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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.

Bev Johnson

Radio talk show host Beverly Elaine Johnson was born on May 10, 1953 in Memphis, Tennessee to William Van and Julia Danner Johnson. She was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan and attended public schools. Johnson received her B.A. degree in English literature from Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi, and her M.S. degree in educational media technology from Jackson State University. She also graduated from Southwest Tennessee Community College's Substance Abuse Program and The Drug Court Institute, and went on to intern with the Shelby County Drug Court.

Johnson's broadcast career began in Jackson, Mississippi in 1976. In 1983, she was hired at the WDIA radio station in Memphis, Tennessee. She has worked in a number of roles, including as disc jockey to public service director to news/community affairs director, programming assistant, marketing assistant, and talk show host. Johnson was appointed as anchor/talk show host for WDIA, and hosts "The Bev Johnson Show," which first aired in 1987. She is also co-owner of Heart 2 Heart Collaborations Counseling Services, and hosts a cable television show on Comcast Cable titled "Affairs of the Heart." In addition, she teaches at Southwest Tennessee Community College as an instructor of speech and fine arts and language and literature, and has taught radio broadcasting at Rust College for a number of years.

Johnson served on the boards of the Rock N Soul Museum, Memphis-area Planned Parenthood and the National Black Programmers Coalition. She has chaired the Memphis Branch of the NAACP's Radio-thon, and auctioneered for the Coalition of 100 Black Women Memphis Chapter's Annual Eligible Bachelor auction fundraiser, as well as WKNO's Action Auction. She is a charter member of Shelby County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, and was 2nd Vice President for two years. Johnson is also a member of Mt. Pisgah C.M.E. church.

Johnson received the UNCF Outstanding Alumnus Award in 1996. She was named the 1989, 1991, 1992 and 1996 News/Public Affairs Director of the Year by the National Black Programmers Coalition, and was a 1993, 1994 and 1995 nominee for The National Association of Broadcaster's Marconi Award, Personality of the Year. Johnson was also the 1996 Billboard Award Personality of the Year, and was honored by the Tennessee General Assembly's House of Representatives for her tenth and twentieth year hosting "The Bev Johnson Show" talk show. She was named the Memphis Music Commission’s 2013 Emissaries of Memphis Music and received the Jus Blues Foundation 2013 Jack “The Rapper” Gibson Radio Pioneer Award.

Bev Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 25, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.081

Sex

Female

Interview Date

4/25/2014

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Elaine

Schools

Cummings Elementary School

Burns Park Elementary School

Tappan Middle School

Pioneer High School

Rust College

Jackson State University

Southwest Tennessee Community College

National Drug Court Institute

Search Occupation Category
Speakers Bureau

Yes

Speakers Bureau Availability

Afternoons, Evenings, and Weekends

First Name

Beverly

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

JOH48

Speakers Bureau Preferred Audience

No Preference

Speakers Bureau Honorarium

Yes - $500 - $1,000

Favorite Season

Winter

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

As You Treat Yourself, You'll Treat Others.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

5/10/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cornbread, Greens

Short Description

Radio talk show host Bev Johnson (1953 - ) is the longtime talk show host of "The Bev Johnson Show," which airs on Memphis, Tennessee’s WDIA radio station.

Employment

WDIA Radio

WWEE / WLVS Radio

WLOK Radio

WMQM Radio

WKXI Radio

WJMI / WOKJ Radio

Memphis City Schools

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

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

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

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bev Johnson describes her maternal family history, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bev Johnson describes her maternal family history, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bev Johnson talks about her mother, Julia Atlas Danner Johnson

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bev Johnson describes her paternal family history

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bev Johnson talks about her father, William Van Johnson

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bev Johnson describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bev Johnson talks about her younger sister

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bev Johnson describes her earliest childhood memory in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bev Johnson describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bev Johnson talks about her dreams of becoming an actress, her favorite movies, and acting in community musicals

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bev Johnson describes the cultural arts scene in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bev Johnson talks about her favorite grade school teachers and watching Nat King Cole on television

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bev Johnson describes her experience at Ann Arbor Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bev Johnson talks about the impact of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination on black students in her high school

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bev Johnson talks about African Americans on television during the late 1960s

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bev Johnson describes her decision to attend Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bev Johnson talks about the cultural climate of Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi in 1970

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Bev Johnson describes her experiences in theatre and choir as a student at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Bev Johnson talks about family vacations during her childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bev Johnson talks about her activities at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bev Johnson talks about her teachers at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi and her admiration for HistoryMaker Carole Simpson

