WDAS Timeline


1923
  • WDAS originally owned by retailers Dannenbaum & Steppacher.
    Thus the call letters "W-D-A-S."

    1950

  • WDAS-AM purchased by Max Leon from William Goldman (a theater chain owner.)

    1951

  • Bob Klein, Max Leon's son-in-law, promoted to General Manager after a stint in the station's sales department.
  • Randy Dixon, the first African-American announcer hired at WDAS on July 25th, host of "Ebony Hall Of Fame."

    1953

  • "Jocko" Henderson hired at WDAS-AM in Philadelphia on October 5th.
  • Georgie Woods hired as an air personality at WHAT-AM after a brief stint at WWRL-AM in New York.

    1954

  • WDAS initiates first listener survey commissioned by Bob Klein to compare with the established rating services.

    1955

  • WDAS airs first discussion among community leaders for a movement to integrate "whites-only" Girard College (a Philadelphia prep school.)

    1956

  • Georgie Woods joins Randy Dixon and "Jocko" Henderson at WDAS-AM.

    1957

  • Bob Klein dispatches WDAS newsman Art Peters to Little Rock AR to cover the unrest in the city prompted by the desegregation of Little Rock High School.
  • Georgie Woods breaks Sam Cooke's first single, "You Send Me."

    1958

  • Louise Williams sells the idea of doing 15-minute big band radio program to a local furniture store in Philadelphia.
    The proprietors bought the idea and agreed to sponsoring "Swing With The Big Bands," hosted by Louise, who became known as "the youngest voice on radio."
    The show ran on WHAT-AM.
    After a 26-week run, WHAT hired Louise to do gospel music on Sundays.
    She accepted the position with the intentions of using the opportunity as an avenue to get to WDAS-AM.
    Ms. Williams experienced tremendous ratings success that did not go unnoticed.

    1959

  • WDAS-FM is born after FCC approves license.
    The future radio legend commences in August.

    1960

  • Louise Williams hired by Bob Klein to come to WDAS-AM to do gospel.
  • WDAS Charities established to address the needs of the community.
  • WDAS Charities initiates "WDAS Freedom Shows," both Rock n' Roll and gospel concerts, that raise money to benefit those in need in the Philadelphia community.
  • "The Listening Post" talk show debuts on WDAS-AM in June.
  • Joe Rainey, Jim Klash and Bob Klein begin WDAS process and tradition of endorsing and aiding African-American political candidates.
  • John "Lord Fauntieroy" Bandy appointed Assistant General Manager at WDAS, one of the first African-Americans to hold that position in radio nationwide.
  • WDAS commissions further market research and listenership study with E. John Bucci, President Kennedy's chief statistician.
  • WDAS initiates one of the first voter registration drives.
  • WDAS credited with increasing African-American voter registration by mayor of Philadelphia.
  • WDAS pioneers another black talk radio milestone, hiring Chet Carmichael as station education director and host of "Teen Talk."

    1961

  • WDAS begins fueling buses for "Freedom Riders" integrating Southern lunch counters.

    1962

  • Georgie Woods breaks the Beatles', "Please, Please Me," originally on the African-American owned, Chicago-based Vee-Jay Records label.
  • WDAS begins its habit of winning awards for journalism by receiving the Valley Forge Freedom Foundation's Washington Medal, thanks to the tenacity of Jim Klash, WDAS' editorial director.

    1963

  • August 28th, a cadre of WDAS staffers join in the "March On Washington," originally called "A March For Jobs And Freedom."
    The site is where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered the "I Have A Dream" speech.
  • Jimmy Bishop begins his impressive on-air career at WDAS.

    1964

  • Dr. Martin Luther King visits WDAS and speaks at Zion Baptist Church in Philadelphia, following a hige parade down Broad Street.
  • Soul crooner, Sam Cooke, headlines "WDAS Freedom Show" at the Convention Center in May.
  • Malcolm X is interviewed "live" on WDAS by Joe Rainey, host of "The Listening Post."
    Police sharpshooters were positioned atop WDAS' studios for the duration of Malcolm's visit, because "word" was out that there would be an assassination attempt on Malcolm's life at WDAS.
    This was Malcolm's last visit to Philadelphia.

