Small, pioneering urban radio owner dies at 72

Sydney “Syd” L. Small, one of the nation’s pre-eminent African-American broadcast owners for more than three decades, died suddenly this past weekend in New York. He was 72 years old.

His death was confirmed by Access.1 Communications where he was chairman and CEO. Further information about his passing was not immediately available. The company owns radio stations in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas and Louisi­ana, also has television stations in Atlantic City and parts of New Jersey.


Small’s pioneering career as an owner in broadcasting spanned 37 years. A native of Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant, he left an executive position at Time Inc. in 1972 to co-found, with partner Eugene Jackson, Unity Broadcasting Network and National Black Network. NBN was the first African-American-owned line connected radio network in the U.S.

In 1991, in what was to that point the biggest deal in the history of Black radio, National Black Network and Sheridan Broadcasting Corp. came together to form what is now American Urban Radio Networks. Today, AURN is the only African-American- owned network radio company in the United States. It is the largest network reaching urban America, with more than 200 weekly shows reaching an estimated 20 million listeners.

Access.1, which owns 49 percent of AURN, also owns SuperRadio, a general market syndication company that distributes 40 radio programs through more than 1,400 affiliate agreements with more than 725 radio stations.

“Sydney Small was a great friend and colleague,” said Jim Winston of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters. “We worked together on NABOB related issues for more 25 years, and throughout that time I always knew I could count on him for guidance and support. He was always ready to give his time and resources to promote the success of Black broadcasters. On a personal level, he was a very good-hearted person with a great sense of humor, and he tried to help people in any way he could. I and everyone in NABOB will miss him greatly.”


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