TUSCUMBIA – Looking back, Kevin Self laughs when recalling something that he had thought was just a normal part of a boy’s life.

Son of radio icon Mitch Self, Kevin Self said being around big names in the music industry was as routine for his siblings and him as playing a game of backyard football.

“It was really no big deal to us,” said Self, whose father died in 1990. “We didn’t know any better. We had a big backyard, so when Rick Hall brought the Osmond Brothers here and they were just a bunch of boys like us, and they wanted to play, guess where they played?”
Mitchell Self’s career and impact were and continue to be important, and that fact is not lost on officials with the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, the first Alabama Music Hall of Fame Advocacy Award will go to Mitch Self.
Kevin Self will accept it on behalf of his father and family, and admits it will be difficult to find words that will be adequate enough to express their immense gratitude.
“It’s hard to accept an award like that and find the right thing to say,” he said. “It’s an honor as a family to see even 30 years after his death that he is recognized for being an important part in that music era – that music era that held a lot of magic in this town.”
At only age 15, Mitch Self attended the Radio Operational Engineering School in Burbank, California. At 16, he took a job at WJBB in Haleyville. A year later, he became an announcer at WAJF in Decatur, where he remained until 1955.
He moved to Oxford, Mississippi, to become program director for WSUH for its on-air debut on May 1, 1955. Four years later, he and two partners bought the Dyersburg, Tennessee, station WTRO.
In 1961, he returned home, trading his interest in the Dyersburg station for an interest in WLAY in Muscle Shoals, where he also served as sales manager and morning personality on the air.
Self’s ventures continued in 1970 when he and a pair of partners bought WMSL in Decatur. He traded interest in WMSL a year later for a larger interest in WLAY.
There, he served as president and general manager of WLAY’s AM and FM stations from 1971 until his death on Jan. 8, 1990.
Self had a major influence in the broadcast industry, serving as president of the Alabama Broadcasters Association in 1982 and member of the board of directors of the National Association of Broadcasters representing Alabama and Georgia in 1986. He was re-elected to that position in 1988.
He was very community-oriented, as well, serving in such positions as Board of Directors at First National Bank of Tuscumbia and Board of Directors at Colonial Bank and was founder and chairman of the Board of Directors of First Metro Bank in Muscle Shoals.
Self also served as Chairman of Deacons at Woodward Avenue Baptist Church in Muscle Shoals and raised Santa Gertrudis cattle in Colbert County.
Throughout his career, Self’s relationship with local recording studio owners blossomed. He often played a key role in introducing the public to locally produced music.
Legendary FAME founder Rick Hall was among them, and the Self family became entwined in that. Kevin Self recalls being at WLAY in the mid- to late 1970s, when he would play records that ultimately would become hits. This was during a time when producers brought records to stations so they would get airplay.
“As far as helping the local studiOs getting the music out there, radio was extremely important back then to music,” he said. “It was how music got out to the public.”
He said it was a magical time for the Shoals music industry and his father was in the midst of it.
“Any of the stuff Rick Hall was producing, he would bring here,” Self said. “Rick Hall would be in his car, judging from the A mix to the B mix and maybe back to the A mix, to see which would sound best on the radio.”
The impact of those sessions and radio airings was immense then and continues to leave a lasting legacy in music.
“People were working hard at their craft, not necessarily thinking ‘we’re making history here’ but they were,” Self said. “That was a fun thing to do but it turned out to be important.”

Comments are closed.