WHUR 96.3's Jim Watkins Named 'Man of the Year'
1/6/2012, 12:01 p.m.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Sidney Miller, founder and chairman of
the 36-year industry trade magazine Black Radio Exclusive, presented Millard
"Jim" Watkins, general manager of the Howard University Radio Network, with
its annual Man of the Year Drummer Award. The presentation took place last month during the "WHUR: 40 Years of Soaring the Airwaves" gala at the Gaylord National Hotel.
Invited guests celebrating the station's continued impact on the community, and now, the world were entertained by actor Bill Duke, song stylist Will Downing as well as singer Lalah Hathaway, daughter of one of Howard University's legendary graduates Donny Hathaway.
Starting with the station, which was presented as a gift to Howard University by
Catherine Graham of the Washington Post in 1971, Jim Watkins at age 19
became WHUR's first chief engineer.
With 25 of those years as the general manager, Watkins has surpassed all previous GMs in longevity. Among the six GMs in the station's 40-year history, many who gathered at the gala, were Phil Watson, the first GM charged with charting the original path for the university-owned commercial FM station, John Paul Simpkins, Tom Jones and Robert Taylor.
Also among the station's initial GMs was Cathy Liggins Hughes who would go on to found the Radio One media empire now headed by her and her son Alfred Liggins that encompasses more than 50 radio stations nationwide, television, syndication, Internet and social media. Hughes joined in honoring WHUR in BRE, saying, "I cut my professional teeth there."
It was under Hughes' watch that some of the station's signature programming
developed like the world renowned "Quiet Storm." And, under Robert Taylor the
"Daily Drum" with Kojo Nnamdi, became the most listened to news program in
the Washington area. But it has been under the quarter century direction of the
station's former chief engineer Jim Watkins that the station has soared to global
heights as the award-winning Howard University Radio Network.
The most recent incarnation of Watkins' direction of the HU Radio Network was
the December 1 launch of H.U.R. Voices on Channel 141, one of the two
channels it recently received from SiriusXM. Calling it "basically the best of what
we do on WHUR and WHUR World...with something from WHBC..." Watkins
says H.U.R. Voices will embody the mission of Howard University--to serve
"America and the Global Community." The other channel, planned for a May
launch, will feature programming created and produced by HBCUs across the
The SiriusXM channels are just the latest additions to the ever-growing HU Radio
Network that now includes, in addition to its flagship WHUR 96.3, the station's
first digital station WHUR-World (HD2), its student station WHBC and its Internet
Talk station Glasshouse Radio.
WHUT-TV, the first public broadcasting station
licensed to a predominantly African-American institution that Watkins was
charged by Howard University President Dr. Cheek to build is also part of the
developing HU media empire, now under the direction of newly appointed GM
Jefferi K. Lee. But "the best is yet to come," predicts Watkins, who says, "We are
moving forward in what we want to do in terms of content that can be used in an
enriching and uplifting way by our people."
Watkins' latest vision, however, is more bricks and mortar-oriented. "I really want
to see us build a new facility complete with a live performance venue that will
enable us to use technology to create and broadcast more culturally relevant
programming for our audiences."
Explains BRE founder Sidney Miller about the special BRE issue
commemorating WHUR's 40th anniversary, "While we committed this special
issue to chronicling the inspiring - and groundbreaking - history of this mighty
communications giant in the Nation's Capitol, I would be remiss if I did not honor
the significance of "The Dreamer" in this master plan."
The Dreamer, Millard "Jim" Watkins, was selected BRE's 2011 Man of the Year.