WBOX: Civil rights strife and KKK boycott

WBOX is a radio station broadcasting on 920 AM in Bogalusa, Louisiana. The station is owned by Best Country Broadcasting, LLC, and carries a country format. In 1965, the station was boycotted by the Ku Klux Klan during a turbulent civil rights struggle in Bogalusa, earning the station and its manager national attention but driving its ownership out of town. … In October 1964, WBOX owner Ralph Blumberg joined a group of community leaders seeking to maintain racial tranquility. He also sponsored an address that was to be given by Brooks Hays to a racially mixed audience. The Ku Klux Klan, which had a prominent role in town, did not respond kindly, intimidating organizers and forcing the address to be canceled. On March 18, 1965, six bullet holes were found in WBOX’s transmitter building, which was located in a vacant field four miles northeast of town. That same day, Blumberg began broadcasting editorials claiming that the KKK was threatening an economic boycott of WBOX’s advertisers. Threats were also made against Blumberg and his family, while he received harassing telephone calls ‘all night long’. Two nights later, at a meeting of Klansmen at the Hotel Bentley in Alexandria, one speaker confirmed that the Klan was involved for ‘putting that station out of business’, referring to WBOX. As a result, the ranks of WBOX’s advertisers dwindled from 75 to just six. In order to keep the station on the air despite losing more than 90 percent of its advertisers to the KKK boycott, broadcasters elsewhere in the United States stepped up. New York public relations consultant Mortimer Matz bought 100 commercials, each consisting of a reading of the preamble of the Constitution of the United States, to be aired on WBOX. The Greater New York Broadcasters Committee, with the support of the Louisiana Association of Broadcasters, also began raising funds to keep the station afloat. Blumberg attempted to appease the KKK by canceling his editorials, but the intimidation continued. The boycott had the effect of driving Blumberg out of town. He moved his family to St. Louis twice, with the second time being on the advice of an FBI agent. Late in 1965, he moved to New York City and became a reporter at WCBS-TV. Blumberg testified in January 1966 before the House Un-American Activities Committee; he was awarded the 1965 Paul White Award by the Radio-Television News Directors Association and the Lee De Forest Award by the National Association for Better Radio and Television for his actions. …”
SPLC – Ku Klux Klan: A History of Racism
Confronting the Klan in Bogalusa With Nonviolence & Self-Defense
amazon: Fighting the Devil in Dixie: How Civil Rights Activists Took on the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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