August 29: Today in 1979, the Mutual Black Network Became America’s First Fully Black-Owned Radio Syndicate

0 Posted by - March 13, 2024 - On This Date

Photo credits: MBN Radio Network

On Aug. 29, 1979, Sheridan Broadcasting Company, owned by African-American lawyer and educator Ronald R. Davenport, purchased the Mutual Black Network (MBN).

 MBN previously distributed news and public affairs programming to Black-orientate stations around the country, reaching millions of listeners, Encyclopedia of Radio author C. Sterling writes. The merger marked the beginning of the first completely Black-owned radio network in the world.

Davenport was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 21, 1936. After earning his B.S. degree in economics from Pennsylvania State University in 1958, Davenport went to law school; earning his LL.B. degree from Temple University in 1962, he went to Yale Law School for his LL.M. degree in 1963.

Davenport started his career as a professor of law at Duquesne University in 1963, where he remained for twenty years. When he took over as dean of the law school in 1970, Davenport became the first black man to be dean of a predominantly white school.

In 1982, Davenport became a partner at Buchanan Ingersoll Professional Corporation, and a fellow of the U.S. State Department, reviewing legal systems in South and East Asia.

Davenport also served as a consultant to the Constitutional Convention Preparatory Committee of Pennsylvania, and the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention.

Not content with simply the practice of law, in 1972, Davenport became chairman of Sheridan Broadcasting Corporation, a group he and his wife formed from the purchase of four radio stations.

By 1976, Sheridan Broadcasting owned half of the Mutual Black Network, later completing the buyout. Sheridan Broadcasting was heard through more than three hundred radio affiliates across the country.

He also served as the co-chairman of the American Urban Radio Networks.

Source: The BET Network, B. Middleton/

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