William H. Dilday Jr., the country’s first Black television station manager, passed away on July 27 in Newton, Massachusetts. He passed away when he was 85 years old.
The New York Times was informed by Erika Dilday, Dilday Jr.’s daughter, that her father passed away in the hospital as a result of complications following a fall.
William Dilday Jr., who was he?
On September 14, 1937, William H. Dilday Jr. was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a pioneer in the television industry. He was raised by his parents, William Horace Dilday and Alease Virginia Scott.
Dilday’s formal education began at the prestigious Boston Latin School. After graduating from high school, Dilday enrolled at Boston University to pursue a degree in business administration.
In 1964, Dilday started working for IBM as an operations supervisor. However, Dilday didn’t start to have a significant impact on the TV industry until he was hired as the director of personnel at WHDH-TV in Boston in 1969.
Throughout his career, William H. Dilday Jr. struggled to succeed as an African American executive in a largely white industry. Despite the challenges, he persevered and overcame what initially seemed insurmountable.
It was one of the biggest challenges Dilday faced when he took over as general manager of WLBT-TV/WLBM-TV in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1972. He was now a network affiliate station’s first African American general manager.
While he was the chief operating officer of WLBT-TV/WLBM-TV, the station experienced extraordinary success, consistently placing first in Nielson and Arbitron ratings from November 1973 to February 1984.
Dilday led the Jackson Urban League, a civil rights and community service organization, from 1978 to 1979. Additionally, he offered advice to local politicians, such as Rep. Bennie Thompson, chair of the House and Senate committee looking into the riots on January 6, 2021, at the US Capitol.
The four grandchildren of Dilday Jr., his wife Maxine Wiggins, daughters Erika and Scott Sparrow, and son Dilday Jr.
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