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Wallace, Bonnie Goddard and Theodore "Cal" Sr.
Activist Theodore Calvin Wallace, Sr. (1914-1987) was a pioneer in radio and television in Lexington, Kentucky. He 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, AL, 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-ridding 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 and also worked for a radio station. He was sometimes on the air at WZIP in Covington, KY, and was one of the first two African American disc jockeys (DJs) in the state. [The other was Ernie Waits.] Cal Wallace moved his family to Lexington, KY in 1954, and they all lived in the home 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 named Nancy Webb, she had a half-hour program called "Webb Presents." When WLEX expanded to television, Cal Wallace had a weekend program, he was on the air live and showed films. He was the first African American to have a program on television in Lexington, KY. Cal Wallace was also in accounts at WLAP Radio (AM), and it was there that he came up with the idea of developing the commercial station WLAP FM. He then went to a local store named Barney Miller's and ordered a truck load of FM radios, and gave them 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 Cal Wallace's 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. The newspaper 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 Wallace would become a Lexington City Council Member, and his son, Theodore (Ted) Calvin Wallace, Jr. was a House Member of the Michigan Legislature for four terms and 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 he worked with Micro City Government. Cal Wallace was also a minister, he was pastor at Prall Street Church of Christ in Lexington. The church was founded by Cal and Bonnie Wallace, and began 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, he was over seven churches that were located in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Cincinnati, OH, and 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 he coached the football team. For additional information listen to the Edgar Wallace interview [info.], and the Thomas C. Wallace interview [info.]; see "Fayette radio pioneer 'Cal' Wallace dies," Lexington Herald-Leader, 01/04/1987, p.C7; and "Bonnie G. Wallace, ex-DJ at WLAP, 81" Lexington Herald-Leader, 03/23/2002, p.C4. See also the NKAA entries for Thomas C. Wallace, Ted Wallace, and Leula Wallace Hall.
Read about the Theodore Calvin Wallace, Sr. oral history interviews available in the University of Kentucky Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, item records are in the SPOKE Database.
Subjects: Activists, Civil Rights, Education and Educators, Journalists, Newspapers, Magazines, Book Publishers, Music Publishers, Kentucky African American Churches, Migration North, Miners, Mines, & Steel Mills, Politicians, Politics, Appointments & Elections, Radio, Religion & Church Work, Television
Geographic Region: Patton, Alabama / Harlan, Harlan County, Kentucky / West Virginia / Virginia / Cincinnati, Ohio / Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky