Rolling Out

Pervis Spann, co-founder of Midway Broadcasting, has died

Pervis Spann, co-founder of Midway Broadcasting, has died
Pervis Spann (Photo courtesy of Hermene Hartman)

Pervis Spann the legendary disc jockey of  the historic Black radio station WVON based in Chicago died on March 14, 2022 at the age of 89. Spann died as a result of complications due to alzheimer’s, according to a statement from WVON-AM 1690. Spann was president emeritus and co-founder of Midway Broadcasting company, the parent company of WVON.

Spann was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi on Aug. 16, 1932. His life’s journey took him from picking cotton to becoming a soldier and ultimately becoming one of the most notable individuals in the history of broadcast radio.

Early on in his career Spann organized and promoted concerts featuring B.B. King and Junior Parker. Soon after Spann hosted a late-night blues show on WVON. Spann was known as the “Blues Man” in the industry. He leveraged the popularity of his show to raise money for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights era. Spann is also known as the person who declared Aretha Franklin the “Queen of Soul.”

Spann was an example of Black excellence in broadcast journalism with a career that lasted for over 60 years. His daughter Melody Spann-Cooper carries on her father’s legacy as the leader of WVON.

“He wanted us to be educated. He felt there was no ceiling to what we could become or what we could be. He was a workaholic. He never drank. He never smoked.

“He was such a good father that any guy who I ever dated, if he was not up to par, I just couldn’t be with him,” she said. “He used to teach us, ‘There’s no big me’s and little you’s. You want to treat the prisoner like the president.” said Melody Spann-Cooper in an interview with The Chicago Sun-Times.

Spann is survived by his wife of 67 years, Lovie, and his four children Melody, Darrell, Latrice and Chanté. Funeral services will be held at Apostolic Church of God, 6320 S. Dorchester Ave., Chicago at noon March 23, 2022.

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