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Jerry Rushin

Radio station manager Jerry J. Rushin was born on May 21, 1947 in the State of Georgia. When he was a child, his family moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, where he was raised. Rushin’s father was a truck driver; his mother, a part-time housekeeper. Rushin attended Dillard High School and enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduation where he served for three years, including a two-year tour in Vietnam.

Upon returning from Vietnam, Rushin worked in a furniture store and was promoted to manager. He then enrolled in Lindsey Hopkins Technical Educational Center in Miami, Florida and was hired as a part-time board engineer at WEDR-FM while taking a six-month course in radio broadcasting. In 1973, he became a part-time on-air personality and hosted the “Super Jerry J” show on weekends. Rushin was soon promoted as a full-time radio host and later to program director and sales representative for WEDR in 1975. In 1980, he was appointed general manager of the station, becoming the first African American in South Florida to operate a radio station. While general manager, Rushin increased WEDR’s signal from 16,000 watts to 100,000 watts, and, in 1992, the station became the top rated radio station in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area.

In 2000, Cox Media Group purchased WEDR and Rushin was subsequently named vice president and market manager for the corporation’s South Florida radio stations, which included WHQT, WFEZ, WFLC and WEDR. He retired in 2012.

Rushin’s honors include the National Black Programmers Coalition 1995 General Manager of the Year award, the “Living Legend Award” from Black Radio Exclusive, and the Excalibur Award from the Family Christian Association of America. In addition, Rushin served on the board of directors of the Nat Moore Foundation.

Jerry Rushin was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 9, 2014.

Accession Number

A2014.212

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/9/2014

Last Name

Rushin

Maker Category
Middle Name

Joe

Organizations
Schools

Dillard High School

Clarence C. Walker Elementary School

Lincoln Park Elementary School

Lindsey Hopkins Technical College

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jerry

Birth City, State, Country

Eastman

HM ID

RUS10

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

North Florida

Favorite Quote

Just Do It.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

5/21/1947

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Miami

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Pork Chop Sandwich

Short Description

Radio station manager Jerry Rushin (1947 - ) became the general manager WEDR Radio station in Miami, Florida in 1980. He later served as the vice president and market manager for the Cox Media Group’s South Florida radio stations.

Employment

United States Army

WEDR-FM

Cox Media Group

Zeno Mattress MFG. Co. Inc.

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jerry Rushin's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jerry Rushin lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jerry Rushin describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jerry Rushin describes the community of Eastman, Georgia

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jerry Rushin describes his mother's education

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jerry Rushin describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jerry Rushin talks about his family's move to Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jerry Rushin remembers going to work with his father

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jerry Rushin describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jerry Rushin describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jerry Rushin lists his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jerry Rushin describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jerry Rushin describes the sights and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jerry Rushin remembers segregation in Eastman, Georgia

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jerry Rushin describes his elementary school experiences in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jerry Rushin recalls his influential teachers

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jerry Rushin recalls his early love of reading

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Jerry Rushin describes his early aspirations, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Jerry Rushin describes his early aspirations, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jerry Rushin talks about the black radio stations in South Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jerry Rushin remembers Clarence C. Walker Elementary School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jerry Rushin recalls his early exposure to media

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jerry Rushin talks about his experiences at Dillard High School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Jerry Rushin remembers serving in the Vietnam War, pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Jerry Rushin remembers serving in the Vietnam War, pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Jerry Rushin describes his decision to attend the Lindsey Hopkins Technical College in Miami, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Jerry Rushin describes his first position at WEDR Radio in Miami, Florida

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Jerry Rushin talks about WEDR Radio's transition to a black format

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jerry Rushin remembers his show on WEDR Radio in Miami, Florida

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jerry Rushin talks about appealing to his audience on WEDR Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jerry Rushin describes the music on WEDR Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jerry Rushin remembers his celebrity guests on WEDR Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jerry Rushin describes his role as program director on WEDR Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Jerry Rushin talks about the types of radio shows

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Jerry Rushin talks about midday radio shows

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Jerry Rushin remembers his conflict with the management of WEDR Radio

