Home History WDIA: The first all-black radio station

WDIA: The first all-black radio station

by Chris Butsch
guitar player

In 1947, WDIA launched in Memphis offering listeners a mix of country western and light pop. The station remained unpopular until Nat D. Williams started “Tan Town Jubilee” in 1948, the first radio program to appeal to African-American listeners.

After switching to all-black programming, WDIA became Memphis’ most popular station. Soon, it increased its range to 50,000 watts, reaching 10% of America’s black population.

In 1949, a young disc jockey joined the station with a special love for the blues. His fellow staff members affectionately dubbed him “Beale Street Blues Boy,” eventually shortened to B.B. King.

Chris Butsch

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