Pepper died at St. Francis Hospital after an extended illness, according to Forest Hill Midtown Funeral Home, where services were held Friday. WDIA-AM was the first station in the South with an all-black on-air staff. Clear Channel Broadcasting Inc. now owns the station, which reaches five states.
WDIA, which Pepper founded with Bert Ferguson in the 1940s, helped launch the careers of B.B. King and Isaac Hayes, among others, and eased the way for blacks throughout the country to break into broadcasting.
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