Friday, September 20, 2013
It was probably the success of black-oriented programming at KOWL-AM in Los Angeles and WDIA-AM in Memphis in 1948, and WERD-AM in Atlanta which inspired the white management of WMRY to try a R&B format and begin hiring black DJs. Other stations made the flip but didn't hire an all black air staff, stations like WEFC-AM in 1952 in Miami, WCIN-AM in Cincinnati in 1953, and New York City's WNJR-AM in 1954.
One the early hires at WMRY was Tex Stephens. He had a R&B program at 1230 WJBW-AM which broadcast from the Gladstone Hotel. On air he was "Mr. Cool." The station was all-white and he broadcast from Hayes' Chicken Shack. He moved to WMRY in 1949 and started the show “Tipping With Tex.” More here and here. Later they even hired Vernon Winslow Dr Daddy-O himself. In 1950 they also hired James Booker at the age of 11 to play piano on a gospel program. (This was long before he had the limp and the eye patch.) That is not to ignore Larry McKinley Ernie-the-Whip Bringier, Delores Estelle or Laura Lane. Each of them will have their own post eventually. The line up in that era was amazing.