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Women in STEM - Dorothy Brunson

Oprah Winfrey got her start in radio telecommunications, which is the science and technology of communication at a distance through the electronic transmission of signals.

That likely wouldn’t have been possible if not for Dorothy Brunson.

Dorothy Brunson at a desk with a banner that says WEBB Radio makes Baltimore sound good

Dorothy was the very first African American woman to ever own a radio station.

In the late 1970s, Dorothy worked as a secretary at a radio station in New York. She worked her way up to programming and pioneered the “Urban Contemporary” format for radio, which we now know as Hip Hop/R&B/Soul.

Then, in 1979, Dorothy had the opportunity to purchase WEBB in Baltimore from the legendary performer, James Brown. She brought the station to a whole new level of success by changing over to a 24-hour format, which was very rare at the time. She would go on to purchase stations in Atlanta and Wilmington, NC as well.

Dorothy sold all of her radio stations in 1990 and became the first African American woman to own and run a television station when she established WGTW-TV in a suburb of Philadelphia.

Always driven, determined, and willing to take risks, Dorothy never stopped growing as a professional and loved to learn. According to her son Ed in an interview after Dorothy passed away in 2011, “My mom never wasted time. Even when she was watching football, which she loved, she’d be reading a book on physics.”

For more information about Dorothy and her contributions to the world of radio, television, and telecommunications broadcasting, check out her Wikipedia page.

And you can also watch this overview from the Dorothy Brunson Foundation YouTube channel.

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