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Bev Smith

Radio talk show host Bev Smith was born March 4, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Smith is the eldest of six children born to Isabel and John Sloan. She was raised in the Homewood neighborhood of Pennsylvania, and graduated from Westinghouse High School. In 1961, Smith entered beautician school, to raise money for college, and a year later enrolled in Clark’s Business School. In 1963, she took classes at Robert Morris Junior College.

In 1969, Smith was appointed office manager for the National Conference of Christians and Jews, under Ralph King. In 1971, she was named Pittsburgh’s first African American consumer affairs investigative reporter for WPXI Television. She was then hired as news and public affairs director for Sheridan Broadcasting in 1975, and hosted a talk show on Sheridan's flagship station, WAMO. In 1977, Smith became the director of consumer affairs, as well as energy coordinator of her county in Pennsylvania. That same year, she moved her radio show to KDKA, where she also hosted a television show called Vibrations. Smith then became a radio host for Miami’s WGBS (now WNMS) in 1979, and Orlando’s WKIS in 1985. In 1988, Smith began hosting a local radio program in Washington D.C., as well as the national Black Entertainment Television talk show "Our Voices," which she hosted for over thirteen years.

In 1998, Smith became the host of "The Bev Smith Show," on American Urban Radio Networks, which made her the only African American female radio talk show host with a nationally syndicated show in the country. Smith signed off the air as host of her show in 2011.

Smith has received nearly 300 awards and recognitions for her contributions to radio and television, including the Spirit of Democracy Award, the Radio Air Crystal Award and the prestigious Max Robinson Award. She has also been selected by Talkers magazine as one of the most important radio talk show hosts in America.

Bev Smith was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.154

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/9/2014

Last Name

Smith

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Middle Name

Lyn

Schools

Crescent Elementary School

Westinghouse Academy

Duff's Business School

Robert Morris College

Baxter Elementary School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Beverly (Bev)

Birth City, State, Country

Pittsburgh

HM ID

SMI31

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Stand Up, Be Counted, Get Involved.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Birth Date

3/4/1943

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Pittsburgh

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Yellow Cake With Chocolate Icing

Short Description

Radio talk show host Bev Smith (1943 - ) hosted the nationally syndicated talk show “The Bev Smith Show” from 1998 to 2011.

Employment

National Conference of Christians and Jews

WIICTV (Now WPXI)

Allegheny County Government

KDKA Radio

KDKA-TV

WBBS

WKYS Radio

Daytona Beach Channel 2

WTAE Radio

WRC Radio

Black Entertainment Television

CNN

MSNBC

PBS Washington

American Urban Radio Networks

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bev Smith's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bev Smith lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bev Smith describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bev Smith describes her maternal family's home in Danville, Virginia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bev Smith talks about her mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bev Smith describes her father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bev Smith talks about her brother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bev Smith describes her father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bev Smith talks about her father's labor activism

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bev Smith describes how her parents met, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bev Smith describes how her parents met, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bev Smith talks about her father's service in the Civilian Conservation Corps

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bev Smith talks about her mother's education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bev Smith lists her siblings, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bev Smith lists her siblings, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bev Smith describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bev Smith describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bev Smith remembers moving from the Hill District to Homewood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bev Smith describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bev Smith remembers her father's musical tastes

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bev Smith remembers the Pittsburgh Courier

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bev Smith talks about her early interest in art

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bev Smith recalls her early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bev Smith remembers her parents' emphasis on politics and current events

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bev Smith recalls her favorite television and radio programs

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bev Smith talks about the black community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bev Smith talks about her schooling in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bev Smith talks about her family's political affiliations

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bev Smith remembers the gentrification of the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Bev Smith talks about her parents' strict discipline

Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Bev Smith recalls her influences at Westinghouse High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Bev Smith talks about her speaking voice

Tape: 3 Story: 13 - Bev Smith describes her relationship with the Kennedy family

Tape: 3 Story: 14 - Bev Smith remembers the debate club at Westinghouse High School

Tape: 3 Story: 15 - Bev Smith talks about her aspiration to attend college

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bev Smith recalls her responsibilities as the oldest of six siblings

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bev Smith talks about her experiences of bullying

