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Tribute To John Ed Willoughby

Sen. Richard C. Shelby

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Mr. President, I rise today to pay tribute to a good friend who recently retired after three decades on the radio. John Ed Willoughby, who has been a familiar voice on WAPI-AM 1070s morning talk-radio show, ``The Breakfast Club,'' signed off on April 15, 2005. John Ed's last day on the air was the 30th anniversary of his first day on the air: April 15, 1975. Over the years, I had many opportunities to join John Ed on the air, and I always appreciated his candid, honest, and humorous demeanor.

John Ed was born February 3, 1935, in Birmingham, AL. He attended West End High School, where he excelled on the athletic field as quarterback of the football team, and captain of the baseball and basketball teams.

He attended the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, which is where our friendship began. We met as students at the University of Alabama, and it was there that we both served as members of the Delta Chi fraternity.

His radio career began in 1975 on WSGN radio with cohost Tommy Charles. The duo was an instant success and became Birmingham's top rated radio morning show for 8\1/2\ years. John Ed and Tommy then moved to WVOK-AM/WQUS-FM for a short time before going to WERC radio in 1985. They were a talk radio force to be reckoned with, remaining No. 1 in Birmingham, until Tommy's passing in 1996. Following Tommy's death, Doug Layton joined John Ed and they stayed on the air until February of 1998. In June of 1998, John Ed joined his son, J Willoughby and Scott Michaels for a morning show devoted to talk radio on WAPI-AM called ``The Breakfast Club.'' He would finish out his career at WAPI.

I have had the pleasure of being interviewed by John Ed numerous times over the years. Whether it was in-studio in Birmingham, in Washington during one of his visits, or over the phone, John Ed has been informative and fair. His listeners could count on a funny and enlightening show every morning.

John Ed is blessed with a wonderful family. I suspect that his newfound free time will give him the opportunity to enjoy more time with his wife Jean, son J, daughter-in-law Kim and granddaughter Samantha Jean. Incidentally, J Willoughby has assumed the reins from his father, and is on the air with Richard Dixon.

John Ed has been a great friend to me and a familiar and loyal voice to so many in Alabama. He will be greatly missed by his devoted listeners, but I am certain they join me in wishing him the very best as he embarks on many new endeavors.