WVON hosts star-studded anniversary party

April 6, 2013 8:54:29 PM PDT
A Chicago institution celebrated its golden anniversary and who's-who of the entertainment industry showed up when the red carpet got rolled out for WVON radio, the city's pre-eminent African-American radio station marking its 50th anniversary.

It was a packed house at the Chicago Theatre Saturday night as singer Toni Braxton headlined WVON's 50th anniversary celebration.

"This is an absolutely incredible night," said WVON President Melody Spann Cooper. "It's spectacular. It brings tears to my eyes."

The star-studded gala was a veritable who's who of Chicago's African American community, as well as its entertainers, and politicians.

Among those walking the golden carpet were actor comedian Robert Townsend, civil rights activist Dick Gregory, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Star Wars director George Lucas, businesswoman Mellody Hobson and Governor Pat Quinn. All stopped briefly to pay tribute to Chicago's only African-American owned and operated radio station.

"You almost can't understand it now, but you go back 50 years ago and realize how rigid racism and sexism were and this was the only voice we had to listen," Gregory said.

"I learned about The Temptations," Townsend said. "When people were looting on the streets when Martin Luther King got killed, the exclusive broadcast came from WVON."

"A launching pad for Harold Washington and President Barack Obama," Rev. Jackson said. "The station with the smallest wattage, but the most productive."

Once inside, actress Tracee Ellis Ross and WVON's Matt McGill hosted an entertainment packed evening which culminated with the multi-Grammy Award winning Toni Braxton taking the stage to sing some of her greatest hits.