Pittsburgh Music Story‎ > ‎Radio‎ > ‎

Mary Dee Dudley

Home Venues Rock Doo Wop Radio Jazz Pop Blueshttps://www.facebook.com/pittmusic

First African American Female Radio DJ and Radio Pioneer

Mary Dee Dudley in 1948 broke racial and gender barriers by becoming the nation’s first African American female disk jockey. She launched her daily 15 minute show “Movin’ Around” on station WHOD in Homestead, Pa.  Within six months her show was expanded from 15 minutes to an hour, and two years later to two hours. On her show Mary played the latest records by African American artists, introduced local talent, and interviewed national celebrities like Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, and Jackie Robinson.  She attracted national attention when Ebony magazine spotlighted her show.  In August 1951, her show moved to “Studio Dee” at the corner of Herron and Center avenues in the Pittsburgh Hill district.  Mary broadcast behind a large storefront window as young fans looked in and requested songs.  Around 1954 her show was expanded to four hours, and “Studio D” moved downtown to Centre Avenue in the Courier building.  Mary left WHOD in 1956 to work in Baltimore. She worked for eight years on  station WHAT in Philadelphia where she hosted a Monday through Saturday gospel music show called “Songs of Faith.

Born Mary Goode, Mary Dee was a native of Homestead, Pa, and the daughter of William Goode, owner of the Hill District’s 24-hour pharmacy,  She graduated from Homestead High School and attended Howard University.  After completing studies at Pittsburgh’s St. Mann Radio School she applied for a DJ job at the about to be launched new radio station WHOD in Homestead.  The station owner Ferree said she could have a show if she found her own sponsor.  She quickly found one.  On Aug. 1, 1948, when WHOD went on the air for the first time, “Mary Dee” broadcast her first 15 minute show to become the nation’s first African American female disk jockey with a daily show. She broadcast on WHOD from 1948 to 1956.  WHOD changed its call letters to WAMO in 1956, 

When Mary's show was expanded to show two hours, she brought in her brother, Mal, to run a daily Courier news segment.  Mal was a reporter for the Pittsburgh Courier.   Mal covered police beatings, Jim Crow segregation, poor housing and prejudiced politicians.  She also added Toki Johnson and Hazel Garland to cover community and woman’s issues.  Mary Dee pioneered the basic African American radio format with music, news and community affairs.   Her brother Mal went on to become the first African American news reporter for the ABC TV Network.

Mary Dee and her Brother Mal Goode