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Melody Spann-Cooper

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Information about Melody Spann-Cooper

Profile image of Melody Spann-Cooper

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Broadcast Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them.

Birthplace

Born:
8/8/1964
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
MediaMakers
Occupation(s):
Broadcast Chief Executive

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Green
Favorite Food:
Soul Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Christmas
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Hawaii
Favorite Quote:
When People Show You Who They Are, Believe Them.

Birthplace

Born:
8/8/1964
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Melody Spann-Cooper is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

As president and general manager of Chicago's WVON-AM, Melody Spann-Cooper heads the only African American-owned radio station in the nation's third-largest market. She is the first black woman in Chicago to hold this distinction.

In 1999, Spann-Cooper purchased a controlling interest in the Midway Broadcasting Company, the parent company of WVON, and was named Chairman of the Board. With the purchase, Spann-Cooper overcame the odds in a sector where minority ownership of commercial stations has fallen since the passage of the 1996 Telecommunications Reform Act favoring media conglomerates. Under Spann-Cooper's leadership as program director, WVON's revenues skyrocketed from $700,000 in 1994 to $2.4 million in 2002. Her extensive involvement in the community, along with WVON's high quality coverage of issues vital to African Americans' lives, has been crucial to the station's success.

Spann-Cooper was educated in Chicago Catholic institutions from elementary school through Loyola University, where she earned her B.A. in criminal justice. But Spann-Cooper's education in radio began closer to home - on the knee of her father, legendary Chicago disc jockey Pervis Spann, known in radio circles as "the Blues Man." With her father as mentor, Spann-Cooper began working at WVON at age fifteen, earning a full-time job as an on-air radio personality in 1980. In 1986, Spann-Cooper was named news director, and in 1994 she became president and general manager, a position she still holds in addition to chairman of the board and station owner. She vows to continue the march forward at the station, setting her sights on obtaining a twenty-four-hour broadcast license and expanding her public affairs and cultural programming.

In addition to extensive community service work, Spann-Cooper is a much sought-after panelist, political commentator and frequent guest on public radio and television talk shows such as CNN's Crossfire. She is a past vice president of broadcast affairs for the Chicago Association of Black Journalists.

See how Melody Spann-Cooper is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Melody Spann-Cooper's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Melody Spann-Cooper lists her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes why her father, HistoryMaker Pervis Spann, migrated to Chicago
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about her paternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about her parents' home town, Itta Bena, Mississippi
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how her parents met
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her father, HistoryMaker Pervis Spann
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes why her father missed her birth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her childhood household and her upbringing
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes why she converted to Catholicism
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her religious background, and why her parents enrolled her in Catholic school
  • Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes the type of student she was
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about the nuns who influenced her in grade school
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her childhood personality, interests and activities
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her experiences attending Mother McAuley Liberal Arts High School in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her father's business savvy
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about her dream of being a news anchor, and trying to please her father, HistoryMaker Pervis Spann
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about iconic voices of the 1960s and 1970s
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her social life as a high school student
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how changes in her social circle shaped her college experienced
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her experiences as a student at Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Melody Spann-Cooper remembers Mayor Harold Washington's mayoral campaign
  • Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how HistoryMaker Dr. Carol L. Adams influenced her as a student at Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes working part-time at Northwestern Hospital after graduating from Loyola University Chicago in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about the history of WVON
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about WVON being sold to Globetrotter Communications in 1971
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how her father, HistoryMaker Pervis Spann, and HistoryMaker Wesley South, retained the 1450 frequency after the sale of WVON
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes WVON in the 1980s
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes being mentored by HistoryMaker Wesley South
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how she became president and general manager of WVON
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how she became owner of WVON
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about building working relationships with her father, HistoryMaker Pervis Spann, and her mentor, HistoryMaker Wesley South
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about increasing the financial stability of WVON, and engaging with the community
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about the staff at WVON
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about WVON personalities Cliff Kelley and Monique Caradine
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about making WVON inclusive
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about the "WVON Family"
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about the significance of African American talk radio
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes what drives her work ethic
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about WVON's decision to support HistoryMaker Roland Burris over Paul Vallas during the 1998 Illinois gubernatorial race
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Melody Spann-Cooper comments on the African American community's need to make informed political decisions
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes WVON's role in the African American community
  • Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes how WVON responds to the political landscape
  • Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes developing programming with her staff
  • Tape: 4 Story: 11 - Melody Spann-Cooper shares her hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes moments of which she is proudest
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Melody Spann-Cooper describes her goals for WVON
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Melody Spann-Cooper reflects upon her legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Melody Spann-Cooper talks about how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Melody Spann-Cooper narrates her photographs