Jack L. Cooper
Jack L. Cooper is considered to be the first African-American radio announcer in America. A veteran stage performer and columnist for the Chicago Defender, Cooper began his radio career in the 1920s as a comedian at WCAP/Washington DC and quickly determined that there was a sizable African-American population that was under-represented by this new medium.
In 1929, he returned to WSBC/Chicago and became the host, producer and announcer of The All-Negro Hour, a variety show devoted specifically to black performers that sought to avoid the perpetuation of negative racial stereotypes. Later, the show would incorporate news items for the African-American community. By 1937, Cooper was heard on WSBC five days a week, with a variety of disc jockey programs that played an eclectic blend of black music, ranging from blues to jazz to gospel.
Cooper also utilized radio as a social force on behalf of the community. In 1938, he created Search For Missing Persons, a show designed to reunite listeners and those close to them with whom they had lost contact. In the 1940s, he began Listen Chicago, a program focusing on current events.
Cooper retired from radio in 1959. He died on January 12, 1970.
Jack L. Cooper was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2012.
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