Saturday 11pm – 2am
Henry Cheatham came to Chicago from his native home in Mississippi, after an honorable discharge from the United States Army where he served as a Communications Field Crewman. While working as a utility man at Ford Motor Company between 1965 and 1973, Henry earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Columbia College and a Master of Arts Degree from The University of Illinois at Chicago in Mass Communications.
Until 2008, Henry worked at television stations WISH-TV in Indianapolis, Indiana and WSNS/WMAQ NBC/Telemundo Universal in Chicago , lending his vasts talents as a Producer, Director, Writer, Editor, Transmission, Camera Operator, as well as Studio, E.N.G. and E.F.P. In his spare time, Henry is also a Writer and Photographer. With a passion for helping the next generation of broadcast professionals, Henry taught Speech Communications at Daley College of City Colleges of Chicago. Currently, Henry is the producer and host of his on television program, “Here We Are”, and producer and host of “Classic Blues and R&B” on Saturday nights, on WVON AM 1690.
Henry came to WVON as a Producer and Consultant to Pervis Spann on the television production of a music concert. Henry later began to assist Mr. Spann as producer on his television program “Blues and More” which aired on channel 62 and was later asked to work as a producer on his radio program. When Mr. Spann left his blues show Henry wanted it to continue and took over as the producer and the host.
Pervis Spann has distinguished himself as a broadcaster, exposing generations to the blues.
Spann worked hard from an early age, caring for his mother after she suffered a stroke. At age fourteen, he managed the Dixie Theater, a local all-black theater. In 1949, he moved with his mother and sister to Battle Creek, Michigan. However, Spann soon left to work in Gary, Indiana. Spann enlisted in the U.S. Army toward the end of the Korean War. After completing his service, he moved to Chicago and settled down. He became interested in broadcasting and attended the Midway Television Institute and the Midwestern Broadcasting School on the G.I. Bill.
In the 1950s, Spann was granted a four-hour overnight time slot on WOPA. In 1960, he organized his first concert, showcasing B.B. King and Junior Parker. In 1963, Phil and Leonard Chess bought the radio station, which became WVON, a twenty-four-hour blues station. Spann became the “all-night blues man.” He gained notoriety with an on-air eighty-seven-hour “sleepless sit-in,” raising money for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Spann widened his sphere of influence during the 1960s and began managing talented performers such as B.B. King. He booked major acts, including the Jackson 5 and Aretha Franklin. Spann also owned several South Side clubs in Chicago, including the Burning Spear.
In 1975, WVON was sold and changed frequency. Forming a business syndicate with Vernon Jarrett and Wesley South, Spann bought the license to the original frequency in 1979. Listeners to the new station, WXOL, heard an all-blues format and many of the same voices from the old WVON. The station reclaimed its old call letters in 1983.
In the 1980s, Spann added another station to his radio empire, WXSS in Memphis. He later sold this station. His focus then returned to building WVON with his daughter, Melody Spann-Cooper, at the helm. He continues his career promoting the blues as the host of Blues with Pervis Spann – The Blues Man.