Making Waves: Louisiana's Radio Story

Desegration & The Civil Rights Movement

(LPB Reenactment)

Vernon Winslow

New Orleans' First Black DJ: Dr. Daddy O (Courtesy of Randy Lauman/Rick Coleman)
In 1947, an art professor from Chicago named Vernon Winslow, started a show highlighting black music in New Orleans on WJMR — a white-owned radio station. Unknown to most listeners, Winslow wrote the scripts, selected the music, and taught the white DJ, "Poppa Stoppa" how to sound black.

"Doctor Daddy-O"

After being fired for taking to the microphone when the white DJ was a no-show, Winslow went on to WWEZ and become New Orleans' first black DJ — "Doctor Daddy-O." Forced to ride up the freight elevator to the station because of his race, Winslow was later convinced by white record producer Cosimo Matassa to broadcast from his studio. Within one year, The "Doctor Daddy O" show was the top rated radio program in New Orleans and Winslow was one of the top ten DJs in the country.

Tex Stephens

Winslow was joined by other black DJs in New Orleans, including WWII veteran Tex Stephens — one of the most popular jazz DJs in the city.

Civil Rights Reporter Larry McKinley (Courtesy of Larry McKinley)Larry McKinley

Young New Orleans DJ Larry McKinley gave further voice to the emerging civil rights movement over radio station WMRY. During the sixties McKinley covered freedom marches, the integration of New Orleans schools and Dr. Martin Luther King. McKinley also created the characters "Frank" and "Larry" for his show, improvising comedy routines over the air. Other New Orleans radio personalities at the time included "Ernie the Whip" at WMRY and "Okey Dokey," Johnny "Honeyboy" Hardy and "Momma" Lou at WBOK.