Under Noble Virgil Blackwell's tutelage Oprah became a newscaster, Ms. Fire Prevention, and host of a Saturday morning teen program.
FORT WASHINGTON, MD, September 26, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Marquis Who's Who, the world's premier publisher of Biographical Profiles, is proud to present Noble Virgil Blackwell with the Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award. As an accomplished listee, Noble "B", Noble "Be Good To Your Neighbor", Noble" Yesssss, Yes, Yes, Yes, Yes," was a broadcast pioneer who influenced broadcast media and never received recognition for the transformative contributions he made to the entertainment industry. Noble Blackwell's listed achievements, leadership qualities and successes are in line with the criteria of all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes. Individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Born in Nashville, TN, to James and Susie Lee Blackwell, Noble began his radio career reading announcements over the high school PA system. His distinguished voice landed him a part time DJ job at WSOK, a local radio station (now known as WVOL black urban radio) and part of the renown Rounsaville Media Group. The relationship with this media group would be the catalyst for a career path in radio that was unconscionable for a young African American man before civil rights. He was sent to WEFC in Miami where his DJ personality, and prominence as "The Honey Bee," was born. He then became the Program Director at WIOK in Tampa before being asked to return to WVOL to help community relations and was quickly promoted to Account Executive and then Sales Manager.
From 1966-1968 Noble was the National Director of Alumni Affairs for Meharry Medical College traveling all over the country setting up Alumni chapters and developing innovative programs in support of the sixty-six million dollar expansion program reporting directly to the President of the College. The assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked the '68 riots and the black community threatened to burn down the white owned and operated radio station. The President of Rounsaville called Noble, the voice of calm and respected leader in the community to take over the station as the Vice President and General Manager. A very bold move that catapulted WVOL to the forefront. His community outreach included auditions for internships for high school students which started the career of teen "Oprah Winfrey." It was something about her voice," Noble said. Under his tutelage Oprah became a newscaster, Ms. Fire Prevention, and host of a Saturday morning teen program.
While still at WVOL, Noble recognized the need to promote local artists. He started NB Productions and produced his signature project and accomplishment, "Night Train"(a joint venture with WLAC-TV, a CBS affiliate). Noble was the writer, producer and host of "Night Train," the first African American program to be syndicated by Viacom in 30 countries. The early production of Night Train included young people dancing, but the church community came out against the show, which gave birth to the "Night Train Revue." He would tell his wife, "Baby, the kids just want to dance." So on the weekends, Noble produced and traveled with a crew to shoot the roadshow which sparked the careers of many notable musicians including Jimi Hendrix, who was in the House Band. In 2005 his contributions to The Music City (Nashville) were featured in the "Night Train to Nashville" an exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and later included in the Tennessee Radio Hall of Fame.
In 1972 the son of Nashville made a giant step to venture into broadcast TV as the Director of Broadcasting at CBS affiliate WCAU-TV (channel 10) in Philadelphia. He continued to climb the corporate ladder moving to New York to become the Division Director of Community Relations responsible for overall performance regarding FCC license, public affairs, news and children's programming for all five CBS owned stations. As Director of Corporate Staff Services Noble was the acting liaison officer for CBS with various community and public service organizations.
After seven years (from 1972-1979) with CBS in the television Industry Noble's first love, "radio," came calling. He was named Vice President and General Manager of WNJR Radio in Newark, NJ, which put him back in the community providing opportunities for creative youth involvement. It was his decision to play the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" on radio and produced the first rap concert at Paradisio Night Club, which ushered in the new genre we now call hip hop. He soon revived NB Productions and became one of the premier promoters in the nation. He was credited with promoting the first major rap tour; The Def Jam Tour headlined by LL Cool J, other notable tours included: Kool & The Gang's "She's Fresh" tour for Coca-Cola, the Cameo "Word Up" Tour and The Force MD's "Love is a House" tour, to name a few.
In his later years Noble accomplished his life's dream when he purchased a AM/FM combo station in northeastern Pennsylvania. WLSP FM and WCDL AM became the first radio stations owned by an African American with a nontraditional format. WLSP was 24 hour contemporary country, which at the time was a new format and WCDL AM was contemporary hit radio (CHR). He never knew one day he would be featured in the Country Music Hall of Fame for his contributions.
When Noble retired he continued to stay relevant in the industry offering consulting services. From 1988 to 1990 he worked with the National Black Network to persuade major advertisers to include advertising in urban black radio markets. In the twilight of his life Noble Blackwell was ordained a Deacon in the Baptist Ministry and the overseer of StrategicMinistries Group, a multi-faceted young adult ministry serving New York/New Jersey. Noble applied his immense knowledge attained through years in the broadcast industry to introduce a ground breaking gospel video series, Urban Contemporary Gospel, a 30-minute show syndicated by New York-based JME Entertainment.
Noble has been recognized on a national level by the National Association of TV & Radio Announcers as Man of the Year in 1972 and Citation of Meritorious Achievement for Management in 1968. He received a Citation from the New York chapter of the Public Relations Society of America Inc. as head of the committee on minorities in 1977. He also received a Certificate of Merit from United Way of Tri-State Inc. that same year. Noble Blackwell has been recognized by the Delaware Valley Chapter of Broadcast Pioneers as a Pioneer in 1976 and earned an Award in Recognition of Service from WCAU-TV Philadelphia in 1975. In his hometown of Nashville, Noble Blackwell was awarded the Certificate of Appreciation from Donelson Hermitage Jaycees in 1969, the Tennessee State Sports Media Award from 1971 to 1972, and the Certificate of Merit from the Military Department, State of Tennessee. Furthermore, he was elected to the board of directors of the Better Business Bureau from 1971 to 1972, was vice chair of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce in 1971, and was a member of the Nashville Broadcasting Pioneers from 1970 to 1972 and the Nashville Advertising Federation in 1972. Noble Blackwell attributes his success to his faith in God, his deep understanding of his purpose, and absolute determination.
The following poem, "Recollections about a Great Weaver," was written by Dianne Oyama Dixon in memory of Mr. Blackwell:
"It was as early as yesterday and as far away as years ago, that Noble V. Blackwell began pulling together the threads of our lives. To him there were no ugly fabrics or unkind colors. For Noble saw you with his heart... he saw what was deep inside.
He was a simple man, a loving man, a caring man, a giving man, a Christian man, that saw every life that touched his as having great value and worth. And he treated each as a precious treasure.
Sometimes his lessons to us brought tears to his eyes, tears of joy. They had to be, because the tears flowed he would speak of how thankful he was for the many blessings he had received during his life. And yet, we were the receivers of the blessings just to know him.
He spoke about developing our minds, uplifting our spirits, setting goals, taking chances, individuality, self-respect, dignity, faith in God and one's self, and of course having dreams. He walked a walk that blazed trails, that set trends, that opened doors through whom he carried many people.
He was a weaver that set in motion fabrics that he connected to create a tapestry of love, color, hope and strength.
As gentle as a breeze that touches us and moves on Noble was claimed to God's kingdom. Until that time we shall meet again let us exemplify his living by loving one another. "Be Good to Your Neighbor" (The Honeybee)
Noble Blackwell passed away on September 10, 1994. His legacy lives on through his wife, children, relatives and friends who have embraced his entrepreneurial spirit finding success in radio, business, sports and entertainment, and ministry. In memory of his spirit and his work, his family is working on a documentary that will chronicle his life. Those with any photos, stories or memories are invited to share them with the family at Noble Blackwell on Facebook.
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