Broadcasting Soul!


“The only FOR REAL thing on TV!”
Broadcasting Soul! 1968-1969


Gayle Wald
Wed. April 15, 2015     12 – 1.30 pm at 228 Battelle-Tompkins

The title of this talk comes from a viewer description of the television program Soul!, the first national television program focused on cultural and political expressions of the Black Power era. Originating at WNDT/Channel 13, the NY metropolitan area’s main public broadcasting outlet, Soul! ran for five seasons between 1968 and 1973, offering a stage to musicians, activists, and artists of all kinds. In its first season alone, it hosted the writers Amiri Baraka and Nikki Giovanni; the filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles; the actors Diana Sands and Vinnette Carroll; and the musicians Sam and Dave, Melba Moore, and the Impressions.This talk focuses on Soul!‘s bold re-interpretation of public broadcasting’s educational mandate, as well as producer Ellis Haizlip’s notion of “meaningful” television, a paradigm that allowed for programming outside of the limiting and even debilitating notion of “positive images.”


Gayle Wald is a professor of English and American Studies at George Washington University, where she teaches courses on African American literature, popular music culture, and cultural history.  Her new book  It’s Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power TV   is forthcoming in March from Duke University Press.









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