Almost 50 years after the NAACP first condemned the television show “Amos ‘n’Andy,” civil rights activists protested outside a Los Angeles radio station Thursday for merely considering the prospect of broadcasting the original radio program.
Representatives from Project Islamic H.O.P.E. and the Progressive Jewish Alliance held a sparsely attended news conference at KNX-AM (1070) in Hollywood--spurred, they said, by reports from station employees the CBS-owned news station was going to add “Amos ‘n’ Andy” to its nostalgic lineup of radio programming in January.
KNX, which runs radio fare ranging from “Gunsmoke” and “The Lone Ranger” to Jack Benny among its “drama hour” offerings, stressed it had no plans to schedule the show, having only given thought to playing “Amos ‘n’ Andy” after it finished second (behind Benny’s show) on a Web site poll of programs listeners would like to hear.
“It was considered, and the decision was made by our program director to go in a different direction,” said Ed Pyle, executive producer of KNX’s news operation. “They’ve been told we’re not doing that which they are protesting.”
Still, Project Islamic H.O.P.E. Executive Director Najee Ali said the station had not responded to his calls and that he was “offended they would even discuss airing ‘Amos ‘n’ Andy.’ ” Ali said he was pleased the program wouldn’t air and would seek a meeting with station officials to sensitize them to his group’s concerns.
KNX is revising its “drama hour” beginning Jan. 6--a popular franchise heard at 9 nightly and repeating at 2 a.m. Several programs will shift to different nights along with the addition of “Sgt. Preston of the Yukon,” “The Adventures of Sam Spade” and the comic “Fibber McGee and Molly,” which replaces “Burns & Allen” after Benny’s show on Saturday nights.
Two white entertainers, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, created the “Amos ‘n’ Andy” radio show for NBC in 1929, performing all the male voices. The program centered on Amos Jones, a Harlem cabdriver, his friend Andy Brown and a cast that included their lodge brothers the Kingfish, head of the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge; Lightnin’, a slow-talking janitor; and a slick attorney, Algonquin J. Calhoun.
Gosden and Correll eventually sold the rights to CBS, which in 1951 introduced the TV show, featuring TV’s first all-black cast. The NAACP passed a resolution condemning the series at its annual convention that year. “Amos ‘n’ Andy” ran until 1953, and the reruns continued in syndication until CBS withdrew them in the mid-1960s, again in the face of NAACP protests.