Pioneer black radio station owner and operator
|Born:||November 26, 1913, Talladega, Alabama|
|Died:||July 21, 1980, Huntsville, Alabama|
|Buried:||Northside Cemetery, Huntsville, Alabama|
The Following Pages Link to this Page:
• "A native of Talladega, he owned a dry-cleaning business in Birmingham during the 1940s, then entered the broadcasting field by becoming a disc jockey at radio station WVOK in Birmingham. In 1957 he moved to Huntsville and opened station WEUP in a house trailer, broadcasting with 1,000 watts, becoming the successful owner of the first black-owned and operated radio station in Alabama. Later he applied for a permit to broadcast at night, was refused, took his case to the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and won. The decision led to changes in the Federal Communications Commission law. In 1966 the station moved into permanent quarters, with a broadcasting capacity of 5,000 watts. In later years the station was known as a training ground for black broadcasters. He died of a heart attack while a patient in Huntsville Hospital." - Marks
• In the 1920 census, Leroy was 5 years old living with his mother, Edna Garrett, and father, Roy Garrett. There were eight children of Roy and Edna listed here. They ranged in age from 19 to 4. Only one on the list was younger than Leroy. His father was listed as a farmer. Location: Alpine, Talladega County, Alabama. - 1920 US Census
• In this census, Leroy was listed as 26 years old living on 14th Street in Birmingham, Alabama. He was married to Vivla. His occupation was listed as "Proprietor of a Cleaning Shop" and working on own account. If we are reading the chart correctly, they were renting their home for $7 a month. - 1940 US Census
• WEUP Station History
(Huntsville, Alabama) -- In 1958, the beginning of the high tech era, Huntsville proudly announced that the formation of a new Army Missile Command was underway. Meanwhile, an equally important event occured at about the same time -- Alabama's first black-owned and black-operated radio station, WEUP, took to the airwaves on March 20th, 1958. The 100 watt AM station, owned by Leroy and Viola Garrett, signed on from a pink trailer on the grounds of Syler Tabernacle Church. The broadcast was a mix of gospel, sermons, news, and rythmn and blues from sun-up to 6 p.m. every evening.
For the first time ever, black listeners in and around Huntsville, Alabama, had a voice of their own. Listeners of 1600 AM were able to hear a viable mix of gospel and soul music as well as news and public affairs catering to the interests of the Tennessee Valley's black population.
The Garrets continued making history in the 1960s. Their unwavering determination and perserverance, and public testimony before a congressional committee in 1963, resulted in the change of a Federal Communication Commission (FCC) law regulating 24-hour broadcasts. That year WEUP began 24-hour broadcasts -- yet another milestone for black radio.
When Mrs. Garrett decided to sell the station in 1987, there was a silent nod to tradition as another successful, black, husband and wife team, Hundley Batts, Sr. and Dr. Virginia Caples, took the reins of ownership and operation of WEUP.
Realizing the important history and obvious potential of the radio station, the new owners acquired another station, WEUZ 92.1 FM in Minor Hill, Tennessee and brought WEUP onto the FM broadcast airwaves.
Operating under the parent company name of BROADCAST ONE, Mr. Batts & Dr. Caples continued to expand the station's audience by acquiring Moulton, Alabama's WHIY 1190 AM, WEUP-FM 103.1, and adding WEUV-AM 1700 to the group of stations that are part of Huntsville's Heritage Station. Today, with 25,000 watts stemming from WEUP-FM 103.1, 5,000 watts beaming from WEUP AM 1600, coupled with 10,000 watts coming from WEUV AM 1700, 2,500 watts from WHIY AM 1190, and 6,000 watts from WEUZ FM 92.1 in Minor Hill, Tennessee, BROADCAST ONE's owners, along with its management and staff, are poised to continue the legacy of professionalism established by Leroy and Viola Garrett almost half a century ago. Our reach now goes beyond the airwaves, as technology is allowing us to be heard globally on both of our web sites at www.103weup.com or www.weupam.com
We continue to grow and evolve while keeping one important constant in mind, our commitment to deliver the urban perspective, not only to listeners in two states, but also around the world. The WEUP family of stations remains firmly committed to that goal and will continue to carry the torch and provide the community with a voice of its own. - WEUP AM
• "WEUP (AM) began broadcasting on March 20, 1958, on a 100-watt 1600 kHz AM station owned by Leroy and Viola Garrett, who became the first African-American owners of a radio station in the state of Alabama. WEUP-AM first broadcast from a pink trailer in the grounds of Syler Tabernacle Church in Huntsville, before moving to its present studios on Jordan Lane. The station's format was a mixture of urban contemporary gospel and soul music as well as news and public affairs catering to the interests of the Tennessee Valley's black population, everyday from sunrise to 6 p.m.
The Garretts made history when they testified before a congressional committee in 1963, the outcome of which resulted in the change of a Federal Communications Commission law regulating 24-hour broadcasts in the 1960s. That year WEUP-AM began 24-hour broadcasts, yet another milestone for urban radio." - Wikipedia WEUP
• Garrett applied for a permit to extend broadcasting hours into the night. The permit was refused and so Garrett took his case to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, and won. The decision led to changes in the Federal Communications Commission law. - Justia.com
• "Huntsville, ALA. (AP) - Leroy Garrett, a black pioneer in radio broadcasting, died Monday at the age of 66.
Mr. Garrett, owner and manger of radio station WEUP in Huntsville, died of a heart attack at the Huntsville hospital.
A native of Talladega, Ala., he emerged from the cotton fields and became the successful owner of the first black owned and operated radio station in Alabama.
Mr. Garrett started WEUP in a house trailer that was converted to a radio station in 1958. Today it has become a complex that covers 11.5 acres.
The station has served as a training ground for many minority broadcasters throughout the United States." - Toledo Blade
• 1920 US Census - This view of the census through an Ancestry.com paid subscription.
• 1940 US Census - This view of the census through an Ancestry.com paid subscription.
• Find A Grave - Find a Grave
• Jet - Jet Magazine's article when Mr. Garrett died. Jet, January 22, 1981.
• Justia.com - This is the Appeal
• Leagle - Garrett v. F. C. C. with opinion. Originally posted at
• Marks - Alabama Past Leaders, by Henry S. and Marsha Kass Marks, 1982, pages 107 & 108.
• Toledo Blade - Toledo Blade, July 22, 1980 (Obituary from AP).
• WEUP AM - Station History found on the WEUP Station History.
• Wikipedia WEUP - Early history of the radio station.
• Viola McCrary Garrett