Friday, November 24, 2006

WDIA Founder John R. Pepper Dies

Posted By on Fri, Nov 24, 2006 at 4:00 AM

The Associated Press is reporting that John R. Pepper II, co-founder of the first nationwide radio station with programming targeting a black audience, died Monday at 91.

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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