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bev Smith remembers Duff's Business Institute in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bev Smith talks about her involvement in the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bev Smith remembers Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bev Smith recalls the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bev Smith remembers her ex-husband

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bev Smith talks about her work with the National Conference of Christians and Jews

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bev Smith remembers David Chase

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bev Smith recalls her start as a news reporter on WIIC-TV

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bev Smith talks about the reprisals against her investigative reporting

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bev Smith remembers Fred Rogers of 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bev Smith describes her transition from WIIC-TV to WAMO Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bev Smith talks about her reputation in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bev Smith remembers the black community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bev Smith remembers her programs on WAMO Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bev Smith talks about the problems facing the black community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bev Smith remembers her time at the Xerox Corporation

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bev Smith describes her return to WAMO Radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Bev Smith remembers her weekend talk show on KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Bev Smith talks about the struggle of black steelworkers in Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Bev Smith remembers working on Edward M. Kennedy's presidential campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 13 - Bev Smith talks about her advocacy at WYCB Radio

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bev Smith remembers moving to Miami, Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bev Smith talks about her experiences as a radio personality in Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bev Smith remembers working for WRC Radio in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bev Smith remembers balancing her radio talk show and her program on BET

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bev Smith talks about the racist origins of marijuana criminalization

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bev Smith remembers Mayor Marion Barry

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bev Smith talks about her grassroots organizing efforts

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bev Smith talks about the changes in the role of black media

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Bev Smith reflects upon the downfall of the black media industry

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bev Smith reflects upon her time at BET

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bev Smith talks about her stint as commentator on the American Urban Radio Networks

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Bev Smith talks about selecting topics for her radio programs

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Bev Smith talks about her network of contacts

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Bev Smith describes the origin of her nickname

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Bev Smith remembers leaving the American Urban Radio Networks

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Bev Smith talks about independently producing 'The Bev Smith Show'

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Bev Smith talks about the future of black radio

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Bev Smith describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Bev Smith reflects upon her career

Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Bev Smith reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Bev Smith talks about her family

Tape: 7 Story: 13 - Bev Smith talks about the threats against her life

Tape: 7 Story: 14 - Bev Smith describes how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Bev Smith talks about her books

