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Black History Month: Meet Wilbur Graham Jr. 

Wilbur

Meet Wilbur Graham Jr., he is the Head Carpenter of The Longacre Theatre on Broadway, in New York City. The Philadelphia native has been doing stage work and technical management for almost fifty years. Graham’s career initially started out in broadcasting at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey in 1967.  

As a broadcaster, Wilbur says he has moved to and worked in various places. “I moved to Denver, Colorado to work at KBPI-FM. After Denver, I worked in Indianapolis, for WTLC from 1972-74. And for a while, I also worked at WLWI Channel 13 in Indianapolis, where David Letterman started as a weathercaster and booth announcer,” he added. “I was his floor director (now they call them stage managers) and in 1977, I moved to Biloxi, Mississippi to work at another radio station, WTAM-FM, in Gulfport Mississippi.” 

While living in Biloxi, Wilbur says the Mississippi Coast Colosseum opened and a friend of his who knew of his technical skills asked if he wanted to sign a pledge card for the union, Local 674 Biloxi/Gulfport. “That was the first time I signed a pledge card for the union, in 1976. I was an active charter member of Local 674 from 1976 until I moved to Philadelphia in 1981.” 

However, after difficulties in finding a job in Philadelphia it would be one Saturday in 1983, when Wilbur traveled to Atlantic City, just an hour and a half from Philly, while walking along the boardwalk on a date, he noticed a big hole in the ground and a huge sign that said, “The future home of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Applications are now being accepted, Opening March 1984.” Willbur says he applied for the technical supervisor job, but he got the position as a Stagehand in their carpentry area. “That was the opening. Four years later, in 1988, I was promoted to the Technical Supervisor of Carpentry,” he added. “I supervised a crew of eighteen. I was responsible for all areas. Lighting, Stage carpentry, you name it.”  

Today, the 74-year-old is still keeping busy and enjoying life behind the scenes. “I’m currently working on earning my Bachelors, I know I don’t need it, but I want to get it just for self-fulfillment. I’ve had a beautiful time in this industry. I am Loving Life. So Far So Good! 

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