The legacy of Dorothy Brunson: Black female radio innovator

  • Written by Megan Sayles
  • Published on 21st July 2021
    Dorothy Brunson was a trailblazer for Black women in broadcasting, and she pioneered the urban contemporary format for radio. (Courtesy photo)
  • Radio was where notable Black women like Oprah Winfrey and Cathy Hughes got their start, but it was the late Dorothy Brunson who laid the groundwork for Black women to enter the broadcasting industry. She was the first African American woman to own a radio station. “She was the trailblazer who opened the door for others,” said Ed Brunson, Ms. Brunson’s son.
  • Brunson grew up in Georgia but moved to New York City in her late teens. This would be the setting for the jumpstart of her career. She got her first job at a Madison Avenue advertising agency, and shortly after, climbed the ranks to become manager of the company.
  • Her ventures in radio started with Inner City Broadcasting when she was hired as a secretary for WLIB radio station. She quickly worked her way up to manage the station, and then went on to manage WBLS radio station. Eventually, Inner City Broadcasting made her the general manager for the entire company.


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