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bev Johnson talks about performing with Trudy and the Soul Ultimates while a student at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bev Johnson talks about Ida B. Wells and African American Studies at Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bev Johnson talks about her graduate school experience at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bev Johnson remembers her mentors at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bev Johnson describes her start in radio while she was a student at Jackson State University in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bev Johnson describes her transition from disc jockey to news anchor at WJMI-WOKJ

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bev Johnson talks about working as a news director at WKXI in Jackson, Mississippi

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Bev Johnson talks about her work as news anchor for WLOK in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bev Johnson describes targeting majority white audiences at WWEE radio and WLVS

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bev Johnson talks about her return to black radio upon joining WDIA as a news anchor in 1983

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bev Johnson talks about the launch of "The Bev Johnson Show" in 1987

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bev Johnson describes special guests and topics featured on "The Bev Johnson Show"

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bev Johnson describes the day-to-day operations of "The Bev Johnson Show"

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bev Johnson talks about memorable stories featured on "The Bev Johnson Show", pt.1

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bev Johnson talks about memorable stories featured on "The Bev Johnson Show", pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Bev Johnson talks about callers to "The Bev Johnson Show"

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Bev Johnson talks about the coverage of domestic violence on "The Bev Johnson Show"

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Bev Johnson talks about maintaining neutral political commentary on "The Bev Johnson Show"

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bev Johnson describes her work in her community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bev Johnson talks about the history of WDIA

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bev Johnson talks about the decline of disc jockeys and the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Black Journalists Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bev Johnson talks about authors featured on "The Bev Johnson Show"

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bev Johnson talks about her television show, "Affairs of the Heart"

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bev Johnson describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bev Johnson reflects upon her aspirations

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Bev Johnson reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Bev Johnson describes her honors

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - Bev Johnson talks about her family

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - Bev Johnson describes her journalistic philosophy

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - Bev Johnson talks about how she would like to be remembered

DASession

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DATape

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DATitle
Bev Johnson describes her decision to attend Rust College in Holly Springs, Mississippi
Bev Johnson talks about the launch of "The Bev Johnson Show" in 1987
Transcript
So you graduated from high school [Ann Arbor Pioneer High in Michigan] is it seventy--$$Nineteen seventy [1970].$$Seventy, [1970] okay, all right.$$Beginning of the '70's [1970's].$$All right, 1970, and when you were on the verge of graduation, what kind of counseling did you get about college?$$Good counseling because at our high school we had the different kind of curriculums, and I was in the college preparatory. They had university preparatory, college preparatory, they had business, and then they had general. And so I was in the college preparatory, cause I always knew I was going to go to college. So that was counseling, but, but where to go to college. I--taking drama lessons and, and being in the theater thing, I got a scholarship to attend the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City [New York]. And during that time, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts did not have dormitories. So you had to find your own housing. And my dad after he found out he says you think you going to New York City to be living in an apartment wherever you need to live. You better find you a school with dormitory. So that crushed my dreams of, you know, being on Broadway cause I knew I was headed that way. So I had to end up looking for, choosing a, a school with a dormitory.$$Okay, so you couldn't find any housing to, to--now this is a--$$Well you had house--you could find it, but he was not gonna let me go at seventeen years old to New York City. No, I had no relatives, no folks, you were just there. And no telling where you may be living. So that was out.$$Okay, and the school couldn't provide any, any help.$$Yeah, I mean they probably could, but I don't know if we would be living--I would be living in a one room place or what, so you don't know. And then I didn't know the city, so--$$Okay, so--$$So that was out.$$Were you very disappointed about that?$$Oh very, I was, I was devastated. And I was angry with my father for a long time about that.$$Okay, did, did you have recomm--good recommendations and everything from your teachers to go?$$Oh yes, because I got that scholarship, yeah, to go, yeah. The only thing was you just had to find your own housing.$$So now I know you graduated from Rust, but--$$Rust College [Holly Springs, Mississippi].$$Did you go to Rust then?$$Yeah, ended up going to--so end up going to Rust cause throughout--a couple of schools, you know either Fisk [University in Nashville, Tennessee] or I know I didn't want to attend the University of Memphis [Tennessee], which was called Memphis State [University] then. I didn't, I did not want to go to Memphis State. I did not want to go--a counselor for, for the black, black students, they were trying to get us to go to Eastern [Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan]. And we could get full ride to Eastern. I said I'm not going, I don't wanna go, I don't wanna be--I'm leaving, so that was out. So as I said, my mother eventually graduated from Rust College. And so she said well Rust, and I thought now Rust, that's in Mississippi. I had never been to Mississippi in my life. And you know the stories we've, we heard of Mississippi. I could see lynching in Mississippi--no it's not. So finally--anyway went to see the school, saw it and my mother knew people and says we're gonna take care of her, we're gonna take care of her. And fell in love with Rust College, Holly Springs, Mississippi. So that's where I ended up and graduated, yeah.$Okay, all right. So and you launched the Bev Johnson Show, and that was in --$$Nineteen eighty-seven.$$'87 [1987], okay and how did the --$$That was the brain child of, of program director Bobby O'Jay. Oprah Winfrey started her show nationally 1986. And during that time, Oprah was doing all the relationship stuff. So Bobby thought now we need to, you know, do something because during that time you know the FMs were really coming, you know. Even though [W]DIA had been number one for so long, we were -- said we need to do something different. So he -- so I -- and I remember we were going to a radio event and he says I'm thinking about doing a talk show in the mid-day. So we're listening and I think I remember the promotions director being there, Maxine Maclin and he says "Well Bev, you could do a talk show." I'm thinking no, no, no, I'm used to doing a public affairs show, which I was doing, you know, still, a public affairs show. I says "No, every day a talk show?" He says "Yeah, I'm thinking about putting that together and we're going to do that and it's going to be on relationships and all that kind of thing." So finally I guess after he talked with his superior and they said okay we'll do it. He says "Okay we're gonna, we're gonna put you in mid-day, gonna have a talk show, 'The Bev Johnson Show.'" I started a year after Oprah was on and doing the same kind of things Oprah was doing, but I was doing it on radio. Unheard of. Now it was talk shows, remember public affairs and basically they were community issues. But now I'm talking about lifestyles, from divorce to relationships, to all kinds of stuff, all kinds of craziness. In the beginning it was crazy.