    1965

  • Jimmy Bishop becomes Program Director of WDAS, the station's first African-American top programming executive.

    1966

  • WDAS news, under the leadership of Jim Klash and Joe Rainey, continues to pile up Freedom Foundation's awards, Associated Press awards and human relations commendations.
  • WDAS station owner Max Leon stages very early radiothon on FM dial raising money for aid after the great flood in Florence, Italy.
    He is knighted by the Italian government for his efforts.

    1967

  • WDAS personality Louise Williams introduces Aretha Franklin to Jerry Wexler of Atlantic Records... and the rest is music history.

    1968

  • April 4th, Dr. Martin Luther King assassinated in Memphis TN.
    WDAS suspends regular programming of R&B music and played only "wall-to-wall" gospel music (from Louise Williams' library at the station.)
    WDAS constantly reminded the city of Dr. King's philosophy of non-violence and aired his speeches.
    Many people feel that WDAS was directly responsible for preventing rioting in the streets of Philadelphia.
  • The campaign waged by Cecil Moore, Georgie Woods and WDAS News against Girard College's "white only" policy is victorious, when US Supreme Court orders that black students be allowed to attend the school.

    1969

  • Community Associates of Strawberry Mansion and the House Of Umoja founder Falaka Fatah team up to address the gang problem in the African-American communities of Philadelphia.
    WDAS joins the campaign.
    WDAS' Georgie Woods encourages people to do the right thing and turn in their guns, which a great number of people did.
  • WDAS sponsors numerous community meetings and spearheads special reporting efforts to quell the black-on-black violence.
  • WDAS wins the highly coveted Armstrong Award for Excellence in News Programming.

    1971

  • "Butterball" is captivated by Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On" album, even though many programmers and Motown's Berry Gordy are not.
    "Butterball" keeps playing the record anyway.
    The rest is history.

    1972

  • WDAS' Bob Klein files a class action suit against the Arbitron rating service on behalf of all black radio stations and proves that black radio listenership was undercounted.
    Arbitron settles after four days of testimony and amends its methologies and policies.
  • WDAS begins receiving awards for its "Help A Junkie Bust A Pusher" campaign.

    1975

  • WDAS creates multi-award winning "Job Hunt," an on-air employment bureau administered by the WDAS news department, which secured thousands of jobs for WDAS listeners in three states.

    1978

  • WDAS news spearheads campaign to defeat Mayor Frank Rizzo's attempt to change city charter that would allow him to run an unprecedented third term.
    WDAS' effort capped years of the station's fighting Rizzo's police brutality, intimidation tactics, institutionalized racism and socio-political narrow-mindedness.
  • WDAS holds the first "Unity Day" in West Philadelphia.

    1979

  • Georgie Woods and Bob Klein organize their last charity gala to benefit Coretta Scott-King's "Martin Luther King Center For Social Change."
  • In November, WDAS sold to African-American owned Unity Broadcasting.

    1980's

  • WDAS' decades-long campaign for black political empowerment contributes to the victories of four "historical firsts."
    Robert N.C. Nix Jr. becomes the first black chief justice of PA, the first black state supreme court chief justice in the history of the US.
    W. Wilson Goode becomes the first black mayor of Philadelphia.
    Dr. Constance Clayton becomes the first black school superintendent of Philadelphia.
    Willie Williams becomes the first black police commissioner in the history of the city.

    1990's

  • "WDAS Unity Day" becomes "Unity Week" with enormous support from the educational, entertainment, athletic and corporate communities, joined by the hundreds of thousands of people who turn out every year for the celebration.

    1994

  • WDAS is sold to Beasley Broadcasting.

    1995

  • WDAS moves to a new building in Bala Cynwyd.

    1997

  • Evergreen Media buys WDAS in May.
    In August, Evergreen evolves into Chancellor Media.

    1999

  • Chancellor Media becomes AMFM Inc.

    2000

  • August, Clear Channel Communications acquires AMFM and WDAS along with several of the top urban radio stations in the United States.
  • WDAS' parent company, Clear Channel, creates two scholarship funds with the Philadelphia Futures honoring Louise Williams and Joe "Butter" Tamburro.

    (courtesy of the WDAS-FM website and the Urban Network Magazine)

    Back to Philly AM History | Back to Philly FM History

    Copyright ©