Arts and Culture

Remembering Max Cooper: Broadway Producer and Fast Food Tycoon

Max Cooper, a Broadway producer and Alabama’s largest McDonald’s franchisee, died Sunday at his Birmingham home. He was just shy of 100-years-old. Max Cooper was many things; fast food tycoon, sports impresario, advertising guy, entrepreneur and someone with a lifelong desire to be in show business. Greg Bass spoke with Cooper for WBHM in December of 2010.

“To Me, It Was A Good Thing” Feizal Valli Remembers How Hurricane Katrina Brought Him To Birmingham

Feizal Valli worked as a bartender in New Orleans for over a decade. When he first moved to the city back in the 90s, New Orleans was known as the murder capital of the country. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Valli was living on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. He talked to WBHM's Ashley Cleek about his life before and after the storm.

Arc Stories: August 2015 Edition

Stories that will make you laugh, make you cry, and perhaps both at the same time  —  hear what it was like growing up in the Civil Rights era; a woman risks her own dignity to get a chance at love; a guy raging against his own social awkwardness, and becoming a father to three […]

Vulcans on Parade, Unveiled

If you drive by Railroad Park in downtown Birmingham, you might notice two eight foot replicas of Vulcan, the city’s famous Roman god of fire and forge. They’re a part of a new civic art project called “Vulcans on Parade.” WBHM’s Gina Yu was at the unveiling yesterday morning.

Selma Civil Rights Leader Remembers Amelia Boynton Robinson

Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights activist who helped lead the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" civil rights march in Selma, died Wednesday. She was 104. Boynton Robinson began her activist career in the 1930 championing voting and property rights for blacks in rural Alabama. In the 1960s, her Selma home became the headquarters for the civil rights movement there. And in 1964, she became the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama. Longtime Selma civil rights leader Rev. F.D. Reese spoke to WBHM’s Andrew Yeager about his memories of Amelia Boynton Robinson.

Civil Rights Activist Amelia Boynton Robinson Dies At 104

Amelia Boynton Robinson, a civil rights activist who nearly died while helping lead the 1965 Selma march on "Bloody Sunday," championed voting rights for blacks and was the first black woman to run for Congress in Alabama, has died. She was 104.


Jennifer Hatchett of YouthServe Talks Youth Empowerment and Radio

Jennifer Hatchett is the Executive Director of Youthserve, a group that empowers youth leadership through community service. The students worked with WBHM this summer to produce their own radio stories. She talked with WBHM's Gina Yu about the program.

Birmingham Native And Curator John Fields Recalls His Hurricane Katrina Experience

It has been 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, and John Fields, curator at the Abroms-Engel Institute of Visual Arts and Birmingham native, lived in New Orleans when the disaster hit. In honor of the tenth anniversary of Katrina, he talked to WBHM's Gina Yu about his experience and the way it changed his life and art.

Southern Poverty Law Center Remembers Civil Rights Leader Julian Bond

Mourners turned out in Montgomery, Ala., to remember civil rights pioneer Julian Bond, who died Aug. 15. In 1971, he became the first president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, based in Montgomery.

A Window On Other Arenas: Sports, Race, And More With UAB Sociologist Adrienne Milner

You don’t have to be a scholar to know that African-Americans are heavily represented in contact sports like football and basketball, but underrepresented in “lifetime sports” like tennis or golf. Some casual observers have come up with relatively simple explanations for that phenomenon. But a University of Alabama at Birmingham sociologist and author who studies […]

Celebrating Andrew Glaze, Alabama’s Poet Laureate, And His New Book

Novelist, playwright and poet Andrew Glaze is Alabama’s poet laureate. He’s been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and praised by numerous literary magazines and personalities, like poet Robert Frost. Last month, he was inducted into the Alabama Writers' Hall of Fame. His latest collection of poetry, “Overheard in a Drug Store” was just published…. WBHM’s Rachel Lindley sat down with Glaze for a look at his career.

‘Watchman’ Publication Revives An Old-Fashioned, Boozy Alabama Dessert

The deep south has seen a resurgence of interest in southern culture since author Harper Lee published her newest novel, “Go Set a Watchman.” The author previously wrote beloved classic “To Kill a Mockingbird,” so it’s no wonder her new book set off sparks of conversation about southern identity. Within that, however, there’s been speculation […]

Arc Stories: July 2015 Edition

Stories about how our families shape us, change us, and even surprise us — a man who joins his father to defend their home against an intruder; a young woman defends her sister and goes to unique lengths to avenge her; one man discovers his father was not who he thought he was, and one man’s entire […]

There is Never a Final Word on Barbecue, John Archibald

A Road Trip – Columnist John Archibald of the Alabama Media Group has almost finished his month of travelling the highways and two lane roadways of Alabama, writing a story a day from places, all over. He says he's learned a lot from people from all over in a redeeming trip with a lot of miles.

Timber: Music That’s Haunting, Low and Easy

Timber is a collaboration between Janet Simpson and Will Stewart. Stewart, an Alabama native, is currently based in Nashville. A few years ago, he was working on an EP when Birmingham musician Les Nuby, (Verbena, Vulture Whale) suggested he get together with Simpson. Blame is the first single from Timber’s self-titled EP. Simpson describes the group’s sound as haunting, low and easy. Timber is part of Secret Stages 2015 – they play Friday, July 31st at 10:15 p.m. at the 20 Midtown Stage located at Pale Eddie's Pour House.

