Known as the most-sampled artist in the world, James Brown also was a radio pioneer who will soon be honored for his work in this field.
Brown, who owned several successful radio stations during his life, will be inducted into the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Oct. 15. His daughter, Deanna Brown Thomas, will accept the award for her father.
“He wanted to be a positive image, especially for young African-Americans to say that, hey, these are the things that you can do and be successful,” said Brown Thomas, who had a 20-year broadcasting career that began at her father’s WAAW in Aiken.
Brown purchased and operated several stations, including WRDW-AM in Augusta and WJBE in Knoxville, Tenn., which has call letters, assigned by the FCC in 1968, that stand for James Brown Enterprises.
Brown gave Augusta broadcaster Minnesota Fattz a start at one of his stations, as he did Augusta businessman Robert “Flash” Gordon, whom Brown made programming director at WJBE and later his national programming director.
“He was always doing new things; he was always having new ideas about how a station could help expose more artists,” said Gordon, the former manager of James Brown Arena and longtime owner of Augusta’s two Pyramid Music stores.
Gordon spoke about his radio days with Brown in a 2008 music documentary.
“I got around the world on that DVD,” Gordon said.
Brown also owned WEBB, short for “We enjoy being black,” in Baltimore, and was co-owner with Pervis Spann of Atlanta’s WERD, which had been the first black-owned and-operated station, Brown Thomas said.
“He gave a lot of jocks, both black and white, an opportunity to work in radio for many years in different places,” she said.
Emmy-winning actor and Sirius Radio host Jay Thomas will be master of ceremonies at the Georgia Radio Hall of Fame ceremony. Candidates for the career achievement award include longtime Augusta’s WGAC personality Harley Drew.