Little Known Black History Fact: William E. Summers III And WLOU

The late Rev. William E. Summers III was a pioneering figure in Black radio in the state of Kentucky. In 1967, he became the first Black person to manage a radio station in the United States, and in 1971 he was the first Black person in Kentucky to own a station.

Born in 1918, Rev. Summers worked for WLOU as a part-time sports announcer. The station, which made its debut on this day in 1948, switched its format to cater to African-American listeners in 1951. Summers, who was an ordained A.M.E. minister and Army veteran, joined the station that year and rose to the executive ranks. WLOU was one of five original R&B stations in Kentucky and enjoyed strong ratings despite its AM location.

Summers purchased the station in 1971 and ran WLOU until selling the station to the Johnson Publishing Company in 1982. He remained a management consultant there until 1988. Summers also helped co-found the Clothe-A-Child, Inc. nonprofit in 1977, which provided clothing for Louisville’s poor youth.