Mark Stansbury

Gospel radio show host and academic administrator Markhum “Mark” L. Stansbury, Sr. was born on April 5, 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee to Willie and Eliza Markham Stansbury. He graduated from Booker T. Washington High School, where he was editor of the yearbook. In 1960, at age eighteen, Stansbury was hired as a radio personality and gospel announcer at Memphis, Tennessee’s WDIA-AM, where he has worked for over fifty years. He went on to receive his B.A. degree in history from Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee in 1966.

Upon graduation from Lane College, Stansbury was named the school’s public relations director. He then took a job with Holiday Inns, Inc. in 1969 as a community relations manager, where he worked until 1981. From 1983 to 1987, Stansbury was an insurance agent for Union Central Life Insurance Company and American United Insurance Company, and then served as special assistant to the governor of the State of Tennessee from 1987 until 1989. Stansbury was named assistant to the president of the University of Memphis in 1989, and went on to work for four university presidents. In addition, Stansbury has served as vice president of advancement at LeMoyne-Owen College and interim president of Shelby State Community College (now Southwest Tennessee Community College). He was also a regular photographer for the Memphis World and Tri-State Defender, and briefly worked as a reporter and copy editor for The Commercial Appeal.

Stansbury has been affiliated with or served on the boards of Leadership Memphis, E 9-1-1 Emergency Communications District, St. Andrew AME Church, Memphis Race Relations and Diversity Institute, Shelby Farms, YMCA, Goals of Memphis, and the University of Memphis Foundation. He was appointed to the Shelby County Historical Commission, and served as an advisory board member of South Central Bell. He was a NAACP Freedom Fund Gala Coordinator; past president of the Public Relations Society of America-Memphis Chapter; and served on the Steering Committee for the United Negro College Fund. Stansbury was also a founder of Diversity Memphis, an organization which fights to eliminate bigotry.

He is a member of the United Negro College Fund Hall of Fame, and has received the Award of Merit, the highest award presented to a citizen by the Mayor of Memphis. Stansbury was also named Parent of the Year by the Memphis Rotary Club, and was the first person to receive the University of Memphis’ Campus Unity Award in 1993.

Mark Stansbury was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on April 25, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.037

Sex

Male

Interview Date

4/25/2014

Last Name

Stansbury

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Leon

Schools

Leath Elementary

Booker T. Washington High School

Lane College

First Name

Markhum

Birth City, State, Country

Memphis

HM ID

STA11

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Tennessee

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Orleans and Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Lost Somewhere Between Sunrise And Sunset. Sixty Golden Minutes Each Set With 60 Golden Seconds. No Reward Is Offered For They’re Gone Forever.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Tennessee

Birth Date

4/5/1942

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Memphis

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Hamburger

Short Description

Radio talk show host and academic administrator Mark Stansbury (1942 - ) was a host for over fifty years on WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee, and served as the assistant to four University of Memphis presidents.

