta Braves games. Bullard arrived in Tallahassee in 1974 when he took a position at WANM, becoming one of the first announcers for the station. It was the first Black station in Tallahassee. He also worked for Columbia Records as a promotional manager for Florida, which Sony Music bought in 1990.
Shelby Chipman, the director of bands at FAMU and professor of music, Chipman, described Bullard as a legend.
“His experience as a radio personality exceeds itself in that he first started in high school, working on his campus at Jones High School and with Cumulus Media and all the other syndicated radio opportunities. He has helped bring awareness about what the people would like to hear and that makes him artistic and unique,” Chipman said.
“Joe is very canny, spirited and dynamic in how he presents not only himself but whatever group he’s trying to bring a smile to. The way he interacts with the different communities, wherever he is at any event whether it’s a formal occasion, Walt Disney World, or the Marching 100, he has a certain personality that exudes itself because of the warm-hearted spirit that he has,” Chipman added.
Bullard has continued to do what he loves, with a voice that anyone who turns on a radio in the Big Bend will recognize immediately.
“People, being able to talk to people, being able to open up request lines, to find out what people want to listen on the radio, and the fact of being in the community and working with others. Being a people person is the key. Being touchable, approachable, and at the same time being able to communicate,” Bullard said.