I was twenty-three and had been working at WDIA for one year, as long as the station had been on the air. Unexpectedly, Bert asked me to move a little closer to him on the seat. I edged over and waited but he didn’t speak. After a long moment he whispered, just loud enough for me to hear, “What do you think of programming for Negro people?”
After breakfast on Saturday, my mama would turn on the WDIA program All Blues Saturday and the blues would growl out of the cream-and-gold GE radio on the kitchen counter, eclipsing my cartoons. Sometimes, she would call to my daddy that one of his songs was on and they would share a low, private chuckle about old times. Grown-up times. Mississippi times.
Remembering B.B. King.
Many wonderful anecdotes from King’s long, prolific life have been told in our pages through the years, from the moment in 1948 when he arrived unannounced at Memphis’s WDIA, integrating the airwaves, to his performance last year in Indianola, Mississippi, where he returned for his final homecoming concert at age eighty-eight.