Vernon “Dr. Daddy-O” Winslow
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The life of artist, Dillard University teacher and DJ Vernon “Dr. Daddy-O” Winslow reads like a tragicomic screenplay. Winslow is considered to have racially integrated radio in New Orleans, Louisiana between 1948 and 1950, and later introduced Black culture to broadcast audiences as the first Black DJ in the city—though not without a difficult struggle, working his way past the palace guards.

Determined to break into a business that didn’t (yet) want him, Winslow mailed scripts he’d written to local radio station WJMR. Unable to ignore the high quality of Winslow’s writing, the station hired him—but then wouldn’t let him on air.

Black folks had made enough progress by then that Black culture was starting to catch on with white audiences, especially the music. Radio stations suddenly wanted Blackness, but not actual Black radio celebrities. And so, like some long-lost Richard Pryor movie, the station’s owner made Winslow teach white disc jockey Duke Thiele to fake an African-American accent and dialect on air—not unlike modern-day conservative radio hosts Walton and Johnson. Daddy-O
christened this very popular racial Frankenstein he’d created, “Poppa Stoppa.”

“I wrote the monologue, the jive about music,” Winslow recalled to United Press International In 1987, at the age of 76. “Other stations were too dignified to play rhythm and blues.”

Despite how distasteful this all may sound, Winslow seemed to realize the end game would make it worth it: more Blackness on the air, one way or another. And with the wheels greased and New Orleans wanting more, Winslow eventually found his way onto the air: in 1950, a Jackson beer brewery hired Winslow in the public relations department of Fitzgerald Advertising Agency on the radio station WWEZ, where he invented his persona, Dr. Daddy-O, who would go on to set the standard for Black radio DJs to follow.

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