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The First Black Female Radio DJ

(Mary broadcasting live, above)

We’re celebrating Black History Month by showcasing some incredible Black broadcasters. 

As a Radio Nerd, you gotta know the name Mary Dee Dudley. Mary broke racial and gender barriers by becoming the first female African American radio DJ in the states. 

Her show, ‘Movin’ Around’ started as a 15 minute segment on WHOD in Homestead, Pennsylvania on August 1, 1948. The show quickly expanded to an hour then two hours and finally, four hours. 

Despite the small range of the station (250 watts), Mary was a huge hit, receiving up to 150 fan letters a day. 

(Mary in the studio, above)

When Mary’s two hour show started, she brought her brother on as a newscaster. Her brother, Mal Goode, was a news reporter for the local Pittsburg paper - covering Jim Crow segregation, police beatings, corrupt & prejudiced politicians and housing issues. Mal eventually became the first Black reporter for the ABC news network. 

(In the WHOD Studios with her brother, above)
Mary gained the attention of 'Ebony' magazine in 1951, which helped her gain national attention and her very own studio. 'Studio Dee' opened up in the Hill District of Philly, where Mary would take requests and allow fans to watch the broadcast from the window.
mary dee dudley
(Mary in 1954, above)
She also used this show to give much needed airtime to local and Black artists. 
Mary also interviewed many huge public figures of her time including, Eartha Kitt, Nat King Cole and Tony Bennett. 

 

Mary left WHOD in 1956 to host a gospel show on WHAT Philadelphia called ‘Songs of Faith’ She hosted the show for eight years until she died of cancer in 1964.

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