Wesley South

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Template:TOCnestleft Wesley M. South a longtime journalist who was a staple at the black-owned WVON radio station, died January 2010 at his home in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood. He was 95.

Mr. South, who was the chairman emeritus of Midway Broadcasting Corp. and hosted the popular talk program, "Hotline," was a pioneering voice in African-American talk radio.

Mr. South is survived by his daughter, retired Appellate Court Justice Leslie South, and grandson Wesley Jackson. His wife, Mildred South, preceded him in death.[1]


Mr. South, a former columnist for Chicago's American, began his radio career with WVON in 1963. The program's first major coup was when it aired one of the last interviews with murdered civil rights activist Medgar Evers in June 1963.

Out of WVON's small Brighton Park studio, Mr. Smith, a veteran of World War II and a former union activist, interviewed such luminaries as Sen. Robert Kennedy, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., baseball great Jackie Robinson and activist Malcolm X according to the station. One notable local however -- Mayor Richard J. Daley -- refused to come on Mr. South's program, the Tribune reported.

The program's ability to attract political heavyweights and its willingness to tackle hot-button topics ushered in the station's switch from music to talk. Up until that time, WVON, then known as the "Voice of the Negro," was popular for its cast of popular music DJs including Herb Kent and Pervis Spann.

In 1975, Mr. South and Spann formed Midway Broadcasting Corporation and acquired WVON Radio. In 1986, Mr. South changed WVON's format from music to full-time talk, positioning the station as a major powerhouse for community activism and empowerment. The change caused tension between Mr. South and Spann, who would battle for years over control over the station.

Mr. South, one of the first African Americans to graduate from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, also wrote for the Chicago Defender, the Chicago American, the Chicago Daily News and Johnson Publishing Company.[2]

Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices

In January 1969, the Chicago radical newspaper, Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, listed those who had helped produce its first 16 monthly issues as "writers, researchers, photographers, artists and clerical workers".

The list included Wesley South.[3]

World Peace Council

In the late 1970s, the Information Centre of the Soviet front World Peace Council, Helsinki Finland, published a booklet naming members of the organization, worldwide.[4]

We publish in this booklet a list of members of the World Peace Council elected at the Council's Session in Warsaw in 1977.

U.S. members listed, included; Wesley South, Broadcaster; Popular Radio programe, Chicago.

Salute to Harold Washington

On April 6, 1983, the Hyde Park Herald published an endorsement from the Hyde Park/Kenwood Citizens Committee of Democratic Party Chicago mayoral candidate Harold Washington. Signatories to the endorsement included Wesley South and Mildred South.[5]



  1. [1] Pioneer African-American talk-radio host Wesley South dies, Chicago Breaking News Center, Jan. 10, 2010
  2. [2] Pioneer African-American talk-radio host Wesley South dies, Chicago Breaking News Center, Jan. 10, 2010
  3. Hyde Park-Kenwood Voices, January 16 1969, page 4
  4. WORLD PEACE COUNCIL LIST OF MEMBERS 1977-1980, Information Centre of the World Peace Council Lönnrotinkatu 25 A 5 krs 00180 Helsinki 18 Finland
  5. Hyde Park Herald April 6, 1983, page 8