The radio industry wouldn’t be what it is today without Black women. From Mary Dudley, the first Black woman disk jockey in the 40’s, all the way up to Wendy Williams, who became a talk radio icon. These industry vets ushered in a new sound on the radio. Now, The Library of Congress is working with an organization to cement the work that Black women have done in the industry.
Preserving Black Radio Voices
The organization, Black Women in Radio, has partnered with The Radio Preservation Society. The two have announced the Black Women in Radio Historic Collection and Oral History Project. BWIR founder, Felisha Love, curated the collection which focuses on a group of women called the “Inaugural 30.” These women are all radio professionals who showcase the strides made in the industry. Some names in the group include Cathy Hughes, founder and chairwoman of Radio One Inc., personality Lady Edie Bee, host and professor Pat Prescott and host Carla Ferrell.
The collection was announced during the Radio Preservation Task Force Conference, held at the Library of Congress. The Library of Congress will permanently archive the careers of these women, with over 150 hours of audio. The group of women also got a chance to meet with some influential figures. President Biden’s Press Secretary, Karine Jean Pierre, who is also a Black woman, met with the group.
“Finally, women’s voices in radio are validated, and revered as a valuable addition to American history,” Love wrote in her curator’s note about the new initiative.
The Library of Congress has also made other strides in preserving Black voices. In April, Queen Latifah made history with the LOC’s National Recording Registry. She became the first female rapper inducted in the registry. The LOC also inducted Mariah Carey in 2023.