WDIA celebrates 60th anniversary - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Ben Watson

WDIA celebrates 60th anniversary

WDIA -- the first American radio station programmed by African Americans -- is celebrating its 60th anniversary.

WDIA became the first black format radio station to go on the air back in 1948, according to program director Bobby O'Jay.

"Before 1948, WDIA was a country-western station and the station was not making any money. So the owners -- Mr. Pepper and Bert Ferguson -- decided to seek out a new format. So, they decided to do a rhythm and blues format," said O'Jay.

The trailblazing Memphis station helped launch the careers of music legends such as B.B. King and Rufus Thomas.

Along with O'Jay, Bev Johnson, Steve Ladd, and a host of other talented announcers keep the hits spinning these days at the legendary station. In addition to serving Memphis, WDIA serves music lovers all over the globe who can tune in on the station's Web site.

On Saturday, April 19th stars like Bobby Womack and The Manhattans will honor WDIA's 60 year anniversary with a special concert at DeSoto Civic Center. O'Jay will be honored, too, for his 25 years behind the mic. This special event will honor WDIA's rich history, influential music, and remarkable people.


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