BALTIMORE - Dorothy Brunson, the first black female radio station owner in America, died this past weekend after complications from ovarian cancer. She was 72.
Brunson got her start in 1962 as the assistant controller of New York City's WWRL-AM (1600). She rose through the ranks to become GM, and later joined WLIB-AM.
She was there when WLIB-FM (107.5) was turned into the modern-day WBLS-FM under Inner City Broadcasting.
Brunson also helped start one of Madison Avenue's first African-American advertising agencies when she co-founded Howard Sanders Advertising.
She later moved to Baltimore, where she purchased WEBB (1360) in 1979. In 1986 she would buy WGTW-TV/Channel 48 in Philadelphia
Brunson told the AFRO she was most proud of WGTW TV48 in Philadelphia because it helped hundreds of minorities “get into all aspects of the broadcasting business – from cameramen to editors to on-screen talent.” And that she “opened the eyes of the general market to the fact that Blacks and women can compete and run an efficient station and be profitable.”
“Thanks to the pioneering work of Ms. Brunson, the world of broadcast media was opened up to African-American entrepreneurs and business leaders,” said Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings Blake. “Her vision and commitment to excellence at every level of the business led to her success and paved the way for others to find success in cities across America.”
Black Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, had high praise for the pioneering Brunson. “We have lost a trailblazer in Dorothy Brunson,” said Cummings. “As the owner of WEBB, she raised both her profile and that of her radio station, showing the power that African American media can have in the marketplace. When she had proven her prowess in the theatre of the mind, Dorothy took her place in the history of the visual arts. Her purchase of a television station in Philadelphia continued her trailblazing path through the media world, where she met with equal success. In a market that seldom sees minority ownership and boasts even fewer women in the seats of power, Dorothy will serve as a stunning role model to African American women long after her passing. My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends in this difficult time. We have truly lost a legend.”
Funeral services will begin with the viewing Saturday morning at the Pennsylvania Avenue AME Zion Church in Baltimore.