The Nation’s Largest African American Video Oral History Collection Mobile search icon Mobile close search icon
Advanced Biography Search
Mobile navigation icon Close mobile navigation icon

Paul Berry

Broadcast journalist Paul Berry was born on February 15, 1944 in Detroit, Michigan, and was raised by his grandmother Annie M. Talley. Berry joined the U.S. Air Force in 1961 and graduated from the Department of Defense Information School. He went on to serve with the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) assigned to the Tuy Hoa Air Force Base in Vietnam, where he worked as program director and sportscaster. While on assignment, Berry established the first independent FM radio station in South Vietnam.

In 1969, Berry was hired as an anchor and reporter at the ABC-owned outlet WXYZ-TV in Detroit, Michigan. In 1972, he joined ABC-7 (WJLA-TV) in Washington, D.C., where he served as senior news anchor. Berry went on to establish two of WJLA’s community service programs, "Crimesolvers" and "Seven on Your Side."

In 1999, Berry left the news desk and hosted Washington, D.C.'s “The Paul Berry Show” for a number of years. He has also produced and hosted his own nationally syndicated weekly radio talk show, “Home & Family Finances,” which is now entitled “Family Financials with Paul Berry.” The show is owned by Berry, sponsored by the Credit Union National Association (CUNA), and airs on Radio America Network. In addition, Berry established and heads the media consulting business Paul L. Berry & Associates, LLC. He is also a licensed realtor and founder of R & B Travel Agency.

Berry has been a member of several civic, charitable and professional organizations. He served on the boards of Ford's Theatre, The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, The Neediest Kids, Inc., The Washington Jesuit Academy, and the Paul Berry Academic Scholarship Foundation. He was a member of the Talbot County Tax Assessment Board; named president of the Chesapeake Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; and serves as commissioner for Maryland Public Television.

In 1982, Berry was the winner of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Ted Yates Award. Also, in 1982, Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry honored Berry by declaring November 12, "Paul Berry Day in the District." He received the 1986 Humanitarian Award of the National Martin Luther King, Jr., Student Leadership Conference; the 1989 Mid-Atlantic Professional Golfers' Association -Citizens Award; and the 1989 Olender Foundation’s Generous Heart Award. Washingtonian Magazine named Berry "Washingtonian of the Year" in 1991. He also won the 1993 Capital Region Emmy Award for Outstanding News Anchor, and in 1994, he was voted into the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences "Silver Circle." In addition, Berry has received community service awards from the National Capital Optimist Club and the Associated Press.

Berry is married to Amy Berry; they live in Easton, Maryland and have three children: Talley, Hudson and Paul.

Paul Berry was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on January 28, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.034

Sex

Male

Interview Date

1/29/2014

Last Name

Berry

Maker Category
Middle Name

Lawrence

Schools

Cass Technical High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Paul

Birth City, State, Country

Detroit

HM ID

BER04

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Nassau, Bahamas

Favorite Quote

Education Is The Only Solution.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

2/15/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pig Feet

Short Description

Broadcast journalist Paul Berry (1944 - ) , founder of Paul L. Berry & Associates, LLC and the R & B Travel Agency, worked as an anchor for ABC-7 in Washington, D.C. for over twenty-five years. He also established the first independent FM radio station in South Vietnam, and is the host of Radio America Network’s “Home & Family Finances."

Employment

United States Air Force

Armed Forces Radio and Television Service

WXYZ-TV

WJLA TV

The Paul Berry Show

Family Financials with Paul Berry

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
0,0:2160,110:11120,268:21561,391:21927,398:35225,608:39020,780:57680,991:62770,1081:95980,1553:96260,1558:107602,1760:112168,1831:113528,1866:114684,1891:117713,1915:130700,2186:132140,2212:132940,2224:133420,2231:140036,2287:144392,2341:145040,2353:145544,2362:156584,2594:157620,2615:159248,2657:160210,2678:162652,2716:193182,3097:194040,3113:194568,3122:195492,3146:200150,3212:201130,3302:208340,3471:216862,3593:217474,3604:222767,3723:228850,3834:240140,3935:248870,4041:249182,4046:254798,4186:264014,4362:277238,4560:284606,4686:285050,4693:300721,4970:306771,5143:328500,5522$0,0:4988,145:25708,412:26036,417:30464,498:31858,526:45126,701:47633,719:49337,770:49692,776:80595,1222:94758,1386:99078,1490:100446,1533:101886,1575:102174,1580:117700,1728:127050,1816:132358,1865:134726,1955:135096,1961:154710,2259:163484,2458:166717,2538:167022,2544:174682,2681:176586,2724:194963,2889:202320,3022
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Paul Berry's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Paul Berry lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Paul Berry talks about his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Paul Berry talks about his maternal great-grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Paul Berry talks about his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Paul Berry talks about growing up in Swanton, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Paul Berry talks about growing up in Swanton, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Paul Berry talks about his current home in the Eastern Shore of Maryland

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Paul Berry talks about his mother's childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Paul Berry talks about his mother

