MARMIA’s Broadcasting Oral History Collection was created to record and preserve the unique stories of the Mid-Atlantic region’s broadcasting history. Through a partnership with Chesapeake Heartland, we started the Black Broadcasters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland Project. The main goal of this project is to record the experiences of Black Americans who worked in television and radio broadcasting on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. These oral histories are primary source records and are made freely available to everyone. These voices add a unique and critical perspective to the historical narrative of broadcasting history in the region.

WKHS 90.5 FM is a student public radio based in Worton, Maryland. It was founded by the Kent County Public School System in 1974 and is one of the most powerful high school stations in the country reaching 60 miles in any direction, and streams online. The program trains future broadcasters by day and features community members in the evenings. We interviewed three community members and one former student affiliated with WKHS.

Yvette Hynson is known as DJ Lady Praise, and she hosts the “Sunday Jazz Experience.” Yvette is the first Black woman to have a show at WKHS. She always thought it would be fun to be a DJ. Although she knew she had a nice voice and would sing in her church choir, she never thought she had a voice for radio and did not pursue broadcasting. She was thrilled when Chris Singleton, the manager of WKHS, approached her about doing her own radio show in 2018. Yvette brings her background in sociology and non-profit management to the show, and is passionate about providing an outlet for nonprofits to talk about their programming and how they’re helping community members.

(Due to an inconsistent internet connection, this interview contains recording errors)
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Yvette Hynson: We are always honoring [nonprofits by] having them on the show, talking to them about their different programs in the community and how those nonprofits are helping community members, whatever, whatever they’re doing. I just like to give back and have them on the show…as you know as a nonprofit, it’s very hard to get your name out there among other nonprofits so if you have a platform like a radio station – and the radio station WKHS FM – we have a powerful antenna that goes across four states and also it’s streaming so you have two million people that are listening nationally, internationally, and locally too so it’s pretty cool, very, very cool.

Yvette’s cohosts are Sam Moore (DJ Whisper) and Milford Murray (DJ King). Yvette invited them to join her on the show and their passions for all things music, jazz, and community are palpable. The show is truly a labor of love. Every Sunday they produce a segment featuring an album, share a Black history fact, and interview community members.  

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Sam Moore: I think we have the best interviews. We’re meeting musicians now, you know. People doing things in the community and it’s great to be able to have that platform. You know, to do something good.

Milford Murray: Yeah, for the community.

Sam Moore: And the world.

Sam Ringgold spent summers mowing lawns and working at the corn factory in Chestertown, Maryland. When attending Kent County High School, his choices for curriculums included welding, graphic arts, and auto mechanics, among others, but his interest was piqued by the radio booth.

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Sam Ringgold: That looked cool to me and I’m like, “That’s what I want to do.” And that was really for me that moment where I knew I wanted to pursue that. Make a really long story short between the 10th grade, which you couldn’t start the vocational curriculum, until 10th grade. So, between 10th grade and my senior year, I spent – accumulated, 750 hours in that high school radio station. I knew it’s what I wanted to do it, you know, a lot of the challenge was, you know, even at home, my mom worked in the cafeteria at the high school and, you know, so when I told her, what I wanted to do, I mean that probably was my biggest challenge because, you know, they didn’t know anyone, personally who had succeeded and done that. There were only one or two Blacks on most of the TV stations at the time, like, every station had one, right? So, you know, I remember Mom, you know, pretty candidly saying, “I don’t know that you can do that.” Right? I’m like, “I think I can.”

Sam graduated from the WKHS radio program in 1977 and then the Broadcasting Institute of Maryland the following year. Afterwards, Sam went on to have a career in radio, television, and public relations in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. He covered one of Ted Turner’s press conferences introducing CNN, and the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia, among many other stories. When looking back at his career, Sam recounted the importance of communicating truthfully with the public, especially when he was the spokesperson for the Baltimore Police Department in the nineties.

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Sam Ringgold: So toughest agency in town, I’ve got the mayor thinking that, you know, I’m the person for the job and, you know, I took it as a honor because there were issues at the police department in terms of how they were dealing with the media, in terms of how they were interacting with the public at large, right? It was at the time of, you know, community-oriented policing being introduced, and they were the polar opposites of how they were dealing with the community. So I saw it as opportunity to kind of you know, be a change agent in some ways.

