WKMS Offers Black History Month Specials On Fridays

Feb 7, 2017

Legenday Philadelphia disc jockey Georgie Woods
Credit Temple Urban Archives

WKMS celebrates Black History Month with special programming in February. 

We’ll hear about the intersection of poverty and education through the story of a fourth grade classroom in one of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods; visit a community in Ohio where racial lines have been blurred to the point of invisibility; learn about the origins of Philly Soul Radio and hear some of the most iconic songs of the civil rights movement as selected by the rock critics at Sound Opinions. 

A schedule and detailed descriptions of the upcoming programs is below.

Friday, February 10 at Noon

The View From Room 205

The View from Room 205 is a one-hour documentary that takes an unflinching look at the intersection of poverty and education in this country. It tells the story of a fourth grade classroom at William Penn Elementary, a public school in one of the nation’s poorest neighborhoods, North Lawndale on Chicago’s West Side. The documentary weaves together human stories in the school, from the children to their teacher to the principal, and pulls back to explain the big picture. It looks at poverty’s hold on school achievement and explores the unintended consequences of a core belief driving school reform today – that poverty is no excuse for low achievement.

Peabody Award-winning reporter Linda Lutton of WBEZ Chicago spent months reporting from Penn and the neighborhood around the school. Her work tackles fundamental questions about how we educate poor children, and whether schools can actually overcome poverty. It documents—often painfully—how we struggle and fail to lift poverty’s burdens off children. It is an hour that is personal, up-close, story-driven, and of far-reaching national importance.

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Friday, February 17 at Noon

State of the Re:Union
Pike County, Ohio: As Black as We Wish to Be

Host: Al Letson
Producer: Lu Olkowski

In this episode Al Letson and guest producer Lu Olkowski visit a tiny town in the Appalachian foothills of Ohio where, for a century, residents have shared the common bond of identifying as African-American despite the fact that they look white. Racial lines have been blurred to invisibility, and people inside the same family can vehemently disagree about whether they are black or white. It can be tense and confusing. As a result, everyone’s choosing: Am I black? Am I mixed race? Or, am I white? Adding to the confusion, there’s a movement afoot to recognize their Native-American heritage.

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Friday, February 24 at 11a.m.

Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio

"Going Black: The Legacy of Philly Soul Radio " examines the legacy of Black radio, with a special focus on the legendary WDAS in Philadelphia. The story of Black radio in Philadelphia is actually the story of a music that would have gone undiscovered, of Civil Rights and progress in the African-American community, and of how the radio medium has changed in the last century. The documentary special is hosted by legendary Sound of Philadelphia (TSOP) music producer and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Kenny Gamble . For more about the program, visit our website: www.mightyradio.org . 

Today, a lot of people don't know what the term "Black radio" means. But starting in the 1950s, Black radio stations around the country became the pulse of African-American communities, and served as their megaphone during the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. Stations like WDAS in Philly, WDIA in Memphis, WWRL and WBLS in NYC, WHUR and WOL in DC, WERD in Atlanta, WVON in Chicago, WLAC in Nashville, WMRY in New Orleans and KWBR in San Francisco featured radio personalities with styles all their own who played records you'd never get to hear on mainstream radio. Beyond being hip radio stations, these were pipelines into the Black community where you'd get the latest news on current events and the Civil Rights Movement — at a time when the mainstream media wasn't covering these stories from a Black perspective.

The documentary features conversations with well-known disc jockeys, radio professionals, record company executives, musicians, journalists and scholars. Listeners will hear first-person accounts of Civil Rights events and rare archival audio of Black radio air checks from the 60s and 70s, including a 1964 interview with Malcolm X, just a few months before his assassination. The documentary also includes a soundtrack featuring R&B, jazz, gospel and soul hits from the 50s through the 80s, especially from the Sound of Philadelphia 

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Friday, February 24 at Noon

Sound Opinions Presents: Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Professional music critics Jim and Greg discuss influential and game-changing music from the 1960s that provided a soundtrack to the civil rights movement. They analyze tracks by artists like Sam Cooke, The Staple Singers, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone and more. They also chat with former Chicago WVON DJ Herb Kent.