Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio
Airs Friday, February 21, 2020, at 10 p.m. "Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio" examines the legacy of Black radio, focusing on the legendary WDAS in Philadelphia. The story of Black radio in Philadelphia is actually the story of Black music, of civil rights and progress in the African-American community, and of how the radio medium has changed in the last century. The documentary special is hosted by legendary Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP) music producer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Kenny Gamble.
Today, a lot of people don't know what the term "Black radio" means. But starting in the 1950s, Black radio used to be one of the most important institutions in the Black community, not only in Philadelphia, but in cities across the U.S. Stations like WDAS in Philly, WDIA in Memphis, WWRL and WBLS in NYC, WHUR and WOL in DC, WERD in Atlanta, WVON in Chicago, WLAC in Nashville, WMRY in New Orleans, and KWBR in San Francisco featured radio personalities with styles all their own who played records you'd never get to hear on mainstream radio. Beyond being hip radio stations, these were pipelines into the Black community that played pivotal roles in the Civil Rights Movement.
The documentary features conversations with well-known disc jockeys, radio professionals, record company executives, musicians, journalists, and scholars. Listeners will hear first-person accounts of Civil Rights events and rare archival audio of Black radio air checks from the 60s and 70s, including a 1964 interview with Malcolm X, just a few months before he was assassinated. The documentary also includes a soundtrack featuring R&B, jazz, gospel, and soul hits from the 50s through the 80s, especially from the Sound of Philadelphia.