These days Black radio programming is ubiquitous, but it wasn't always that way. After nearly 20 years of attempts by African-American entrepreneurs to purchase a station, Jesse B. Blayton Sr. opened the first Black-owned radio station WERD on Oct. 3, 1949.
It wasn't Blayton's first time making history. In 1928, he became Georgia's first African-American certified public accountant. A few years earlier, he and a group of African-American businessmen founded the Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association, for which he served as president. He also taught at Atlanta University.
When Blayton bought the 1,000-watt radio station, he hired his son Jesse Jr. as station manager. From sunrise to sunset, it featured a mix of musical genres, from gospel to rhythm and blues, spun by "Jockey Jack" Gibson, one of the nation's most famous Black radio announcers.
The station's success enabled the Blaytons to purchase a second station, KREL, in the Houston market.
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