After nearly 20 years of attempts by Black entrepreneurs to purchase a radio station, Jesse Blayton Sr. opened the first Black-owned station, WERD, on October 3, 1949, in Atlanta.
It wasn’t Blayton’s first time making history. In 1928, he became Georgia’s first African-American certified public accountant. A few years earlier, he and a group of Black businessmen founded the Mutual Federal Savings and Loan Association, for which he served as president. He also taught at Atlanta University.
When Blayton bought the 1,000-watt radio station, he hired his son Jesse Jr. as station manager. From sunrise to sunset, it featured a mix of musical genres, from gospel to rhythm and blues, spun by “Jockey Jack” Gibson, one of the nation’s most famous Black radio announcers.