Saluting Ed Mendel
At the end of next month, the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame will be holding their inaugural awards dinner in Marietta. One of the charter inductees will be Columbus GA disk jockey and entrepreneur Ed Mendel.
There are a ton of reasons why Mendel is a qualified candidate for induction into the HOF and there’s a lot that I’ve already written about Mr. Mendel on the Georgia Soul web site. In addition to being a well respected jock in the community, Mendel was also a contributor to the greater Columbus community. On the business side, he owned record stores, promoted concerts, ran a record label and jocked on Columbus radio. He was playing jazz, R&B and gospel over Columbus airwaves before anyone.
But more importantly, Mendel used his business acumen to not only raise his family, but also to give back to the community; the black community in particular. Say whatever you want about the South during the 50s and 60s. Most of the time you’re probably going to be right. But Ed Mendel wasn’t only filling a hole in the Columbus market by playing R&B on the radio, selling R&B records and booking soul artists like Jackie Wilson and James Brown in Columbus. He was also paving the way for black radio DJ’s, giving meaningful jobs in his record stores to local black youths, advertising in the local black newspaper and making a positive impact on the community through music.
To be sure, Mendel knew what he was doing in the music industry too. He helped Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson get their start and score their first huge hit “Lover’s Holiday” and also forged a friendship with some business benefits with Roscoe Robinson.
You can learn in much more detail about Ed in the article linked above, and if you’ve seen the article before, check out the updated “Ed Mendel Jukebox” page. I’ve added a couple more records that I only just got copies of recently, taken down the old real audio files and replaced them with mp3 files. Granted, I kept the bit rate low on the mp3 files so they wouldn’t be CD quality by design, but they’ll sound pretty good on your computer.
And by the way, dig back into the Georgia Soul Blog archives for this related post about one of my favorite recordings that Ed Mendel released, by Billy Reed.