soulbeat's format has attracted new african-american net users through its interactive talk show formats via telephone and e- mail, with topics which include entertainment, music videos, sports, health, religion, legal issues, worldwide news reports and a host of other topics. in addition to tv programming available on cable in oakland california, and video streaming world wide on the internet, soulbeat publishes a monthly entertainment news magazine.
chuck johnson 1938 - 2004
by kirk tanter
chuck johnson, the pioneering broadcaster who owned soul beat television network based in oakland california since 1978, died of cancer tuesday july 27 at age 65.
soulbeat television was the very first music video network in the country, and broke all of the major oaktown artists to include digital underground, mc
hammer, and too short before they went mainstream. during soulbeat's heyday in the 80's through the mid-90's the soulbeat television network was on kemo channel 20 in oakland, eight cable outlets in greater oakland, wgpr-tv in detroit, cable outlets in new york, los angeles, san diego, san jose, santa rosa, and st. kitts island in the caribbean. chuck johnson became an institution for the oakland community and through soul beat television network, johnson provided many forums and opportunities. johnson's 24-hour television network offered a range of programming primarily entertainment with the top music videos, celebrity interviews, live call-in talk shows, news, infomercials, and religious shows. the soulbeat televison network website is: 18.104.22.168 which is currently set up for web-casting.
although major black cable television networks such as: viacom's black
entertainment television, maryland-based tv one, and major broadcasting co. of atlanta are funded by banks and investors loans, chuck johnson's soulbeat television remained totally black owned and operated. chuck johnson was always proud to say that the soul beat television network remained "100 percent black-owned" from its very inception in 1978. chuck johnson was soulbeat's sole owner. soulbeat television will continue and remain black-owned as his son charles johnson, chuck's ex-wife patricia, and legendary broadcaster and engineer johnny morris will continue the operation. soulbeat television is a staple in greater oakland, california and the oakland community fully-supported soulbeat television, even in times of trouble. for example in 1997, the irs briefly shut down soul beat -- citing unpaid taxes of $37,000 -- however soulbeat's viewers responded by donating $40,000 in one week through a special telethon from the foothill studio location. chuck johnson nicknamed the studio site of the telethon "the bunkers", because the station was "fighting" for survival. this successful grass roots effort illustrates the significance that soulbeat tv had on its greater oakland viewers. many, many, many, black-owned businesses in greater oakland that advertised on soulbeat television, their very survival was inextricably linked to the soulbeat television broadcast.their businesses could only afford television advertising through soulbeat, as they could ill-afford to advertise on the conventional and expensive bay area television stations, radio stations, and even newspapers.
chuck johnson remained fiercely independent, even through the aforementioned tough times. when businessmen offered a large check to pay the irs, in return for part ownership, chuck johnson literally ripped up the offers. he knew by accepting their offers, he would lose control of soulbeat as a true black-owned and operated television entity. instead of accepting the businessmen's offers, chuck johnson relied on what he called: "the soul beat family members", to deliver the irs funds and he was right. the soulbeat family members" included soulbeat's viewers, advertisers and on-air volunteers, whom stormed by in that week's time in 1997 with cash for his "appreciation fund", and the soulbeat television network promptly continued. even the very young teenage viewers, whom had enjoyed the music videos, came with mason jars filled with pennies. elders came with their donations and also food for those volunteering. the telethon was an overwhelming success.
chuck johnson's commitment to his viewers and advertisers can best be summed up by this: once during a power failure at his eastmont mall studio location, johnson rigged the station's wiring and ran a line to the battery of his car to keep the power on so the soulbeat television network would continue.
"people may laugh now," chuck johnson would say, "but they'll would truly miss us if we were gone."
chuck johnson was born in tulsa, okla., grew up in kansas city, mo. in 1959, he got into radio as a fill-in disc jockey when the morning talent got into an
auto accident. chuck johnson became the "first black disc jockey on a top 40 radio station". he then joined the air force.
in 1962, he became the first black general manager of a radio station in
california at ktym 103.9fm -- which later became kace in los angeles owned by former green bay packer all-pro football player willie davis. two years later in 1964, chuck johnson moved to san diego, where he was the first black owner of an fm radio station in california, and was president of san diego's naacp branch. in 1968, he was the first african-american to be hired in the young cable television industry. in the early 70's, chuck johnson was the first lma/general manager of kjlh leased to johnson from kjlh's then-owner john lamar hill (kjlh is now owned by stevie wonder). during the mid-1970s, when hollywood was producing more black movies, johnson worked for paramount studios in distribution and marketing.
during the mid-70's, chuck johnson had the vision to see that television was
where music was going. in 1977, chuck johnson moved to oakland, and within a year in 1978 the soulbeat television network was born. chuck was the first black owner of a cable television network and first african-american to play music videos in the country. longtime soulbeat chief engineer johnny morris states, "chuck use to just take the hit songs from a concert telecast and play them on soulbeat. chuck soon convinced solar records in los angeles to produce videos for their acts (lakeside, the whispers, the deele, switch, shalamar, midnight starr) to air on soulbeat tv." this all happened during the late seventies before bet or mtv.
chuck johnson's creditability, viability, and popularity in oakland, grew to
the point where he ran a respectable campaign for mayor of oakland in 1985.
chuck is survived by his son, charles e. johnson jr. brothers, leroy d. johnson, lawrence s. johnson, william j. mcdaniel, 5 sister's, patricia a. webb, jeanette c. richardson, sandra m. jones, rhonda f. mcdaniel, paula l. murdock, his ex-wife patricia lang, two grandchildren, and a host of nieces and nephews.