(News One) — Throughout American history, Black disc jockeys did more than just spin records. They were, for African-American listeners across the country, the important and influential voices and leaders of their communities. Here are NewsOne’s top 20 Black radio jockeys of all time, picked for their pioneering spirit and influence. [DJs who made their name before becoming radio personalities have been excluded, but honorable mentions must go to folks like Steve Harvey, Rickey Smiley, and Yolanda Adams].
1) Jack L. Cooper: Widely considered to be the first African-American radio announcer, Jack L. Cooper’s “All Negro” radio show aired in the 1930s on Chicago’s WSBC. Cooper was succeeded in Black Chicago radio by very important air personalities like Al Benson — who brought the blues and jazz to Chicago on WGES — and his colleague Herb Kent, who made his mark after his move to WVON, where he was a strong voice for progress during the tumultuous Civil Rights movement.