Arts and Entertainment

Radio Shows

What changes occurred in black radio of the 1940s and 1950s?

The 1940s and 1950s brought a change in black radio shows, and reached the fast-growing, Southern-black-consumer market. Of popular appeal were The Nat King Cole Show, singer Mahalia Jackson’s gospel show, and Destination Freedom, a Chicago-based show that highlighted historical figures. As popular as Nat King Cole’s show was, it was short-lived because of lack of sponsors. Black disk jockeys also emerged during this time and abandoned standard English in favor of black vernacular language, slang, and catchy phases. Pioneer disk jockeys included Al Benson (called the “Godfather of Black Radio in Chicago”), Jack the Rapper Gibson, Jocko Henderson, and Dr. Hepcat.

Nat King Cole poses for a publicity shot for his television show, which premiered in 1956. Cole also had a popular radio show before that.


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