WVON turning 50 is a historical event that brought prominent figures from all over the country to partake in the celebration. The stage was set at the famous Chicago Theater, headlined by the sultry and seductive Toni Braxton. WVON steps to the big stage to tell its story from the beginning to the present. The early tagline was the voice of the Negro in a time were there weren’t any Black folks on radio in Chicago. WVON was Created and pioneered in Braking records from Chess to Motown. Later during the sixties it was intricately involved in the civil rights movement, with special guest such as Dr. Martin Luther King answering questions live, to taking to the airwaves calling for calm after Dr. King’s assassination.
WVON was credited in limiting the rioting and killings in the streets of Chicago. The eighties brought about community empowerment for the station with the election of Harold Washington; WVON was instrumental in getting out the vote that helped Mayor Washington become the first African American to hold that position in Chicago. Today WVON is continuing in its great legacy of community and political engagement, moving from the Voice of the Negro to the Voice of the Nation. Which was a great segue into the development of a young community organizer named Barack Obama, who used WVON as his platform that propelled him all the way to the White House. Saturday Night’s Celebration was MC’d by Radio personality Matt McGill and actress, Tracee Ellis Ross, matching wit and humor to keep the crowed entertained and Gala flowing seamlessly.
The celebration of WVON’s span of work over the past 50 years, was highlighted with luminaries such as: Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Cathy Hughes, Dick Gregory and actor Robert Townsend expounding on the importance and impact that WVON has had on Chicago and the Nation. The Gala was capped off with the soulful sounds of Toni Braxton singing a medley of her hits, leaving the audience wanting more.