Employment

WDIA

WJAK

Lane College

Commercial Appeal

Holiday Inns, Inc

Union Central LIC / American United LIC

State of Tennessee

University of Memphis

Shelby State Community College

LeMoyne-Owen College

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Mark Stansbury's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about his family's emphasis on temperance

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury describes his sister's career

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Mark Stansbury describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Mark Stansbury remembers the influence of Juanita Brewster Crenshaw

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Mark Stansbury remembers being interviewed by Nat D. Williams

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Mark Stansbury describes the Foote Homes community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury describes the Foote Homes housing projects in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury talks about the importance of punctuality, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury talks about the importance of punctuality, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury talks about segregation in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury remembers his involvement with journalism at Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury remembers joining the Teen Town Singers

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury recalls his start at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Mark Stansbury remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury talks about the hosts of WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury talks about the listenership of WDIA Radio

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury remembers his decision to attend college

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury describes his time at Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Missouri

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury recalls the influence of Ernest Withers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury describes how he joined the staff of WJAK Radio in Jackson, Tennessee

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about his Top 40 program on WJAK Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury talks about the music community in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury remembers his influences at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury talks about his experience at Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s activism in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury remembers the shooting of James Meredith

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury remembers joining the staff of the Holiday Inns, Inc.

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury talks about working for the Holiday Inns, Inc.

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury describes how he became the president's assistant at Memphis State University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury remember his presidency of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his time as a university administrator

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury remembers volunteering for W.W. Herenton's mayoral campaign

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury remembers his Arthur S. Holman Lifetime Achievement Award

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury describes his experiences at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about the Memphis State Eight, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury talks about the Memphis State Eight, pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury talks about his civic activities in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his tenure at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon the legacy of WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his career

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Mark Stansbury remembers Ernest Withers

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Mark Stansbury reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Mark Stansbury talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Mark Stansbury describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Mark Stansbury talks about his community organizing efforts

