In the early 1950s, Martha Jean, would become one of but a few female broadcasters in the country working radio “on-the-air.” She landed her first DJ stint in broadcast radio when she was hired at Memphis’ WDIA in 1954.
In 1963, Bell Broadcasting in Detroit, WCHB, hired Martha Jean from Memphis’ WDIA. After three years on the radio there, she left WCHB for Detroit’s WJLB on October 24, 1966.
Fifty years ago, during the Detroit riot in July 1967, in her personal attempt to quell the widespread civil disturbance and “calm the citizenry” — Martha Jean convinced WJLB management to cancel all scheduled programming — thus allowing her to remain on the air for an unprecedented 48 consecutive hours.
The legendary soul radio personality Martha Jean, known as “The Queen,” remained a broadcasting staple for over four decades while in the Motor City. She became a formidable voice for Detroit and its inner-city core. In 1982, she purchased her own radio station, becoming management for WQBH (formerly Detroit’s WMZK).
She remained there on the air until the day she passed away, January 29, 2000.
CAROLYN CRAWFORD (age 13) won a 1963 talent contest staged by radio station WCHB in Detroit, the prize being a contract with the city’s biggest label, Motown Records. Her debut single, which she wrote, “Forget About Me,” proved unsuccessful at the time (1963). But she had a minor US hit in 1964(R&B; #39) with Smokey Robinson’s “My Smile Is Just A Frown (Turned Upside Down).” Her third release, “When Someone’s Good To You,” flopped in the USA, but became a cult record among British soul fans. “I’ll Come Running,” written by her as well, would be Carolyn Crawford’s last single she would record for the Detroit label. Crawford would depart from Motown Records sometime before the end of 1964. (Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin)
DETROIT FREE PRESSWednesday, July 8, 1964. In this newspaper ad, Carolyn Crawford is denoted having been the named winner, previous year, of the WCHB Talent Contest in 1963.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: WCHB-AM ‘Bill Williams, In Radio By Accident’
(Above WCHB related article is courtesy freep.com newspaper archive. Copyright 2016. Newspapers.com).
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BILLBOARD HOT 40 R&B SINGLES SPECIAL SURVEYJuly 31, 1965(click on chart 2x for largest view)
THE NO. 1 HOTTEST R&B SINGLE IN AMERICA ’65 * FOUR TOPS
THE NO. 2 HOTTEST R&B SINGLE IN AMERICA ’65 * WILSON PICKETT
THE NO. 3 HOTTEST R&B SINGLE IN AMERICA ’65 * SOLOMON BURKE
THE NO. 4 HOTTEST R&B SINGLE IN AMERICA ’65 * BILLY STEWART
THE NO. 5 HOTTEST R&B SINGLE IN AMERICA ’65 * BARBARA MASON
WCHB / WJLB ‘TOP 5’ DETROIT
The ‘Top 5’ soul records also were the most popular radio plays heard on Detroit’s two R&B stations 1440WCHB and 1400WJLB on the AM dial at the time, as well as other record selections off this chart, as tabulated nationally, week-ending 07/24/65.