From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Wallace, Bonnie Goddard and Theodore "Cal" Sr.

Activist Theodore Calvin Wallace, Sr. (1914-1987) a pioneer in radio and television in Lexington, KY, was born in Patton, AL, the son of Eula Wallace Williams (b. 1898 in AL) and the stepson of Allen "Baby Bush" Williams (b. 1883 in MS). According to the 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Allen Williams was a coal miner in Parrish, AL. The family of four lived on Jasper Road.

Theodore Calvin Wallace was known as Cal. He grew up in Parrish and later came to Kentucky to work in the coal mines in Harlan. While in Harlan, he met his future wife, Bonnie J. Goddard (1920-2002), the daughter of Lee D. (b. 1875 in KY) and Edward Goddard (b. 1864 in TN). Ed Goddard was a circuit-riding preacher of the Christian Church/Church of Christ. Bonnie Goddard was born in Harlan, KY. She and her husband left Kentucky for West Virginia and Virginia, where Cal Wallace worked in the coal mines. He eventually left the coal mines and moved his family to Cincinnati, OH, where he had various jobs along with working for a radio station. He was sometimes on the air at WZIP in Covington, KY, one of the first two African American disc jockeys (DJs) in the state. [The other was Ernie Waits.]

In 1954, Cal Wallace moved his family to Lexington, where they all lived in the home they  purchased on Whitney Avenue in the Forest Hill area. The school-age children attended Booker T. Washington School. Cal Wallace had come to Lexington the year before his family arrived; he was employed as a DJ with WLEX Radio (AM). He was a DJ at night and sold accounts [air time] during the day. The radio station had another African American employee, Nancy Webb, who had a half-hour program called "Webb Presents." When WLEX expanded to television, Cal Wallace had a weekend program, was on the air live, and showed films. He was the first African American to have a program on television in Lexington. 

Cal Wallace was also in accounts at WLAP Radio (AM), where he came up with the idea of developing the commercial station WLAP FM. He then went to a local store, Barney Miller's, and ordered a truck load of FM radios to give to people in the community because most of his potential audience members had only AM radios. WLAP FM, with Cal Wallace as general manager, proved to be a hit. Several of his sons and his wife were on the air. Bonnie Wallace had a popular program called "The Sweet Chariot." The station also had a DJ contest for teenagers, and two of the winners were Sam Jones and Raymond Ross, both of whom would become successful broadcasters.

Cal Wallace was the first African American to manage a radio station in Lexington. He also established The Lexington Chronicle newspaper in the 1960s, and the entire family helped to publish each issue. The newspaper was a free publication made available to the African American community. It was published for about five years. In 1978, Cal Wallace's sons, Edgar and Bernard, resurrected the newspaper with the new title, Bluegrass Chronicle.

In 1963, Cal Wallace ran unsuccessfully for the Kentucky House of Representatives. His son Edgar  would become a Lexington City Council member, and another son, Theodore (Ted) Calvin Wallace, Jr., was a House member of the Michigan Legislature for four terms; he also served as judge of the 36th District Court for seven years. The leadership role of their father extended into the community:; Cal Wallace served as director of the Lexington Community Action organization and  worked with Micro City Government.

Cal Wallace was also a minister, serving as pastor at Prall Street Church of Christ in Lexington. The church was founded by Cal and Bonnie Wallace, beginning as a Bible class in their living room. Today, the church is located on Russell Cave Road. Cal Wallace would become a bishop and overseer in the Church of Christ, overseeing seven churches  located in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Cincinnati, OH, Lexington, and Harlan, KY.

Cal Wallace's communication skills had been well groomed when he was a high school student in Alabama where he also competed in oratorical contests. He attended Lincoln Normal School for Colored Students [today Alabama State University], then returned to his high school as a teacher and coach of the football team.

For additional information see the Thomas C. Wallace interview in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item record in the SPOKE Database; the "WLAP-AM History" website, by Scott Willis; "Fayette radio pioneer 'Cal' Wallace dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 1/4/1987, p. C7; and "Bonnie G. Wallace, ex-DJ at WLAP, 81" Lexington Herald-Leader, 3/23/2002, p. C4. See also the NKAA entries for Thomas C. Wallace, Ted Wallace, and Leula Wallace Hall.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Harlan County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Fayette County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Harlan, Kentucky in Wikipedia.
Read about Lexington, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

References

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Waits, Ernest J., Sr. "Ernie"
NKAA Entry: Jones, Samuel
NKAA Entry: Wallace, Edgar A. [Bluegrass Chronicle (newspaper)]
NKAA Entry: Wallace, Theodore "Ted" Calvin, Jr.
NKAA Entry: Wallace, Thomas Cicero "Little Bee"
NKAA Source: The Lexington chronicle (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Lexington herald-leader (newspaper)

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry:  Radio Broadcasts Negro High School Sports, Lexington, KY
NKAA Entry:  Hall, Leula Wallace

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Wallace, Bonnie Goddard and Theodore "Cal" Sr.,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed January 27, 2023, http://nkaa.uky.edu/nkaa/items/show/2689.

Last modified: 2023-01-16 18:13:22