What began as a social media hashtag in 2017, led to Black Women In Radio (BWIR) accepting a White House invitation before leading three special sessions at the nation’s largest and most respected repository of culture and history, the Library of Congress.
Radio royalty traveled from across the country to attend the 2023 Radio Preservation Task Force Annual Conference, many for the first time, and when President Biden’s White House Press Secretary Karine Jean Pierre acknowledged a select group of distinguished BWIR inductees at a private meeting at White House the group’s enthusiasm turned to elation followed by a resounding exhale and sentiment. Finally, women’s voices in radio are validated, and revered as a valuable addition to American history.
BWIR’s long list of radio executives, local and syndicated radio personalities, station owners, multimedia professionals, and media experts participated in a full day of conference activities as supporters, panelists, honorees, and enthusiasts of the BWIR National Historic Collection, and RPTF’s new joint project called LEGENDS. While both collections are intensely focused on Black Radio history, only one is specific to women.
For the first time in American broadcast history, archival documentation and sound preservation of Black women are finally addressed. 30+9 veteran broadcasters known as the Inaugural 30 are featured in the BWIR National Historical Collection and Oral History Project, the largest contemporary collection of its kind. Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden acknowledges the work of the collections, curator Felèsha Love, in her keynote.
Shirley Strawberry, DeDe McGuire, Jasmine Sanders, Michel Wright, Cathy Hughes, Angela Yee, Olivia Fox, Tammi Mac, Angela Stribling, Pat Prescott, Vy Higginsen, Dyana Williams, and Rashan Ali are among those featured in the collection, and whose voices will be preserved for generations to come thanks to the Atlanta University Center’s Robert W. Woodruff Library.
BWIR hosted three sessions at the Library of Congress: The State of Black Radio, The LEGENDS launch, and the BWIR Collection Reveal. Panelists engaged in lively conversation with a near-capacity audience targeting job reduction due to syndication and voice tracking; the disappearance of personality commentary; women in leadership and ownership, as well as, challenges concerning ageism and sexism. Others expressed concerns for the welfare of Black and Brown communities currently served by large corporations. According to BWIR, of 200 Black women broadcasters surveyed, 96% chose their career based on the ability to significantly serve the community.
 BWIR is a professional organization that exists to change the way women are perceived in the media. They achieve this through research, networking, and historical preservation while impacting the future of media through multimedia production, internship, and scholarship programs. BWIR established the BWIR Historical Society as a 501(c)3 to continue their work. They are currently raising money to fund a traveling exhibit for the collections. For more information log onto www.blackwomeninradio.com or contact BWIR Founder, Curator, and Project Director Felèsha Love at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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