Tonight at 8 p.m., WXPN will debut, Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio, a two-hour documentary chronicling the legacy of black radio with a focus on the legendary WDAS in Philadelphia. The documentary was made possible in part with support from the Knight Foundation’s Knight Arts Challenge and production support from WXPN.
Going Black showcases how vibrant radio was and continues to be, the electrifying soulful musical sounds of a culture, and the legendary pioneering DJs who held listeners’ imaginations captive. Equally important as the music, the documentary tells the story of how, starting in the 1950s, black radio stations became the pulse of African-American communities and a megaphone for people of color during the civil rights and Black Power movements. As local radio stations were pipelines into the black community, the place to get news that the mainstream media either ignored or refused to cover, WDAS served as an outlet for that history in the making.
Narrated by legendary producer Kenny Gamble, it features interviews with many of the DJ’s from WDAS and the Philly area including “Jocko” Henderson, Georgie Woods, Louise Williams, Jimmy Bishop, Jerry Blavat, Harvey Holiday, Sonny Hopson, and Butterball, rare archival air checks from the 60s and 70s, and a soundtrack that includes classic Philly R&B soul, and jazz. The show was produced under the auspices of Mighty Writers, the Philadelphia nonprofit that teaches writing to city kids.
Below, sample some excerpts from tonight’s show.