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 home >> Civil Rights History Project >> Survey of Collections and Repositories >> Collections >> Collection Record

The Civil Rights History Project: Survey of Collections and Repositories

Hayes, Bernard (1935- ), papers

Repository: State Historical Society of Missouri, St. Louis

Collection Description (CRHP): The collection includes an oral history interview conducted by Kenn Thomas and Doris Allen, December 1989.

Collection Description (Extant): Bernie Hayes began his radio career in the Air Force in 1950 as an announcer for the Armed Forces Radio Service. After his military service, Hayes returned to the University of Illinois and graduated with a degree in journalism. In 1956 he began work as the black on-air personality and first black news announcer for a radio station in Alexandria, Louisiana. Hayes went on to other broadcasting jobs in New York and New Jersey in 1961 and in Chicago throughout 1962 and 1963. In Chicago, Hayes worked for WMMP, the first black-owned radio station in the midwest; WSBC and WGES, narrowcast stations that programmed for ethnic areas within the city; and WVON ("Voice of the Negro"), a radio station owned by the Chess brothers, whose record label featured such blues and rock artists as Muddy Waters and Chuck Berry. Hayes moved to San Francisco in 1964 and joined the staff of KSOL, a soul music station. Hayes also worked as a producer and recording artist for Volt, a subsidiary of the soul music label, Stax Records.

Hayes arrived in St. Louis in April 1965, working first for KXLW and then as an announcer for KATZ, a black music station. His career in St. Louis radio took several controversial turns. In May 1972, Hayes and seven other black disc jockeys walked off the job at KWK Radio, forcing a halt to the station's broadcasts. The disc jockeys had organized to protest Hayes' demotion to advertising salesman and other personnel changes made by a new, all-white management team from Tennessee. The Congress on Racial Equality supported this action with pickets. Replaced in March 1977 as the program director at black-oriented KKSS-FM by Scott St. James, a white male, Hayes filed a EOCC class action suit against the station charging hiring discrimination. Listeners also organized a petition drive and advertiser boycott against the station. The Missouri Commission on Human Rights decided in favor of Hayes. Finally, in September 1983 the management of KATZ Radio cancelled the discussion part of Hayes' Sunday morning program, a noted forum for local black politics. After many listener complaints and a meeting with local black aldermen, the program was re-instated.

Bernie Hayes became the news director at KWMU radio in March 1987, while working as community affairs director for station KIRL. In 1989 Hayes began an independent record label, Mission Park, which released a 45 RPM single, "In My Eyes," sung by his wife, Uvee, and produced by a renown local rhythm and blues artist, Oliver Sain. Hayes has received many awards from civic groups for his contributions to improving the quality and diversity of radio programming for the black community in St. Louis.

The Bernard Hayes papers primarily document Bernie Hayes' career as a radio broadcaster from 1961-1988, although four photographs date from the 1950s. The collection includes photocopies of scrapbooks containing publicity literature and photographs reflecting Hayes' radio work in Chicago, Louisiana, New York and San Francisco from the early to mid-1960s. The papers also contain memoranda and newsclippings pertaining to Hayes' involvement in lawsuits and pickets against KWK in 1972 (f. 5,6,7) and KKSS in 1977 (f. 3, 7, 9.) One scrapbook includes copy photographs of Bernie Hayes from childhood (f. 12), in high school in 1952 (f.10), and in the Armed Forces (f. 12.) Other photographs include images of local radio personalities, civic leaders, rhythm and blues and soul musicians, and record company personnel. Some copy photographs taken from Instamatic prints appear unclear. The collection also contains an oral history with Bernie Hayes and a cassette tape of records he produced or recorded, 1966-1989.

Date(s): 1961-1989

Digital Status: Partial

Existing IDs: sl 480; T1041

Extent: 16 folders 2 audiotapes

Finding Aid URL: External Link

Language: English

Related Archival Items: Some photos may be viewed online at

Interviewees: Bernard Hayes

Rights (CRHP): Contact the repository which holds the collection for information on rights


African American entertainers
African American journalists
Civil rights movements--Missouri
Civil rights movements--Press coverage
Congress of Racial Equality
Discrimination in employment
Radio journalism


Sound recordings


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   May 15, 2015
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