by Manny Smith
(originally posted at the PABJ PRISM Web Magazine)
Most area drivers have sped down Philadelphia’s “Broadcast Row” on City Avenue, near Monument Road that is home to at least two television and radio stations. Very soon, Pennsylvania’s State Legislature will consider a bill to co-name the busy section of Route 1 between Presidential Boulevard and Monument Road as “Ed Bradley Way.”
The legendary broadcaster who is best known for his 26 years of award winning work on the CBS News Program “60 Minutes” was a Philadelphia native. He completed his degree at nearby Cheney University in 1964. During the school’s 2013 homecoming celebration “informal discussions regarding a permanent honor Bradley’s legacy” began according to LeRoy McCarthy, a 1992 Alumnus of the School. “Those discussions led to a full grassroots effort,” revealed McCarthy who began researching the late broadcasters’ background in the city.
McCarthy’s research pointed in the direction of City Avenue, the former home of WDAS-FM radio where Bradley began his broadcast career. “It was initially thought that the Bradley Memorial could be located here,” McCarthy explained, but it we discovered that the station had moved from this location in the early 2000’s following an acquisition by Clear Channel Communications. Efforts then turned to alternate locations, including Bradley’s former neighborhood of Mill Creek in West Philadelphia but that area was also found to have been substantially “reconfigured” over the years since Bradley lived there. Finally, the stretch of City Avenue near Monument Road was selected due to the concentration of broadcast outlasts in the area, including the WCAU building which was ironically the former longtime local CBS-owned station in Philadelphia before a format flip in 1995. The broadcast row “was a fitting location to honor Ed Bradley, a Philadelphian and a newsman.” said McCarthy.
With a location researched and selected, McCarthy penned and turned over a formal proposal to change the name of this particular stretch of City Avenue. Because City Avenue is a designated U.S. Highway owned by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, any name changes need legislative approval from the State.
This week, Ben Waxman, Press Secretary for PA State Senator Vincent Hughes confirmed to PABJ PRISM that their office “has formally released documents indicating that we will be bringing a bill requesting the name change” before the Senate. There is a long legislative process ahead with no exact timeline on when the name change would occur given that both the PA House and Senate would need to approve the future bill before final action could be taken to officially change the road’s name.
However, the change could occur sooner rather than later with both McCarthy and Waxman indicating that the proposed bull has been “well received” by lawmakers and prominent friends of the late newsman, including the office of Wynton Marsalis. “Statements of public support are very helpful” in showing support for the bill said Waxman, who encouraged the public to contact Senator Hughes’ office online at www.senatorhughes.com or on Twitter @senatorhughes to share messages of support for the name change.
“I think this is a fantastic idea” said Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists (PABJ)’ President Johann Calhoun, who said he fully supported the name change proposal. “Ed Bradley was not only a first-class journalist, but a Philadelphian who loved this region. It would be fitting to have his legacy honored in this prime location.” Additional information regarding plans to PABJ to provide additional public support for the name-change legislation is expected in the coming weeks.