Happy 40th Anniversary WGPR-TV

Shamarie By Shamarie, 29th Sep 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1hlfowry/
Posted in Wikinut>News>Media

WGPR-TV Detroit, the first African-American-owned television station in the United States, first aired forty years ago today.

Black-Owned Television Station

Forty years ago today, on September 29, 1975, WGPR-TV (Where God’s Presence Radiates) first aired nationally on channel 62 in Detroit, Michigan. It was historic and monumental because WGPR-TV was the first African-American-owned television station in the United States.

William Venoid Banks founded WGPR-TV, located in Detroit, Michigan. The television station marketed toward the urban audience in Detroit, Michigan, which in that market meant programming for the African-American community. William Venoid Banks’ vision that WGPR-TV provide African Americans with crucial training and experience in the television industry, allowing many local blacks the opportunity to work "behind the camera" in producing, directing and other roles which placed content on air. At the time, WGPR's emergence was hailed as an advance for African-American enterprise, with the "color line" having been broken by the station's establishment. Operating as an independent station, WGPR-TV broadcast religious shows, R&B music shows, off-network dramas, syndicated shows, and older cartoons.

Popular Shows

WGPR-TV aired some locally produced programming including Big City News, The Scene, and Arab Voice of Detroit

Big City News was a Monday through Friday newscast that aimed to focus on community activities from the African American perspective, highlighting positive “success stories.” Big City News discontinued in 1992. The Scene, a nightly dance show that offered young Detroiters an opportunity to display their musical and dance talents, ran from 1975 to 1987. Arab Voice of Detroit was a public affairs show directed toward the significant Arab-American population in Detroit and its suburbs.

CBS Purchased WGPR-TV

WGPR-TV was very popular among Black viewers, but failed to attract a large audience outside the African American community. Even within that community, it competed with larger stations that after 1975 offered more programs directed toward African Americans. After 1980, the station faced its most powerful competition in the Black Entertainment Television (BET). Furthermore, with its 800,000-watt signal compared with 2 million watts for major Detroit TV stations, WGPR-TV never reached an audience beyond the city of Detroit. By the 1990s, WGPR aired primarily reruns and infomercials.

On July 25, 1995, CBS purchased WGPR-TV amid controversy from the black community, which felt that the station should remain under African American management. Two months later, CBS changed the television station name to WWJ-TV and targeted its programming for a general audience.

The Detroit Historical Museum is setting up an exhibit on the history of WGPR-TV, which may eventually be moved into a proposed museum at the former WGPR-TV studio location.

Image credit




Broadcasting, Shamarie Knight, Wgpr-Tv

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author avatar Shamarie
I am a passionate writer from Harlem, New York. My expertise is creative writing and poetry. I enjoy expressing myself freely on paper and sharing my ideas with the world.

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author avatar Shamarie
29th Sep 2015 (#)

Thanks for the moderation, Steve!!!

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author avatar Carol Roach
29th Sep 2015 (#)

that is great, I am not even sure if we have a black station here in Momtreal

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author avatar Deepizzaguy
29th Sep 2015 (#)

Thank you for sharing this story of the television station in Detroit. I was always thought the Black Entertainment Television was the first African American television station.

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
30th Sep 2015 (#)

Wow great piece of history in Motown awesome post Shamarie!

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