History Highlights: Media

Black media outlets have been crucial to African-Americans getting their voices heard, issues addressed and culture celebrated. North Omaha has had its share of Black media entities and personalities. Several national figures got their start here.

Since 1938, the Omaha Star newspaper has been the conscience of Omaha’s Black community. Founder Mildred Brown took strong stands on social issues while charming and shaming advertisers to support the causes she championed. She was a rare woman publisher in a male-dominated industry. In its ninth decade, the paper, now led by her niece Marguerita Washington, still practices advocacy journalism. National media mogul Cathy Hughes, whose mother Helen Jones Woods played in the all-female mixed-race band, the International Sweethearts of Rhythm, considered Mildred Brown a mentor. Hughes got her start in broadcasting at Omaha Black radio station KOWH before establishing the urban format back east and building her nationwide Radio One empire, now expanded to TV One.

KOWH transitioned from Top 40 to black soul when a group of local residents, including professional athletes Bob Boozer and Bob Gibson and community leaders Rodney Wead and Larry Littlejohn, purchased the station. Operations manager and program director Edward King went to Stax Records and is now a media consultant.

Charles Washington didn’t mince words as a Omaha Star reporter and community affairs TV program host. Award-winning photojournalist Rudy Smith became the Omaha World-Herald’s first black newsroom staffer. He documented decades of North Omaha history and has a traveling national exhibit.

Before opening the Great Plains Black History Museum, Bertha Calloway helped integrate WOWT. Harold Dow was a KETV reporter, co-anchor and public affairs host before his CBS News career. At KETV, Ben Gray was an award-winning news videographer and the longtime host of Kaleidoscope before becoming an Omaha elected official. Ray Metoyer Jr., whose family owned an Omaha barbecue place, was a local TV reporter before finding big market success.

Trina Creighton broke ground as a KMTV black female anchor/host and as a tenured University of Nebraska-Lincoln broadcast journalism professor. Her daughter Rielle is on her own TV news path. Former KETV anchor Michael Scott went on to Entertainment Tonight.

Sybil Meyer, whose family owned Meyer Funeral Home, was a beloved World Herald reporter.