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Paul Berry talks about his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Paul Berry describes his father, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Paul Berry describes his father, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Paul Berry describes his parents' marriage

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Paul Berry talks about how his grandmother influenced him

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Paul Berry talks about being taught to cook by his grandmother

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Paul Berry talks about his sister

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Paul Berry describes his earliest childhood memory, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Paul Berry describes his earliest childhood memory, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Paul Berry describes his memories of Highland Park, Michigan

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Paul Berry talks about Joe Louis Barrow

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Paul Berry describes living in Swanton, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Paul Berry describes living in Swanton, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Paul Berry describes the Church of God church near Swanton, Ohio

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Paul Berry describes listening to the radio with his grandfather

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Paul Berry talks about the role of radio and television in his childhood

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Paul Berry talks about being on television for the first time as a child

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Paul Berry describes the issues with school integration in Swanton, Ohio, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Paul Berry describes the issues with school integration in Swanton, Ohio, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Paul Berry talks about moving back to Detroit, Michigan, pt. 1

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Paul Berry talks about moving back to Detroit, Michigan, pt. 2

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Paul Berry talks about joining the U.S. Air Force

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Paul Berry describes experiencing racism at Gunther Air Force in Montgomery, Alabama, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Paul Berry describes experiencing racism at Gunther Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Paul Berry describes his time in the Air Force, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Paul Berry describes his time in the Air Force, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Paul Berry talks about arriving in Vietnam in 1968 after the Tet Offensive

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Paul Berry describes beginning the first FM radio station during the Vietnam War

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Paul Berry describes announcing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination to the troops

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Paul Berry remembers his time at the radio station in Vietnam

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Paul Berry talks about his first foray into civilian broadcasting, pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Paul Berry talks about his first foray into civilian broadcasting, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Paul Berry reflects on being a good journalist and his role at WXYZ

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Paul Berry talks about his role at WXYZ

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Paul Berry talks about broadcasting in Detroit, Michigan and being hired in Washington, D.C.

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Paul Berry talks about news anchor Max Robinson

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Paul Berry recalls leaving Detroit, Michigan for Washington, D.C.

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Paul Berry recalls backlash to his report on Howard University, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Paul Berry recalls backlash to his report on Howard University, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Paul Berry talks about Max Robinson

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Paul Berry talks about working for BET

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Paul Berry talks about HistoryMaker Marion Barry, pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Paul Berry talks about HistoryMaker Marion Barry, pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Paul Berry remembers Petey Greene

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Paul Berry talks about a conflict with another journalist

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Paul Berry talks about the Watergate scandal

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Paul Berry talks about his show "7 On Your Side," pt. 1

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Paul Berry talks about his show "7 On Your Side," pt. 2

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Paul Berry talks about his show "Crime Solvers"

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Paul Berry recalls his various achievements

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Paul Berry talks about Washington D.C. public schools

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Paul Berry narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$5