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

3$1

DATitle
Bev Smith describes her transition from WIIC-TV to WAMO Radio
Bev Smith remembers moving to Miami, Florida
Transcript
Now, in '75 [1975], you joined Sheridan Broadcasting [Sheridan Broadcasting Network] (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, that was WAMO. That's where the shootings and the prisons, and all the other things.$$Well, tell us about how you, how that--were you recruited by Sheridan?$$No. I was at Channel 11 [WIIC-TV; WPXI-TV, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], and they hired a new news director after By Williams left. And he did not like women in the newsroom, white or black. But in my particular place, he did not like. And I had just returned from Washington, D.C., where I had been named one of the fifty outstanding women in America. And I walked into the newsroom, and he used the N word and he used the B word, and he said that I was fired. So, I walked--I didn't have a car in those days. And the hill was like this, Federal Street; the television station sat up there. And I walked down that hill, all the way into town, to the Urban League [Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania] where my husband [Smith's ex-husband, Ronald Smith] worked. And I called my uncle Walt [ph.] at the radio station. And he said, "You want a job?" Now, my salary was here, black radio was here. But I had a child [Heather Williams], I was separated, I had to work. And so, I said, "Yes." So, I went from being an NB to the news director for WAMO Radio [Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania], all in the same day.$$Now, did you consider a lawsuit?$$I did sue them.$$Okay.$$I did sue them. But in those days, a lawsuit was not like it is here. So now you sue and have laws--and you have discriminatory laws, and all the kind of things. We're talking about the '60s [1960s], we're talking about the early '70s [1970s]. Those kinds of things did not exist. But I had Teitelbaum [Hubert Irving Teitelbaum], a man who was a fabulous lawyer. And we got a cash settlement. And at the time, it looked like a lot of money. But in lieu of everything that I went through at that time, it wasn't. But I was able to get money. But the funny thing about it is that was not the station; that was one man at the station, who had a horrible reputation to begin with. Because when I returned to Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania] in February of 2001--2001--some of the most interesting times that I had in television, I had at Channel 11, where my career began. Because I was on MSNBC, and they would have me go up to Channel 11. Isn't life interesting? And right now, I think that the operations manager that they have now, Mark Barash, is one of the finest individuals I know, very kind man. But he wasn't a part of that; he wasn't even there when that happened. There was one man who had a reputation. And shortly after I left, he did the same thing to the white woman there, Eleanor Schano [Eleanor Schano Feeney], and she used my lawyer to help her.$Okay. So, well, tell us about this move to Florida. Well, now how did this take place?$$Oh, this was wild. I was working at, I was the first black to have a talk show on KDKA [KDKA Radio]. And it was very, very popular. And the news director at that time was a man by the name of Lee Fowler, at KDKA here in Pittsburgh [Pennsylvania]. And he said to me, I used to say, "God bless you," which is what I say now. And I'm never going to stop saying that. So, he sent me a note, because a listener told him that I was preaching religion. I don't know how, God bless you is a religion. But anyway, I told him I wasn't going to stop. And he said, "Well, I just want to let you know." He said, "But one day, I'm going to be general manager of the station that I have complete control over, not just program director. And when I do, I will offer you a job." Well, here comes the ego again. I thought, "Yeah, right, sure." You know, "Sure you are." So, I am at WYCB [WYCB Radio (ph.)], the little station I became general manager of. And I'm on the air, and I'm doing the series called, 'Tell Me What God Has Done for You Today' [ph.], and I was teaching in the Pittsburgh Board of Education [Pittsburgh Public Schools]. I had no credentials, and I was teaching. My class was extremely popular. I would get off at eleven o'clock, and my show started at twelve. And I would get from here--because it was downtown here--I would get from here out to Braddock, Pennsylvania, which was at least maybe an hour and a half. And I'd have to be there at twelve. So, I would tell the late Gloria Briskey [Gloria Briskey Inez], who was a very well known gospel deejay all over America, to put a tape on for me. And I would tape this part that says, "Tell me what God has done for you? We're going to listen to, C.L. Franklin, talk about what God has done for you?" And I would have rehearsed that, and done that before on tape. And they'd play the tape. And then I'd get there right before the tape ran out, with his preaching. And then I was live, and people wouldn't know that I had just ran that. I said--God, help me if there had been an accident or something. So, it went, "Tell me what God has done for you? Hi, this is [HistoryMaker] Bev Smith, tell me what God has done for you?" "Well, God let me get in touch with you." That voice sounds familiar. I said, "Who is this?" He said, "This is Lee Fowler." I said, "Lee, I thought you were in Miami [Florida]." He said, "I am." He said, "Are you tired of cold weather?" It was freezing in Pittsburgh. It was like, it was about six inches of snow on the ground. So, I'm telling you, I'm moving, I am moving trying to get there. And it was about thirteen degrees above zero. And I said, "Yes." Because I lived in the suburbs, I could barely get my garage door open, it was frozen. And he said, "Well, how would like to come to Miami?" Now, this is on the radio. By this time, you have everyone's attention. I said, "Are you serious?" On the radio. And he says, "Yes." I says, "I'm getting ready to play a record, let me put you on hold, and we'll talk." He said, "Can you come to Miami tomorrow?" I said, "As in tomorrow, like, tomorrow, tomorrow?" And he said, "Yes." I said, "No, I can't." He said, "Can you come the next day?" I said, "No, I can't." He said, "Can you come on the weekend?" I said, "Yes, I can. But I have to bring my daughter [Heather Williams], because the weekend is the time I spend with my daughter." He said, "Well, don't bring her this time." He said, "Get a babysitter, and I'll send you the babysitting money." My parents [Isabelle Jones Sloan and John Sloan], I didn't need babysitting money--or her dad [Smith's ex-husband, Ronald Smith]. I said, "Good, Lee," you know, jokingly. And I went to Florida, and he offered me more money than I had ever made in my life. The station was located on Ives Dairy Road, in old North Miami Beach, in a new section that had been carved out. They paid the first, second, and third month rent on a villa in a gated community. I thought I was in heaven. And a week later, my daughter came in. And a week later, I rented a house. And three weeks later, I moved. And that's how I got to Florida.$$Wow, okay.$$Boom, boom, boom.