Soulful DetroitArchives - January 2008 � Detroit radio history Previous Next

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Top of pageBottom of page (urbanradionationcom)
Username: urbanradionationcom

Post Number: 1
Registered: 12-2007
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Posted on Friday, December 21, 2007 - 5:19 pm: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm very interested in knowing about the Black radio history in Detroit. I would imagine WJLB and WCHB were apart of that history. I grew up on the East coast and really don't know anything about Detroit radio. I have a Black radio page on my website and I liked to add some information about Detroit. My site is If anyone can give me a website, photos, audio clips I would appreciate it. Thanks.
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douglasm (douglasm)
Username: douglasm

Post Number: 1864
Registered: 4-2004
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Posted on Friday, December 21, 2007 - 5:48 pm: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Hi there.....
.....see if you can find some Arbitron books from the early/mid '60's. Memory says Keener, and to a lesser extent CKLW had a sizable Black audience, but memory can be a dangerous thing.

You might want to contact Art Vuolo at in regards to airchecks. I'd have to find it somewhere in this mess I call a studio/office, but I believe his monumental (ask him, he'll tell you it is) 1970 "History Of Detroit Radio" show had a segment on Black/Urban radio, and he might....probably...has some airchecks in his archive. Art travels a great deal so he might be a bit slow to respond, but it's worth a shot.

Another place to ask would be The Michigan Radio/TV Buzzboard at A note to Mike Austerman at might also help.....

Good luck in your search. Keep us informed on what you find out.

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Erik T (erik_t)
Username: erik_t

Post Number: 371
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 - 2:04 pm: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I have an odd Detroit radio time capsule of sorts- an l.p. called Detroit 1968, which is a compilation of that year's events- Viet Nam, the Tigers, MLK, RFK and so on. Maybe this would be an intriguing listen? Maybe some of you already have this album?
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Ron Murphy (ron_murphy)
Username: ron_murphy

Post Number: 774
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 - 5:18 pm: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's a bit of information on Detroit's WJLB & WCHB radio stations:
WCHB was the first black owned station in the United States founded by 2 doctors Wendell Cox & Haley Bell, the first letter of their names made up the station call letters went on the air in 1956 as a 500 watter at 1440 AM and granted a license for the city of Inkster, Michigan but the offices and studio was located in Romulus a couple miles away which was about 15 miles west of downtown Detroit

WJLB was a 1000 watter at 1400AM with their offices & studios right in downtown Detroit, I'm not sure when John Lord Booth purchased the station from NBC but believe it was late 40's and changed the format to "The Station Of The Nations" and was the first to employ black DJ's and play R&B/Doo Wop in the Detroit area that other stations wouldn't touch such as Elvis Presley's Sun recordings because he sounded black.

The staff of WJLB would let me come in and watch when I was 13 years old because I didn't bother anyone, I would run downstairs and get coffee and sandwiches for them and they gave me all kinds of records, also in 61 WJLB became the first automated station in the country whereby all the records,ad's,ID's and theme songs were pre-taped on reel to reel and the DJ would just press a button for everything.

I have lots of great memories of these stations including trying to get them to play records I released on my own labels during the late 60's.
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mhc (mhc)
Username: mhc

Post Number: 133
Registered: 3-2006
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Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 - 8:10 pm: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A guy named David Carson, who I think used to check in on this forum, wrote a nice book a couple of years ago about the history of Detroit radio..
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marilyn_b (marilyn_b)
Username: marilyn_b

Post Number: 170
Registered: 10-2004
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Posted on Monday, December 24, 2007 - 12:08 pm: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I was a deejay on WJLB in 1957-58, after Frantic Ernie Durham. I have all kinds of photos from there plus a short tape from one of Ernie's shows a little later on. I also did record hops with Larry Dixon from WCHB. I remember it was a real pretty ranch-style house that had been converted into the radio station (in the middle of a cornfield). I can tell you quite a bit about both stations. Even though they had mostly black deejays (present company excepted) they played all kinds of music & featured all kinds of guest artists.

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Brian T. (mrclemma)
Username: mrclemma

Post Number: 1540
Registered: 4-2004
Posted From:
Posted on Tuesday, December 25, 2007 - 11:30 am: ��Edit PostDelete Post���Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

David Carson's book, Rockin' Down the Dial, is an excellent and essential history of Michigan radio. David also wrote the critically-acclaimed Grit, Noise and Revolution, which chronicled the Michigan rock scene of the late sixties and early seventies. Both books are chock-full of the type of information music heads crave.

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