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Paul Berry talks about being taught to cook by his grandmother
Paul Berry describes announcing Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination to the troops
Transcript
She [grandmother Annie Talley] had me--I would go to church on--we'd go to church, I'd go to church, a little church in (laughter), on Irwin Road and Old State Line Road, a little Church of God with Reverend and Sister Jackson. He was a minister. And we would go to church Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, whether we wanted to or not. I remember at eight years, I was teaching Sunday school. I could read from the age of, I think mom says three and a half or four years old. I was reading, reading the Bible, you know. And so my grandmother would have us--and at that time, Debbie was still with, was still--we'd go to church and we'd be sitting there. And in the church would be Reverend Jackson, his wife, my grandmother and Debbie and me. That was it in the church at that--and there's, you know, they're singing and we're singing. Debbie and I look at each other and then Reverend Jackson would get up, and he would preach. And he'd do the service, and Debbie and I would look at each other because we knew that my grandmother knew more Bible than he knew because (laughter) she had studied the Bible. So we knew. So who was he preaching to? Debbie and I didn't care (laughter). We didn't wanna hear it. And he would, and then he would say this--and this, and (unclear) (laughter), "Now, pardon my digression." And we, oh, God, that meant, here's a ten minute loop about--oh my God. And my grandmother would look over at us and throw her finger at, which meant, you didn't misbehave. Or she would, if you did, she would walk over with her hand held high, coming across to where we were sitting, and reach over and grab you on the arm, right here and turn it and dare you, dare you to say a word. You'd better not yell. She'd just turn it, pinch you. And she'd turn you loose and walk back. And that, now, she was known for it so much so that her younger sister, Carrie Presley, that was her nickname. She used to call her "Pinch," (laughter) because she used to pinch. You didn't wanna get pinched by our grandmother, but she would come over and she would, she'd wrap you up, boy. And we'd sit there, and, you know--and it was good. I mean I, I learned the things, and I would teach Sunday school. Then I traveled with the Reverend Jackson. We went to different--she felt comfortable that he was a good man, a good and decent man. And what I learned later was what she meant by that, she wasn't worried of turning me loose with this guy. She thought he was--and he was. He, there was never, ever any, a hint of anything at all. And I would travel with him, and it was great. And then, you know, he'd take his eight, nine-year old parishioner with him to, to what they used to have those conventions, church conventions here and there. It was great. I got a chance to travel. Then when I got back to--I was home at, I think about the age of eight or nine, my grandmother called me in one day. And she said, "Paul, I want you to learn to cook." She says, "You gotta take care of yourself." She said, "So from now on, once a month, I want you to plan a meal, go shopping with me to get it, come back and fix it, cook it, clean up." She said, "I want you to do that once a month. Would you do it?" I said, "Of course." When you're eight years old, that sounded like a huge assignment and wonderful. So we used to go into the A and P, when we--when I went with her or Kroger's at the time. I think it was an A and P Store. And we'd buy, she said, "What do you want?" And I'd tell her what I was gonna cook. And I would come back and I would cook that meal. And it was a wonderful learning experience. But I grew right--and I did it every year, eight, nine, ten. When I came back from--at eleven, twelve, and then probably at my twelfth or thirteenth year, and I don't know which one, I was outside playing. And I had boasted about the fact that I cooked, and I knew how to cook. And my friends, Tommy Sorminsky [ph.] and Mike Soransky [ph.] who lived across the street from us, they laughed at me. "Why are you laughing?" "You, girl--boys don't cook. Girls cook." That's what they said. And I remembered that. So she called me in one day. She said, (laughter) "Paul, come (unclear), it's time." And I was upset because we were playing out in the field or whatever we're doing and I gotta go shop and all that. And I said it to her. I said, "Mom, I'm a boy. I'm not a girl. I'm a boy. Why do I have to--girls cook." "Oh, Paul," she said, "really?" She said, "Now, where did you hear that?" I told her. She says, "Well, let me tell you something." She says, "I raised nine of my children," and she says, "I raised them so dumb in the kitchen that they didn't know how to boil water. I did it all." She says, "But with you I got a second chance, Paul. And I'm making full use of that." She says, "Now, you're gonna cook." And she says, "I'll tell you why." She said, "At one day in the future, you're going to grow up," she says. "And you're going to want to get married." She says, "But one of the reasons you'll get married is not because you're hungry. You'll know how to cook." And that was, and I looked at her. She said, "So go out. I'll do it," she says, "but you're gonna cook." She says, "You'll get married for all the right reasons, but you'll know how to take care of yourself." And I remember that to this day. "You know, you'll get married for a lot of silly reasons, but one of 'em won't be because you're hungry."$And so when King [Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.]--I don't know whether it was King or Kennedy [Robert Kennedy]. Who got--King got killed first.$$First, right.$$When King was killed, it was censored out of Saigon, censored. I mean until they figured out how to broadcast. But you know where it wasn't censored on FM Tuy Hoa. And we broadcast--now, again, we weren't doing it as anti anything. We were just saying that the troops, here was the news. We picked up the signal. We got the reports, and we played that report right on--"[Reverend Dr.] Martin Luther King, Jr. killed, assassinated, or whatever they called it, and we broadcast that thing. Now, to understand the structure, the radio station was controlled AFVN [Air Forces Vietnam Network]. Our radio station, our little FM Tuy Hoa was controlled by the base commander, okay. So if I reported to anyone, I reported to him. He was the commander of Tuy Hoa, okay. And this was a installation that was sitting on his facility. So he was commander of it. But we weren't thinking about that. We, that was just a structure that we had to have in place because we were on the base. And sure enough, we broadcast the assassination of Martin Luther King. All hell broke loose because somebody heard our broadcast and the censors in Saigon went absolutely ape, and upset, and boy, we got, you know--you will not, you'll cease and desist, and you'll so and so, and that is, you know, it's unauthorized. And you don't have, and I mean, and we were like, "Well, Jesus, what is this? You know, I mean we were just giving out the news." Our theory was Americans fighting had to know what was going on at home. So we--and it's a good thing it happened then because I then had to explain. The, the--we stopped with the broadcast because we were told to stop. And at this point, we didn't know what to do. The commander of the air base at Tuy-Hoa listened to FM Tuy Hoa. It was his radio station, so he called me down to his office. "Lieutenant, what the heck's going on?" Why, you know, I told him what happened. And he says, "What?" I said, "Yeah, apparently--well, not apparently, sir, the, you know, the Air Force wants to, wants it censored information." I says not Air Force because AFRTS [American Forces Radio and Television Service] was a combination of all services, Armed Forces Radio Television Service. He says, "Well, how does that apply here?" I said, "Well, the commander-" He said, "The commander is not in charge of my facility. That's my radio station." And he says, "And you are now ordered to put--you go on the air with whatever you choose." He says, "As long as it's in good taste, the American soldier has a right to know. Thank you, sir." So, it got quiet. We went back on doing our broadcast, doing our written newscast. And then up comes the death of Robert Kennedy. And we were first--Reuters is the other news services that I was talking about, okay.$$Right, out of Britain.$$Reuters was the news service.