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Mark Stansbury describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Mark Stansbury narrates his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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Mark Stansbury remember his presidency of Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee
Mark Stansbury reflects upon his tenure at WDIA Radio in Memphis, Tennessee
Transcript
But in there, I would have to look at my resume on the dates, you know, years. The commissioner of education--I happened to be on a trip for the City of Memphis [Tennessee]. I was on the 9-1-1 board [Shelby County Emergency Communications District]. I think I may have been chair at the time, and I was out in of all places, Las Vegas [Nevada]. And we were observing at a 911 convention and looking at some things that California was doing.$$9-1-1 in terms of, the terrorist attacks (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Nine eleven [September 11, 2001], the emergency communications, yeah. And this was called the emergency communication, we had 9-1-1 here and the chancellor of the board of regents in Tennessee [Tennessee Board of Regents] called and I was down at a meeting and my wife [Stansbury's ex-wife, Lucy Barber] came down to get me. She said, "I think you need to call. You got a long distance call from Chancellor Smith." I said, "What Chancellor Smith doing calling me?" She said, "I don't know." Say, "He didn't say." So I called him back and he says, "Mark [HistoryMaker Mark Stansbury], this is Charles, Charles Smith [Charles K. Smith]. Say I would-how would you like to be president of Shelby State Community College [Southwest Tennessee Community College, Memphis Tennessee]?" And I laughed. I said, "How would I like to be president of Shelby State?" I said, "I've never thought about it." He said, "Well I want you to think about it." And, and I said, "Well I have to--," I said, "I really have to do some thinking on that one." And then he said, "Well think about it and call me back tomorrow." So before I could call him back, he called me back. And said, "What's your decision?" I said, "Chancellor I just can't give you a decision right now," blah, blah, blah. And he said, "Well--." I said, "Because I haven't talked to my boss." He said, "Well believe me, I have already talked to him because the chancellor--the presidents report to the chancellor anyway. So I want you to talk to him." And then the next thing I know he says, "Well how about coming back to Tennessee?" Because I was out there in Vegas. He said, "How about coming back to Tennessee?" And I said, "Well okay, soon as I can get a flight back." And I finally got back and he made a trip from Nashville [Tennessee]. Came down, took me out to lunch and talked to me and you know to see. And we decided what I could do and if I could do this. I said, "Well how long will it take? I mean how long do you want me to be there?" He say, "For about six months." And so I said, "Well, let me make a few more talks." And so I talked to--the mayor was a good friend of mine and I talked to him and some of my political--$$This is Herenton [W.W. Herenton]?$$Herenton, yeah, a good friend of mine. And they were all very supportive of me. And they said, "You have always worked in the background doing things for others and I think this is probably your time." So long story short, I accepted it and thought I would be there for six months. We had a search for a president, and as I recall there was about--either fifty-six or fifty-eight candidates that were interviewed. And then when it came time, the chancellor made a report that nobody fit the bill or could do it as well as I was doing it, trying to relate to the community and uphold the name of Shelby State. And so they decided they was gonna keep me there longer. And so long story short, I ended up being there two years, supposed to be there six months as president of Shelby State.$$Now did, did you enjoy being the president?$$I enjoyed it, I enjoyed it. And everybody wanted me--the people in the community and at the college wanted me to accept the president, be president. And I said no, I had made that commitment and I was kind the kind of person that if I make a commitment, I'm gonna live to my commitment, regardless. I mean and being president--I don't know if you've been president, but there's a lot of pressure. I mean it might be good. I mean you get dinners to go here and do this and you hobnob with the big fund raisers and the people who give you money. But also there's a lot of pressure on you, you know.$$Now what's the--give us some sense of the demographics of Shelby State and what were some of the issues there when you became president?$$We--the demographics, we had about six thousand students. There was a workforce of about five hundred as I recall. The problems--the president had done--enrolling students--I can't remember exactly. Enrolling students, telling them they could do this and they didn't have to do that. It was just a big controversy and they had to let him go. They had paid their money and they were registering and it was just a whole lot of chaos among the faculty and the students. And I was then able to quell that and get them back--people in a working mode. There was--had lost confidence in the previous president.$So at WDIA [WDIA Radio, Memphis, Tennessee] today your show is still being broadcast. You, do you having any thoughts of retiring from the show or you gone do it as long as you can?$$No, I'm gonna do it as long as I can. In fact my wife [Imogene Sayles Stansbury] tells everybody they'll take me out feet first. But I'm working for a good guy, Bobby O'Jay and gives me an opportunity to do the things that I want to do and to help keep the community informed and I just do things just within you know, the FCC [Federal Communications Commission], Federal Communication guidelines. I enjoy it and enjoy making people happy each Sunday.$$Okay. Clear Channel [Clear Channel Communications, Inc.] came in and cut a lot of jobs at WDIA.$$Right, and in fact my job wasn't cut but my hours were cut. I'm down to four hours now on Sundays from four o'clock until eight o'clock. I'm really on the air from four until seven and then from seven until eight I'm there because we have a church called Mount Vernon Baptist Church Westwood [Memphis, Tennessee], which is pastured by the Reverend James L. Netters who has been documented as the longest serving pastor of any church in Memphis, Tennessee. He's been the pastor for fifty-eight years. And so I'm on the board when his church is on and when his church goes off the air, then supposedly I go home. I don't go home, but I'm off the air. But I do some production work afterwards.$$Okay so do you stay around until eleven?$$No, no. But you know they say out of everything bad comes some good. The bad thing is that my hours were cut. But the good part was that it gives me an opportunity to go home and spend some time with my wife because for almost thirty years I was never at home on Sunday evening. Have to go to church, I would rush home, change clothes and to the radio station because I was there at two. So out of everything bad comes some good.$$Yes sir, okay. Well some of your--the personalities on WDIA now include Stan Bell, Bobby O'Jay, Stormy, Nelson [Ford Nelson].$$Bev Johnson and Janis Fullilove.$$Okay, now she was a city councilman?$$She is city councilwoman now, she is now. And in fact city council [Memphis City Council] meets on Tuesday and she's off on Tuesdays. They usually bring in a substitute for her so she can do that.$$Okay, okay. So WDIA continues on. I mean you--has it--I've looked around on the walls and there've been plenty of--I think the papers covered the history of WDIA over and over again. Have there been books written about WDIA?$$To my knowledge there's only been one book ['Wheelin' on Beale: How WDAI-Memphis Became the Nation's First All-Black Radio Station and Created the Sound That Changed America,' Louis Cantor] and it's--I was trying to think of it--there's been one book. Only one book has been written about and I just can't think of the name of it right now.