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Sam Ringgold: The thing that was real interesting with the police department and, you know, kind of real rewarding to this day and that was a lot of years ago where little old ladies, would walk up to me on the street. They still remember me, which is amazing in itself, but they will say, “We still miss you at that police department because we didn’t always like what you were saying, but we always knew you were telling us the truth.” And that was for me, that was the win, right? You may not always like what I’m saying, right? But I’m always going to give it to you straight. But I’m always going to give it to you straight, which is to this day in the crisis and reputation management role. Right? We have a lot of clients who are facing some of life’s more difficult moments, right? Whether it’s self-inflicted, whether it’s a managerial misstep, whether something happened in the organization that they didn’t see coming. We deal with clients who find themselves in some pretty rough spots. It still comes down to me, of being the one who, telling people things that don’t want to hear. But they know I’m going to give it to him straight. And with the goal of getting past this point in time.

He remained the spokesperson for a few years and didn’t forget his training at WKHS. Sam was honored to come back to Kent County High to speak at commencement twice and has fond memories of the beginning of his career.

Theresa Humphrey, “ON THE AIR FROM KENT COUNTY HIGH: WKHS Entertains and also Teaches,” The Baltimore Sun, February 24, 1993, pg. 9B
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Sam Ringgold: I mean what a gem. I mean we literally were on the air – it wasn’t a high school radio station that you could just hear across the street. To this day, you can still hit pick it up in Baltimore. I mean, it’s a high school radio station. What a gem. I mean to this day when I tell people, you know, my career began at a high school radio station people still look at me like, “Seriously?” I’m like, yeah back then we had a high school radio station with, you know, state-of-the-art equipment, right? I remembered running around as much as I played football. I remembered running around on Fridays interviewing the coaches about game day and then going back and editing it and getting it on the air and all of that. I mean that was the beginning, right? I don’t know. I don’t know where I’d be. I don’t know what I’d be doing if it wasn’t for that high school radio station. I don’t know if I would have stumbled across this or not. I truly don’t which, which gets to I don’t know where I would be if it wasn’t, you know, for that high school radio station.

When I asked for concluding thoughts, Sam Ringgold thought about the value of opportunity and mentorship, and he shared how he has not forgotten his roots.  

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Sam Ringgold: My story is again, I benefited from opportunities being made available. I’d like to think when doors open, I took advantage of them and over the years, I’d like to think I’ve gotten pretty good at creating both my own opportunities, but also opportunities for others. It’s, you know, not to, you know, get all caught up in it, but there are days when, you know, my guidance and counsel is sought by people in very high places, very important people with lofty titles and they will call this little guy who’s – a lot of me is still that little guy from Chestertown, Maryland – for guidance and input. That’s big. This little guy who, you know, I don’t have a PhD or any of that stuff on the wall back there. Right? But they’re calling this little guy who grew up in Chestertown, Maryland, who mowed lawns with his grandfather, who worked at the corn factory and couldn’t eat corn for 4 years afterwards for guidance and advice and I don’t take it lightly.

Sam Moore and Milford Murray likewise reflected on their experience at WKHS and how it helped them realize their passion and love for broadcasting.

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Milford Murray: I guess we all have been blessed with this show. Sam has realized that things that he really loves are told in stories and music. I am the same way. Had it not been for Yvette, I don’t know. I guess I’d just be playing an album now and then, laying back, but where the where it is today with me, she inspires me to go out and listen to more music and whatever I’ve ever listened to. but along the same lines, it’s things that I love to do, but I hadn’t up until now, I hadn’t listened to that much music. I play a jam now and then, or listen to it on the radio, but for me personally, no, I never, I never did it them. I’m playing more music now and what the heck I’ve ever played. I guess it goes along with age, you know.

Sam Moore: You can play Black music in all genres.

Milford Murray: Yeah. Oh, yeah.

Sam Moore: Now, you know, it’s something for everyone.

Milford Murray: Everyone, right.

This project is ongoing and if you’d like to be interviewed, please send us an email at avtech@marmia.org or start recording your own oral history now with TheirStory.