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<This is a work in progress. Please highlight in red any changes I need to make to conform to standards. ThanksMridea (talk) 21:53, 5 January 2009 (UTC)>

Dr. Shelley Stewart[edit]

Dr. Shelley Stewart (born September 24, 1934) is a legendary figure in the radio industry whose personality and charisma captivated audiences for more than 50 years across the airwaves of the South. He also became the first African American to be inducted into the Alabama Broadcasters Association Hall of Fame. [1] Although he rose to prominence because of his on-air personality, Shelley the Playboy, Stewart is also a civil rights activist, author and entrepreneur. He currently serves as President and CEO of o2ideas in Birmingham, Alabama.

Humble Beginnings[edit]

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Stewart’s childhood in the Rosedale community proved to be a story of great tragedy and hardship. A month before his sixth birthday, Stewart witnessed the murder of his mother at the hands of his father. After a year of living on the porch of his father’s home and suffering severe abuse from his extended family, Stewart became a child runaway. Dr. Stewart’s enthusiasm for education came from the mentoring of his first grade teacher, Mrs. Mamie Foster. Her encouragement gave him an appreciation for reading and the desire to be anything he wanted to be. Reading was a great solace for him – often giving an exit from the pressures of what seemed to be a dark beginning.[2] Regular school attendance proved difficult for Dr. Stewart. While having the passion to excel in school, his family and classmates proved to be anything but supportive; going to school was considered a waste of time. Because of this, most of his young life was spent balancing between working sometimes three jobs and academics. In May 1952, Dr. Stewart received his high school diploma from Rosedale School. Shortly after graduation, he journeyed to New York City where he attended the Cambridge School of Broadcasting, learning the ins and outs of the broadcasting industry and the art of writing radio advertising copy. Following this time of self discovery in Harlem and New York, Shelley spent the next 2 years in the United States Air Force.

Early Career Achievments[edit]

While attending high school, Stewart began cultivating a love of the performing arts. His talents soon placed him in a job with the city’s first black-programmed radio station, WBCO. Shortly afterwards, he volunteered at WEDR – another popular Birmingham radio station in the African-American community. He was only 14 years old. Dr. Stewart later returned to WEDR in 1954 with aspirations of eventually owning a radio station. His radio persona, Shelley The Playboy, captivated the ears of area-wide teens, transcending the bitterly segregated society of the Deep South. His charisma and master of the microphone presented him opportunities in across the Southeast with stops in Shreveport, Louisiana; Jackson, Mississippi; St Louis, Missouri, Atlanta, Georgia and Columbus, Georgia. Eventually, though, he returned to his hometown where he would stay on the air for another 40 years. Though Dr. Stewart never officially deemed himself a civil rights activist, his passion for fairness overrode what was politically correct for on-air programming. His love of entertaining soon developed into grassroots efforts for social change. Dr. Stewart often urged African-Americans to sit in the front of buses (following the 1955 heroism of the late Rosa Parks) and take voting tests qualifying them for voter participation. Nearing his 40th year in the broadcasting industry, Dr. Stewart received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Miles College for his pursuit of national social change and ingenuity in the broadcasting industry.

The Children's Crusade of 1963[edit]

In 1963, there was a desperately growing need to integrate public schools and local department stores. Birmingham had long been a center of public mistreatment and humiliation for African-Americans. Dr. Stewart joined forces with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his committee to stage one of the most radical protests of the Civil Rights Movement.[3] Youth had long been angry and were often the majority presence in protests. This protest was for them. On May 2, 1963, hundreds of children flooded the streets of Birmingham – going in local department stores and restaurants – picketing inside and outside local businesses for equal rights. Rage filled the air as the water hoses and dogs were unleashed by the Birmingham Police Department. Paddy wagons and S.W.A.T. cars were filled with youth who knew their efforts had not been in vain.

Philanthropic Efforts[edit]

Stewart’s passion for education manifested itself in The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation, a non-profit organization designed to enable corporate and individual philanthropic giving to fund initiatives that help reduce the dropout rate. [4] The foundation, which is named for Dr. Stewart’s mother, partners with schools, businesses and community organizations to keep children in schools, thereby reaping the benefits of a quality education. The Mattie C. Stewart Foundation also houses a career mentorship program, BEWHOYOUWANNA BE for Birmingham inner-city youth. The program pairs professionals from similar backgrounds to mentor youth (ages 7-13) in career planning.


In 1967, Stewart helped local Birmingham businessman, Cy Steiner, setup an advertising agency mostly with clients that advertised on Stewart’s program. In 1974, the agency became officially known as Steiner Bressler. Stewart, although part owner of the agency, remained a silent partner due to fear of reprisal from the still simmering sentiment of segregation. In 2002, Stewart emerged as CEO of the agency, and in 2008, he acquired full ownership of the company he helped found 40 years previous. Today, Dr. Stewart serves as President & CEO of the company, o2 ideas, Inc., based in Birmingham, Alabama. [5]Stewart is also co-author of his autobiography, The Road South, published in 2006. [6]


  1. ^ Shelley Stewart Inducted...
  2. ^ Author Shelley Stewart's Long, Hard Road Sharon Gee, Birmingham Business Journal, August 9, 2002
  3. ^
  4. ^ Financial World, Vol.3 Issue 8, December 2007
  5. ^ Stewart Achieves Full Ownership
  6. ^ The Road South, Shelley Stewart and Nathan Hale Turner, Jr., 2002 Southern Poverty Law Center