JESSE B. BLAYTON, SR.
Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. made radio history when he became the first
African-American to own and operate a radio station in America.
Blayton was born December 6, 1897 in Fallis, Oklahoma and studied
at the Walton School of Chicago and the University of Chicago. He
moved to Atlanta in 1922 and became Georgias first African-American
Certified Public Accountant six years later.
By the 1940s, Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. had become a bank president
and a professor at Atlanta University. In 1949, he purchased 1,000-watt
station WERD/Atlanta and hired his son Jesse Blayton Jr. as station
The younger Blayton hired radio veteran Jack Gibson to be an announcer and Ken Knight to be program director. WERDs black appeal format became an
instant success with African-American listeners. By 1951, Gibsonusing
the on-air name Jockey Jackwas Atlantas
most popular disc jockey. During the 1960s, the station shared building
space with the Southern Christian Leadership Council and provided
a platform for civil rights activists to make their voices heard.
Blayton sold WERD in 1968 and remained active in community affairs
until his death.
Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. died on September 7, 1977.
Jesse B. Blayton, Sr. was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in
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