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The National Black Network became the first coast-to-coast radio network fully owned by Black Americans on July 2, 1973. The NBN was the brainchild of white media executive Robert Pauley, who eventually handed over the idea to a trio of Black executives.

Pauley, a president of both ABC Radio and Mutual Broadcasting System, looked for a way to utilize Mutual’s unused network lines to create 117 stations to serve a Black audience. When Pauley failed to raise the $1 million in capital he needed, he turned to Eugene Jackson, an electrical engineer and Black business consultant.

Sydney L. Small, a former employee of the ABC Radio Network, and Del Raycee of Mutual Broadcasting, then joined Jackson. The three launched the NBN in New York with 25 affiliate stations initially. Some of the network’s big shows included “Night Talk” with Bob Law and “One Black Man’s Opinion hosted by Roy Wood. Another prominent fixture on NBN was Frank Bannister Jr.

The NBN ended operations in 1995, merging with the Sheridan Broadcasting Network to form the American Urban Radio Network.

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