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Jerry Rushin talks about the growth of WEDR Radio during the 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jerry Rushin remembers the changes at WEDR Radio during the 1990s

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jerry Rushin recalls the on air personalities at WEDR Radio

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jerry Rushin recalls the incidents of police brutality that led to the Miami riots of 1980

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jerry Rushin talks about the relations between police and the community in South Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jerry Rushin talks about the acquisition of WEDR Radio by the Cox Media Group

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jerry Rushin reflects upon his career

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Jerry Rushin talks about the murder of Trayvon Martin

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jerry Rushin talks about his retirement

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jerry Rushin describes his organizational involvement

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jerry Rushin reflects upon his life

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jerry Rushin talks about his plans for the future

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jerry Rushin reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jerry Rushin talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Jerry Rushin describes how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

2$3

DATitle
Jerry Rushin talks about appealing to his audience on WEDR Radio
Jerry Rushin recalls the incidents of police brutality that led to the Miami riots of 1980
Transcript
So a, a typical like morning show, would you have a guest, or, or would you--$$Yeah. Back then, you didn't have the complete zoos like you have now. Like if you notice on Tom Joyner ['Tom Joyner Morning Show'], you got J. [J. Anthony Brown], you got Sybil [Sybil Wilkes] and all those people, and, and this Rickey Smiley got ten people in there with him. Back then, it was pretty much just a jock [disc jockey], and I think--but, again, if you can be creative, you can fill that talk void because you're not being scripted, just ten seconds worth of whatever. Or you could have phone calls, or you could have a guest come in. You can have--you know, do interviews. But I, I believe that I could express my opinion at any time because I'm on the air, so I was always concerned about wanting to know and share what listeners thought. I thought people, people like to listen because they either want to disagree with what you say, or they're looking for some kind of confirmation on what they're saying or affirmation of what they're saying. "Oh, he's right. See, that's what I was telling my wife last name. Hear what he just said?" "Oh, he's stupid. What are you talking about?" That's okay. But they listen for those two reasons, so that's why I like to get the, the audience involved, you know. And then sometime if it's not the fire that I wanted, I would say something silly to fire--to put some fire under it, just to, you know--but I would do it myself, you know, so you learn those things and how to do those things, you know, when you're--after a while in the business, you know.$$Well it seems like it would be like a tightrope on some level because you don't want to make yourself unpopular by saying something that's completely wrong, right (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Yeah, yeah.$$So--$$So, so you learn, you learn to--you know, sort of--kind of like Joan Rivers. She picked at herself some, even when she started having the plastic surgery, she could talk about some other starlet and how the star had plastic surgery. So, what's the word, self hybrid--whatever the word be--$$Self effacing (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Yeah.$$Or, or--$$Okay.$$--self deprecating.$$Yeah. So I was very good at that. I would always shoot myself down the hardest, you know, and it kind of took--you know, people say, "Yeah, you right. You sure are." You know, it kind of took the sting out of it, but now when your time come for me to come down on you, well, you know, there ain't much you can say. You know what I'm saying? But, but you learn how to do that. That comes with experience how to--that tight- the tightrope, get that balancing act. You learn how to do that, you know, without, you know. It's what I used to call going to the edge but not over. I would say, let me just take the audience to the edge, and if they decide they want to go over, they can do it by themselves, but I knew where the edge was on every, every subject that came up, and I would go right to the edge. Then I'd put my brakes on. And now if some listeners want to go over the edge--not that something bad gonna happen, but you want your imagination now to, to go wherever, that's fine, but I didn't tell you to go there, you know.$I guess from the eight- probably before from the--I know from the '80s [1980s] through the '90s [1990s], there, there are quite a few urban rebellions and riots in the Miami [Florida] area beginning in the, 19--$$The '80 [1980] riots (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) eighty [1980] with the big one--$$Yeah.