WERD oral history interviews
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WERD oral history interviews

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Auburn Avenue Research Library
Creator: WERD (Radio station : Atlanta, Ga.).
Title: WERD oral history interviews
Dates: 1989
Quantity: 20.0 items
Abstract:The collection consists of twenty segments compiled and produced by Harold Lamar and broadcast from October 3-7, 1989 on radio station WVEE-WAOK (Atlanta, Ga.). The segments document the history of radio station WERD from 1949 until its demise in 1970. Topics discussed include the purchase of WERD by Jesse B. Blayton, moving the station from downtown Atlanta to Auburn Avenue, Jesse B. Blayton and the Blayton family, the relationship between black and white announcers or staff at the station, why the station did not survive the 1970s, WERD programming, and WERD's impact upon the Atlanta community. Interviewees include Paul Brown, William Boyd, Herb Gershon, Jack Gibson, Ken Knight, Esmond Patterson, and Mack Saddler.
Identification: aarl90-008

Biographical/Historical Note

In 1949, radio station WERD (Atlanta, Ga.) became the first black owned and operated radio station in the United States. The station operated until 1970.

Scope and Content Note

In October, 1949, radio station WERD changed ownership and became the nation's first black-owned and operated broadcast station. This collection of Audiocassette tapes documents programmed interviews of individuals who were instrumental in the early development of the radio station.

Radio station WERD operated from 1949 to 1970. It served the Atlanta community for twenty-one years providing information on and about local, regional and national news events.

This historical documentary compiled and produced by Mr. Harold Lamar consists of twenty (20) segments broadcasted from October 3 - 7, 1989 on WVEE-WAOK in Atlanta, Georgia.

Index Terms

African American radio stations--Georgia.
Atlanta (Ga.)--Race relations.
Blayton family
Blayton, Jesse B., 1897-1977
Radio broadcasters--Georgia.
Radio stations--Georgia--Employees.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Item, WERD oral history interviews, Archives Division, Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.


Restrictions on Use

There are no restrictions on research use of this collection.

Copyright Restrictions

Prior permission from the Research Library must be obtained in writing before any portion of this collection can be published or reproduced.

Container List



1-4[History of WERD], October 1989
The following segments chronicle the history of the radio station, from the purchase in 1949 to its demise in 1970. These segments of interviews are narrated by Harold Lamar; producer, compiler and news anchor for radio stations WVEE-WAOK.


5"The Lunch Call Show", October 1989
With Herb Gershon and Jack Gibson. WERD was a smorgasbord of programming and this was one of the most popular shows on WERD. It was hosted by Jack Gibson and Herb Gershon; a black and white announcer team which were the forerunner in the "zany" team broadcasts now very popular in modern day radio.


6Ken Knight Salutes WERD on Their 5th Anniversary - 1954, October 1989
Ken Knight was the first program manager for WERD. In 1954, he paid tribute to the radio station on its 5th anniversary. Knight highlighted early talents which appeared on the radio station during its' early years and provided biographical and historical information as well.


7Professor William Boyd's Commentaries, October 1989
Professor William Boyd was a Political Science educator at Atlanta University and provided daily commentaries on local news events for the station from 1949 to 1959. Noted for "biting" commentaries, this segment features an obituary to Atlanta educator Dr. Charles L. Harper and his viewpoint on the media harassment of Rufus Clement, Atlanta's first black school board member and the President of Atlanta University.


8"The Atlanta Confidential Show", October 1989
This was WERD's news magazine show which was hosted by WERD's third program director, Paul Brown and co-host Rosa Ragland. This show featured obscured trivia to local community events.


9Radio Personality - Mr. Esmond Patterson, October 1989
Esmond Patterson, an Atlanta native, began his radio broadcast career on WERD. Mr. Patterson career on WERD spans thirty-four years (34). In this interview he discusses his association with the radio station, how he was "talked" into becoming an announcer and how WERD affected the Atlanta community.


10-12Paul EX Brown and WERD, October 1989
Paul Brown joined the staff of WERD in 1949 as a freelance announcer. He started his radio career at two local stations in Alabama before joining WERD. In the first segment of this three part interview, Brown chronicles the behind the scenes activities which resulted in the sale of the station to Jesse B. Blayton and subsequently the move from downtown Atlanta to Auburn Avenue. In the second and third segments, Brown discusses WERD successes, failures and demise in the seventies.


13-14Herb Gershon and WERD, October 1989
Herb Gershon became a member of radio station WERD prior to the sale of the station to Jesse B. Blayton. In these segments, Gershon discusses his career at the station,' about being white and working on Auburn Avenue.


15-17Mack Saddler and WERD, October 1989
Mack Saddler discusses her role at WERD and what it was like to work for J. B. Blayton, Sr. She also talks about the staff, the office, the Blayton family and why the station did not survive in the 70s and beyond.


18-20Jack "Jocky" Gibson and WERD, October 1989
Jack Gibson joined the WERD family on October 3, 1949, in these segments Gibson discusses how J. B. Blayton, Jr., the owner's son, lured him to Atlanta. The relationship between white and black announcers at the station and his interpretation on why the magic did not last at WERD.