The movement through the airwaves: Baltimore radio host recalls how 'Black Radio' began

Briding the Gap
Posted at 5:00 AM, Feb 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-15 08:03:17-05

Before television invaded our living rooms, radio painted the pictures of the world through the airwaves. For African-Americans radio was the first place that captured the "black experience" in America. 

In the early years of radio, blacks were not given the opportunity to host broadcast shows and often black artists' songs weren't played because of the country's racial climate. 

Long-time Baltimore radio host, Lee Michaels recalled hearing black radio hosts for the first time.

"As a kid I can remember vividly listening to the radio and these personalities, that I deemed bigger than life, he said. Guys that had names like Kelson 'Chop-Chop' Fisher, Sir Johnny O, Fat Daddy, Diamond Jim Sears, Hot Rod, Aunt Pauline Wells and Bishop Naomi Durant." 

Initially, hosting radio shows wasn't an easy transition for black, but it wasn't long before black radio was the voice for communities during history's most trying times. 

"One of the mainstays of the Civil Rights Movement was people like Hail Jackson. The radio personalities who were out on the forefront leading the charge and echoing the concerns of the struggle of the Civil Rights," Michaels said. 

Though radio has evolved over the last four decades, people who have seen it's growth still believe there is more to be done. 

"I think that if there is one thing that needs to be done that will enhance the bridging of the generational gaps is more local ownership. We need more local ownership and African-American ownership. We only have a handful of African-American owners in radio," Michaels said. 

Bridging the Gap celebrates Black History Month by sharing the stories of Baltimore's African American history.

Download the ABC2 News app for the iPhone, Kindle and Android