According to American radio pioneer Jack The Rapper, Miami’s own Milton “Butterball” Smith was one of America’s 13 Original Black DJ’s.
The first South Florida station that Smith worked for was WFEC. His name there was “Fat Daddy,” a moniker he left behind when he was hired by rival station WMBM.
Competition made for great radio and WFEC was invested in knocking out their adversaries with programming the likes of which Miami and Ft Lauderdale had never seen before.
Check out the above 1953 clipping from the Miami Times newspaper where WFEC took out a full page ad to welcome their newest DJ Jockey Jack and also proclaim their being the “First and only all negro program station in Miami.”
This brings up an interesting point. If you look at old radio schedules for stations that offered gospel and r&b programming (like WMBM), they also had shows as diverse as Hungarian Church Service and Schacter’s Y’dish Hour (sic. Yiddish) .
Going to a format where the only target demographic was African-American and Afro-Carribbean was a bold move. And it took a vibrant staff of personalities and shows like Rocky Groce with “The Ebony Express,” Joe Walker and Leona Everett with “Glory Road,” newspaper man Elliot J Pieze with “Local News,” Charles North with “Man On The Street,” and r&b swinger Jockey Jack playing all the newest indie r&b records that Henry Stone would hand him (along with some cash in the sleeve).
The station had a broadcast studio at 350 NE 71st St not far from Liberty City.
Henry Stone knew all of these DJ’s personally. He cultivated them as ambassadors for the records he sold to jukebox operators, whose routes went through whorehouses, juke joints, saloons, and restaurants from Key West to Pensacola.
Here’s what Stone had to say, “I controlled the radio down here completely man, black radio. I built relationships with Butterball, Ed Cook, and Jockey Jack and all those guys. Give em like $50 or $100 a record. You gotta spend a buck to make a buck. You can’t have it all.”
Newspaper clips ©MiamiTimes.
Text ©Jake Katel and HenryStoneMusic USA Inc. All Rights Reserved