Little Rock’s KOKY-FM has a rich history in serving the African-American community of the Arkansas city. Although its station location has changed over the years, its aims in serving Black listeners in the region has not. The station was first established in 1956 on the AM dial at 1440.
It is Arkansas’ first radio station devoted to all-Black programming aimed towards the Black audience. The station’s original home was near Central High School, the once segregated school that was the center of controversy during the embattled enrollment of the Little Rock Nine in 1957.
Years later, when the school was desegregated, Central High student Al Bell honed his skills as a radio personality at KOKY, recalling that Black and white students danced and gathered peacefully at the radio station before classes.
Bell and fellow jock Leo “Jocko” Carter kept listeners in tune with the latest in Black music, while also keeping them abreast of happenings in Little Rock. Bell became involved in the Civil Rights Movement and later became a teacher.
Bell eventually became the co-owner of Stax Records and turned it into a powerful record company. Today, KOKY sits on the FM dial at 102.1 and currently maintains its status as an “urban” radio station.