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Who was the first African American to have network tv show and a network radio show?

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February 08, 2013 9:18PM

These are two separate questions, since radio was around much earlier than television was. Back in the mid-to-late 1920s, a number of black performers (some from blues, others from jazz and big band dance music) could be heard on local stations in major cities like Boston, New York, and Los Angeles. But one of the earliest to be heard on a network was the Cotton Club Orchestra, which was broadcast by the NBC Radio Network in 1930, and another was jazz bandleader Noble Sissle, who had his own program on the CBS network in 1931.

As for television, most sources say that jazz and pop vocalist Nat "King" Cole was the first to host his own program, a variety show on NBC than debuted in November 1956. Critics spoke well of it, but sponsors were reticent to support a black host, and the program only lasted for a year.