Ode Audio: Black Radio Yet Alive @ 75

Black radio has survived despite years of segregation and exclusion

Memphis, TN, Sept. 30, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In 2023, Ode Audio will celebrate 75 years of existence for Black and Urban format radio.  Black radio was born in 1948 at WDIA Radio in Memphis, TN.  The Black radio format was born, meaning Black on air personalities playing Black music for Black audiences.  WDIA was not Black-owned.  Black ownership did not happen until a year later when bank president and accountant Jesse Blayton bought WERD in Atlanta for $50,000 in 1949.

Anybody that’s 75 years old, especially if they lived in the South, remembers segregation…vividly.  Riding in the back of the bus, segregated water fountains, restrooms, one day a week for Blacks to visit the Zoo or amusement park and segregated seating in the back or balcony of the movie theatres were all the order of the day.  But few people today could imagine or believe the blatant racism and staunch segregation in the radio and the music industries. 

Black radio stations were initially “segregated” by dial position since mostly all the Black radio stations broadcast on higher frequencies on the right side of the radio dial.  But the most decisive divider was the music itself.  White radio stations had an “approved” playlist which only had a smattering of Black recording artists.  Were it not for Black radio, the world would not have known James Brown or Aretha Franklin or B.B. King or Isaac Hayes.  They all had to cross over.

“Black radio has had to fight tooth and nail for everything they’ve gotten, expressed Sherman Kizart of Kizart Media Partners.  Kizart serves on FCC committees and is one of the most important and respected people in the radio industry.  “Just as it has been a struggle for African American people in this country, through it all, Black radio hasn’t just survived it found a way to rise and thrive.”

Black and independently owned radio stations have been trusted voices for generations in Black communities that they serve.  The Play Ode mobile app is the first app to exclusively aggregate and stream some of America’s best Black and independently-owned radio stations as well as podcasts, all on one mobile app.  “I was born and raised in Memphis listening to WDIA which was the prototype for the format but also the stellar example for how Black radio must super-serve Black communities,” expressed Howard Robertson, CEO and creator of Ode Audio.  “Play Ode will continuously honor the legacy and tradition of Black radio and never forget.”   The Play Ode app is available at the App Store and Google Play.

The Black Radio 75th anniversary commemoration will kick off at the 46th NABOB (National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters) Fall Broadcast Conference & The 22nd Power of Urban Radio Forum at the MGM National Harbor Resort & Casino, Washington, DC October 19-21, 2022.  For more information log onto nabob.org.

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CONTACT: Adrienne Hines Ode Audio ahines@trustmkt.com