Part 1: North Carolina's First Radio Stations, Part 2: Radio Enters Its "Golden Age" in North Carolina, Part 3: National Networks and Popular Local Shows and Personalities, Part 4: Radio Broadcasting and the Civil Rights Movement, Part 5: Growth of FM Stations and Increasing Corporate Ownership
Radio Broadcasting and the Civil Rights Movement
While many working in radio were content to entertain in their designated time slots, Crutchfield and others became part of a bigger change largely made possible by the support of the airwaves. By the late 1950s a new ethnic diversity had arisen to complement the programming diversity made possible in the previous decade. Charlotte stations WBT and WGIV were starting to aim a majority of their programming at a black audience. In Winston-Salem, the first black-oriented AM station, WAAA, hooked listeners with its popular features like Oscar "Daddy-Oh" Alexander's hit program Daddy-Oh on the Patio. By this point, the opinionated Nathaniel Tross, under Crutchfield's guidance, was delivering blistering editorials calling for radical action against segregation. At WGIV disc jockeys such as Eugene "Genial Gene" Potts used a more family-oriented tack to advocate patience and tolerance, while drawing on their connections with the minority community to defuse tensions rather than to accentuate them.
But tensions did flare. Following the 1957 desegregation of the schools, North Carolina's Lumbee Indian and black populations launched a huge campaign against the Ku Klux Klan. Crutchfield, along with the powerful minority voice in the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, staged a number of events focusing on empowerment and education. Of these, the landmark race relations-themed "Project '60," broadcast on WBT in November 1959-an event attended by thousands that far exceeded its allotted time slot-arguably was the most crucial in establishing radio as a medium for a new and growing voice in southern social discourse.
1 January 2006 | McFee, Philip