An icon in the radio industry who rose from security guard to the height of his profession.
There is no question that Wayne K. Brown possessed a larger-than-life personality that brought vitality, a spirit of encouragement and a tenacious passion to everything and everyone he encountered. He was a man who brought an infectious sense of joy and excitement to everything he undertook, from working within the highest levels of the American broadcast industry to devoting his time in encouraging legions of young people.
Brown, who was one of the most influential African-Americans in the nation’s broadcast industry, was remembered today with warm and affectionate reminiscences at funeral services near Washington, D.C., the city where he grew up.
A longtime executive with Radio One in Atlanta, Brown died Oct. 6 following a battle with liver cancer. He was 55.
Speaker after speaker at the Ebenezer AME Church in Fort Washington, Maryland, painted a portrait of a man dedicated to excellence in communications and to helping the next generation of broadcasters.
Brown’s story was one of incredible persistence in business, characterized by his having once parlaying a job as a security guard at CBS in New York City into a role as one of the network’s leading sales executives in the radio division. He spent 13 years at CBS Headquarters in New York City.
He left New York to serve as president and general manager of CBS Radio’s urban "Power 98" WPEG in Charlotte. He became deeply immersed in the civic life of Charlotte, before moving to Atlanta.
He served as the marketing manager for Radio One, the nation’s largest radio broadcasting company that targets African-American and urban listeners. He worked in that position from 2000 until 2008, when he started his own business, WKB Enterprises, a company that focused on new media and brand marketing.
Wayne Brown was no ordinary communications executive. He was intensely involved in mentoring young professionals in the field of communications and broadcasting. In 1990, he endowed a scholarship in his name for African-American and Latino students at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, his alma mater.
He was associate publisher of Who's Who Publishing and a life member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He was also a member of the 100 Black Men of America and served on the boards of directors of the Atlanta March of Dimes, True Colors Theater Company and the Atlanta Association of Diabetes Walk America.
Brown is survived by his wife of 24 years, Neysa Dillon Brown; his two sons, Dylan, a student at Hampton University, and Drew, a student at Syracuse University. He is also survived by his mother, Clara Mae Brown.
For those of us who knew him, we were blessed to encounter this extraordinary man who loved and lived life with excitement and verve and who practiced to highest degree the tenants of friendship, kindness and generosity.
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