Bernice Thompson: First Black Female Disc Jockey in Philadelphia

Written by Jae Jones

Pioneer disc jockey Bernice Thompson led the way for many African-American women on the radio and television. Thompson became the first black female disc jockey in Philadelphia. She began her career at WDAS in 1952 and worked at the station for twelve years. Although her weekday show was “Morning Time,” she could be heard on the Mitch Thomas Show and The Bernice Thompson Show.

Before the start of Thompson’s career, she reportedly used to sit at the kitchen table, read cereal boxes and labels of canned goods, and fantasized about being a DJ. After getting up enough nerve to go to WDAS, where she knew the announcer, Randy Dixon, she was introduced to the manager. Thompson managed to secure a spot on a one-hour Sunday show to play spirituals, and was also given the responsibility of overseeing the women’s programs on the show.

For two years, she was the hostess on “The Mitch Thomas Show” on Channel 12 from Wilmington, a Saturday dance program for black teens who were banned from Channel 6’s “Bandstand” during that period.

Thompson went on to host the  “The Bernice Thompson Show” on Channel 3 in the early 1960s. It was a half-hour live telecast with guest artists and interviews. Years later, she worked as a public relations representative for Food Fair stores and produced a daily radio show for housewives. Thompson gave up the radio and television scene in 1965, and worked as a grooming and hygiene instructor for Opportunities Industrial Center. She died in 1996 at the age of 75.

bernice thompson


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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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