Since its inception, One Detroit has shared stories that bring value and context to our audience’s daily lives. The One Detroit team now re-shares some of these impactful stories in a series of “Best Of” episodes. Tonight, One Detroit presents”Best Of: Detroit History Pt. 2,” featuring the Black Bottom neighborhood, architect Albert Kahn, radio host Robin Seymour, the infamous WRIF D.R.E.A.D. card.
This Week on One Detroit:
Detroit’s former Black Bottom neighborhood, a booming center for a predominately African American community, has finally received long-awaited recognition for its history in Detroit’s story. The thriving former neighborhood, which developers demolished in the 1950s-60s to make way for Interstate 375 and the Lafeyette Park district, now sits as the site of a Michigan historical marker that tells the true story, both good and bad, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said, of the historic site.
Producer AJ Walker takes viewers to the unveiling of the historical marker to hear from Detroit historian Jamon Jordan, with Black Scroll Network, the City of Detroit’s Director of Arts, Culture & Entrepreneurship Rochelle Riley, Michigan Historical Commission member Robin Terry and Mayor Duggan about the legacy of the Black Bottom neighborhood and the importance of its role in the city’s history. Plus, Walker talks with two local Detroiters whose family ancestors grew up and lived in the area.
More than 125 years later, the late architect Albert Kahn’s architecture firm is still standing strong in Detroit. As part of Detroit Public Television’s documentary “Detroit Designs the World,” we transport back to Detroit before it became the auto capital of the world to look at the radical design decisions architect Albert Kahn (1869-1942) took when crafting some of Detroit’s most famous buildings.
Whether it was the Highland Park Ford plant in 1910 or the Fisher Building in 1928, Kahn revolutionized the architecture industry with his large, sweeping designs with lots of open space and his use of ornate artistry like sculptures and bronze work. Detroit Experience Factory Founder and Executive Director Jeanette Pierce, Michigan Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Director Gregory Wittkopp, and President and CEO of Albert Kahn Associates, Inc. Alan Cobb discuss the lasting legacy Kahn left in the motor city.
To many, he was known as the disc jockey that launched 1,000 hits and a pioneer of Detroit’s rock ‘n roll radio. If you grew up listening to Detroit radio, chances are you know the late legendary DJ Robin Seymour. Seymour, who passed away in April 2020, was known for his energetic, youthful voice and his uncanny ability to connect with his radio audience.
One Detroit caught up with Music Writer Susan Whitall, SiriusXM Radio’s Pat St. John, Entertainment Writer Jim McFarlin, and Seymour’s daughter, Deborah Young, to reminisce on the strong presence and legacy Seymour left behind for Detroit’s radio industry, as well as his commitment to diversifying the racial makeup of artists being played on Detroit’s airwaves. Whether Robin Seymour was playing Little Richard or another up-and-coming rock artist, he was revolutionizing the sounds of Detroit.
We all have them— loyalty cards stuffed in our wallets or key tags hanging from our keychains, but WRIF Radio’s D.R.E.A.D. card may have just been the first loyalty program made specifically for rock ‘n roll music lovers. Known for its long history of zany, innovative radio personalities and unique marketing promotions, WRIF’s D.R.E.A.D. was the icing on the radio station’s promotional cake, circulating hundreds of thousands of cards across Detroit.
One Detroit senior producer Bill Kubota and “Detroit Remember When: Made in the Motor City” host Erik Smith sit down with several former members of WRIF Radio to hear more about the radio station’s rise to popularity in the late 1970s and 1980s and examine how it became one of the most well-known Detroit rock radio stations still to this day.
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Watch One Detroit every Monday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m. ET on Detroit Public TV on Detroit Public TV, WTVS-Channel 56.