Monday, October 12, 2015

The Cradle Time Show

I became aware of this radio program because of a single short article in Jet Magazine; dated to May 21st 1959. In it, Susie Strother displays a New York Golden Mic award. McCall's magazine used to cite civic-minded achievers with these awards in the 1950s and 1960s. Jet noted she was the only "Negro" to win in the eighth annual Golden Mic awards. Her win was recorded in Sponsor Magazine, Broadcasting, New York Age, Jet, and other publications.

Some historians gloss over these home-maker programs but they paved the way for women as hosts, Emcees, DJs, programmers and managers. Susie Strother's success with Cradle Time allowed her to later become the stations first female DJ under the name "Miss Susie."

WJLB-AM signed on as WMBC-AM in 1926 at 250 watts. It became WJLB when it was purchased by John Lord Booth in 1939. Booth debuted WJLB-FM in 1941 signed on at 44.8 MHz testing on that frequency as W49D, simulcasting their AM programming. It was Michigan’s second FM radio station. In 1945 it was assigned 96.5, and the call sign WLOU. Three years later it moved to 97.9 with the new calls, WMZK for it's new beautiful music format. WJLB-AM wasn't "legitimately" an R&B station until the 1960s. Strother's presence on the station was, at least initially, within it's brokered programming. But by 1959 88% of WJLB's programming was black oriented...according to Sponsor magazine. More here.

Cradle Time show was a 10 minute program that ran five days a week. She announced area births on the air and discussed child care with new mothers. Strother won that Golden Mic award for "service to women" for her program which was geared toward mothers, and their newborn babies on WJLB in Detroit. The book Voice Over: The Making of Black Radio by William Barlow confirms what little we know about the program.