The photo caption below has been updated to correct the identification of Pervis Spann’s daughter.
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters released a statement Monday honoring Pervis Spann, former WVON Radio president and co-founder of Midway Broadcasting Corporation, the station’s parent company.
Spann died following a lengthy battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. He was 89.
Spann’s broadcast career spanned more than 60 years, according to the NABOB. In 1963, he became the second disc jockey hired by Leonard Chess, who founded the WVON Radio station that same year.
Per the NABOB, Spann reigned as the most listened-to overnight disc jockey in Chicago for more than 10 years. Because of his love for Blues music, he became known throughout the broadcast industry as “The Blues Man.”
“Known globally as the person who crowned Aretha Franklin ‘The Queen of Soul’ and B.B. King ‘The King of Blues,’ Spann was also a successful concert promoter and radio station owner, acquiring stations in Jacksonville, FL; Atlanta, GA, and Memphis, TN,” the NABOB statement read. “However, it was at WVON Radio in Chicago, where he built his incomparable broadcast career.”
Jim Winston, NABOB President, said Spann was active in NABOB back when he first got involved with the organization.
“He also became one of the first clients of my law firm,” said Winston. “Pervis came to visit me at my law office once, and he told me he wanted to pay my bill. He then proceeded to pull this huge wad of one-hundred-dollar bills from his pocket. When I gasped, he laughed. He explained that, when he promoted concerts, he frequently walked around the concert with fifty thousand dollars in cash on him.”
Winston added, “Pervis was a great person. I never saw him without a smile on his face. On behalf of NABOB, and for me personally, I extend sincere condolences to NABOB Board Member Melody Spann-Cooper and the Spann family.”
Spann is survived by his wife of 67 years, Lovie, and four children, including radio executive, Melody Spann-Cooper.
Watch the video below to learn more about Pervis Spann’s career.