WGPR Detroit: The First Black-Owned TV and Radio Station

0 Posted by - February 6, 2019 - ENTERTAINMENT

Detroit’s WGPR was the first TV station owned wholly by Blacks in 1975 and in 1964 it was the first radio station to do the same.

 

WGPR RADIO

107.5 WGPR was established in early December 1961 with an easy listening format. The station was picked up by William V. Banks and the International Free and Accepted Modern Masons in 1964 and had a format change towards R&B, soul, and gospel.

As the 1980s and 1990 rolled around, the format stuck with Adult Contemporary and Oldies. Jazz was mixed in and the station was known as 107.5 The Rhythm and Jazzy 107.5 at different times. A trademark of the station at this time was Old School Saturdays which played soul, funk, disco, etc.

Radio One got an operating share of the network in late 2011. Since October of that year, the station has been known as Hot 107.5 with a hip-hop and R&B format.

 

WGPR-TV

Banks and company were given a permit to run television in 1973. It would go live in 1975 and was an independent station until 1995. Tthe significant shows aired included “The Scene” and its replacement “Contempo.” Both were the same as “Soul Train” and aired on Fridays in 1975 and 1988 respectively.

The station also featured older and low rated shows from larger networks. This as a result of other higher rated independent stations getting the show rights to recent programming. The station also suffered from a poor signal in comparison to independent competitors WKBD and WXON at the time. In the 1990s, WGPR was one of the last throwbacks to older TV of the time production-wise.

In 1995, the station was scooped up by CBS and its call sign changed to WWJ-TV, after CBS’ AM radio station in Detroit.

SOURCES
http://www.freep.com/story/entertainment/television/2016/01/29/black-broadcast-pioneer-wgpr-honored-history-exhibit/79518026/
http://internationalmasons.org/wgpr-tv—radio.html

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