The Thorny Issues of Alabama’s Black Belt

Alabama's Black Belt historically held the state's wealth. But now that cotton is no longer king, it's one of the most impoverished regions of the country. The Black Belt has beautiful antebellum homes, but those homes were built thanks to slavery. The contrast shapes how Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald thinks about that part of the state. He's traveling Alabama this month and spent time recently in the Black Belt.

On the Road and A Haircut with John Archibald

Columnist John Archibald of the Alabama Media Group continues his sojourn across Alabama, finding interesting people and places - including a storied barber, a church that has taken a trip, and gluten-free soul food.

What Ever Happened To The Boozy Cake In ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’?

In Harper Lee's classic first novel, Scout Finch's neighbor is known for her Lane cakes. But it's now hard to find this Southern layered sponge cake filled with raisins and whiskey anywhere.

An International History of the American Civil War

Americans tend to think of the Civil War as a domestic conflict, as a war between brothers. But the war didn’t take place in a vacuum. It had great implications for the international community. University of South Carolina history professor Don Doyle examines the Civil War through an international lens in his book “The Cause of All Nations.” He spoke to WBHM’s Andrew Yeager.

Harper Lee Fans Have Mixed Feelings About New Book

Avid readers all over the country have been talking about Alabama author Harper Lee’s newly published book, Go Set a Watchman. The book, intended to be a sequel to Lee’s novel To Kill a Mockingbird, is supposed to be a sequel to the 1960 classic, but was actually written first. Critics Some writers mentioned in reviews […]

On the Road with John Archibald

Summer is a time when people take off, hit the road, and step away from their usual routines. For the month of July, Alabama Media Group columnist John Archibald is doing just that. He’s traveling Alabama and going to a new place each day. Instead of his usual fare of politics, corruption, and hypocrisy, he’s writing about the people and characters he meets – people whose names aren’t usually in print.

University of Alabama History Professor Speaks About Cannonballs Found On Campus

It's not every day you stumble upon a 150-year-old relic. But that's what happened last week when a sidewalk repair crew at the University of Alabama uncovered 10 Civil War era cannonballs buried in the ground. The university called in a bomb squad as a precaution but the cannonballs were removed without incident. WBHM's Stephanie Beckett spoke with University of Alabama history professor Harold Selesky about why they probably came from that time period.

Arc Stories: June 2015 Edition

Stories about people overcoming challenges both big and small in some unique ways. A man who risks everything to chase a dream; a young woman’s relationship is interrupted by divine intervention; and one man tries to get through one very hot night. (Originally aired June 25, 2015 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.)

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute Celebrates Juneteenth in New Way

Today in some deep south states is the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth. Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration of the ending of slavery. It began on June 19th, 1865, after Union soldiers finally got word to these states that slavery had ended — almost 3 years after Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute normally hosts a festival, but for this particular anniversary members decided to do something different.

‘Mother Emanuel’ Church Suffers A New Loss In Charleston

The church that was the scene of Wednesday's mass shooting has survived a string of challenges, from racism to an earthquake. Emanuel took its current name at the end of the Civil War.

Hale Woodruff’s Talladega College Murals At Birmingham Museum of Art

Hale Woodruff is regarded as one of the most important African-American artists of the 20th century. His best-known works are six very large murals he painted for the Talladega College library in the 1930s. An exhibition of the murals, along with early works from Woodruff’s career, opens this Saturday at the Birmingham Museum of Art. WBHM took a tour of the show this week with curators Kelli Morgan and Graham Boettcher.

Commentary: The Steel City’s Spice via Bicycle

When commentator John Houser lived in Indianapolis, the city built a bike and pedestrian path weaving through the city’s downtown cultural districts.  After trying bike commuting for just a few months, he sold his car — transforming his commute from a stressful ride on city streets into a leisurely jaunt past parks, public art, and along a downtown canal. […]

Churches Maintain Stance Against Gay Marriage Despite Cultural Shifts

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to rule this summer on a case that could legalize same-sex marriage and even many opponents of gay marriage don’t expect the court to rule in their favor. Public support of same-sex marriage has swung dramatically in recent years with a majority of Americans now favoring it. At least 545 gay couples married in Alabama earlier this year during the three weeks it was legal. But many churches in the state still embrace a traditional view of marriage and find themselves increasingly within a culture that doesn’t see things their way.

Arc Stories: May 2015 Edition

Stories about love, about loss, and the lengths to which both will make us go.  A little boy finally gets his wish; and a young woman does her best to get her out of a pretty awkward situation. (Originally aired May 28, 2015 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.)    

The Old Paints: Pure Pop And Country From Birmingham

Birmingham band The Old Paints are known for their upbeat sound and a percussionist who plays the log. Yes, that's right, a log. The group draws musical inspiration from artists and bands like Woody Guthrie, Wilco, and The White Stripes. Their second album, This Machine, comes out this summer. For WBHM, Joseph Thornton talked with band members Andy Harris and Breely Flowers about their music and the forthcoming album.

Steel City Jug Slammers: Delta Blues and Old-Time Jug Music

Birmingham's own Steel City Jug Slammers perform Delta blues and old-time jug music.

What Alabamians Think About The Free Range Parenting Debate

In a scene from the film adaptation from of Harper Lee’s "To Kill a Mocking Bird," Scout, Jim and Dill walk unaccompanied through town. Adults they pass just smile and nod. Now take into account these kids are ten, six and seven-years-old. Back then, that didn’t seem out of the ordinary. But recently, there’s been a rise in the number of parents getting in trouble with authorities for letting their kids walk or play alone outside. Nick Patterson is the editor of the weekly newspaper WELD, and he wrote about free range parenting in this week’s edition. Patterson tells WBHM’s Rachel Lindley about this new—and old—parental philosophy.