From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Waits, Ernest J., Sr. "Ernie"

(born: 1920  -  died: 2004) 

Ernie Waits, Sr. is often referred to as the first African American disc jockey in both Kentucky and Ohio [source: E. S. Murrain, "Payola and the Pied Pipers," Tone, 9/1/1960, p. 11]. In Kentucky, he was a DJ at WNOP in Newport [source: see "Gab Bag" in the column "Vox Jox," Billboard, 4/21/1951, pp. 28 & 33]. In Cincinnati, OH he was a DJ at WZIP [source: "Chicago Chatter," Billboard, 5/28/1949, p. 40].

Waits was also among the first African American broadcasters in both radio and television in Cincinnati,  his home town. He was also a singer and musician as well as a civil rights leader who helped start organized labor. He was an international representative for the United Auto Workers; he integrated the Democrat Party of Hamilton County, OH; and he was the first African American in Cincinnati to become a New York Stock Exchange registered representative. He owned a bowling alley and other businesses and helped establish the Black Expo in Cincinnati.

Ernie Waits was born in Georgia and grew up in Cincinnati. He was the son of Jesse and Mozell Harper Waits. He was a veteran of World War II.

For more see Ernie Waits in the H. Wilkinson article, "Berry showed them the way," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/19/2000; Ernie Waits in the Encyclopedia of American Radio, 1920-1960, by L. F. Sies; and Who's Who in Black Cincinnati 2003-2004 Edition, M. C. Sunny and R. Love; and R. Goodman, "Civil Rights fighter Ernest Waits dies," Cincinnati Enquirer, 10/22/2004.

Kentucky County & Region

Read about Campbell County, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Kentucky Place (Town or City)

Read about Newport, Kentucky in Wikipedia.

Outside Kentucky Place Name

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Source: Tone (periodical)
NKAA Source: Billboard (periodical)
NKAA Source: The Cincinnati enquirer (newspaper)
NKAA Source: Encyclopedia of American radio, 1920-1960
NKAA Source: Who's who in black Cincinnati

Related Entries Citing this Entry

NKAA Entry: Wallace, Bonnie Goddard and Theodore "Cal" Sr.

Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Waits, Ernest J., Sr. "Ernie",” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed April 14, 2024,

Last modified: 2022-08-08 16:37:54