$$--the big one was 1980, I guess, but, but there were other riots in Liberty City [Miami, Florida] (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) We had one, 1980 was when Arthur McDuffie--$$Right.$$--my--a friend of mine got beaten to death by the police. Then we had a kid--$$So you, you knew Arthur McDuffie.$$Yeah, yeah. I knew him well. Yeah.$$Okay.$$That was such a crazy thing. Arthur got beat, beaten in December, and they had the trial in May, and they had a change of venue, and, of course, everybody was found innocent, so--$$What happened? Tell, just tell, tell us from what you remember (simultaneous).$$(Simultaneous) Well, Arthur had came to one of my clubs one Saturday night, I think it was, and he was hanging out, but at some point, he got on his motorcycle, and what happened, I guess a cop wanted to stop him for a ticket or speeding. I don't know the details why they were chasing him, but at some point, you know, I think he crashed his motorcycle, and the chase ended right there, or he--and he just--I guess he's excited because of the adrenaline rush from chase--from the chase. And I know that happens when you chasing your kid about, "Don't you run from me, boy." Same thing, you get--so--and they just beat him, and then at some point, he passed away from the blows, you know, and when everybody was let go and the trial over in Tampa [Florida], it was on a Saturday, and I know some people called me up and said--you know, my jock [disc jockey]. Said, "Say J [HistoryMaker Jerry Rushin], we're getting a lot of calls about this trial."$$So, so he was tried in Tampa, which is four--$$Change of venue (simultaneous).$$--(simultaneous) hours away from here, yeah.$$So he said, "Well, you're getting a lot of calls, man." I said, "Well, you know, just, you know, just tell them we'll get, get into Monday." It's Saturday, but, you know, so I tried to like down play it. Then the jock called back, and said, "Man J, I'm telling you, man. The phones are going crazy." I said, "All right." So, whatever, whatever, so. Then he called me back said, "J, people is outside the building, man. They asking for you." I say, "Okay. I'll be right there." So I drive to the, to the station [WEDR Radio, Miami, Florida], man, 'cause we in the, we in the hood now, in the city. We're in the inner city. Sure enough, I couldn't get to the station for these cars. I'm--I know I was outspoken, but, I never thought about that kind of stuff, you know, like the people really gravitated to the stuff I would do, the things I would say, whatever. But I finally got to the little building there, and, and they just wanted to talk, so I stood outside and we talked and we talked, and then I went on the air, and I talked, and put one or two people on the air. Again, again let, let a couple of them vent. You know, they were upset, obviously. So what happened that night, they had what they called a silent protest at the government building [Metro Justice Building; Richard E. Gerstein Justice Building, Miami, Florida], and a couple police cars got turned over, and it was on for the next few days, and I think maybe twenty-two people [sic. eighteen] got killed, and it was--so, you know, and then some people actually said that the--that I started the riots, and at some point you got to realize, this man is dead and finding these people innocent. Nobody is being punish for it. That's what started the riots. And there had been some other incidents. That wasn't the only one. Nathaniel LaFleur, they broke into his house. Police thought that they had the wrong address, cracked his skull. Young kid was relieving himself outside a warehouse building in Hialeah [Florida], you know, they shot him down. A kid named Donald [ph.] was in his car drunk. They said they thought he had a gun. They shot and killed--all this led up to the ones in this riot, so this is a lot of--so that--now, see all these things and nobody should be punished [sic.]. So remember one of the things the police was saying commonly was, "Well, he made a sudden move." So we came up with this thing we called the sudden move syndrome, so I actually had to go in there and go step by step what to do if you're stopped by the police. You know, you put both hands outside the car. You don't reach for your wallet or your license or your insurance. You put both hands outside the car so he can see them. That way he know you don't have a gun or you're not reaching for a gun. I had some other steps in that whole thing, but--'cause it, it got crazy, and all the cop has to do is say, "Well, you know, he made a sudden move, and I thought he had a gun." "Oh, it was his watch flashing. Or I saw the flash. I thought it was a weapon." And if you say that, nothing happens. And it had to stop. You know, again, that same thing from my childhood kick in. Somebody got to stand up to these people. No, you're not going to fight. You know, you can't fight the police or the, or the government, you know, but somebody gotta make the process change. So, hell, it was--I was--just happened to be there. Again, it was like on my watch so to speak, so and that's how, how that whole thing pretty much went down in 1980, the riots of 1980.