03/29/2013 05:37 pm ET Updated Apr 04, 2013

WVON 50 Year Anniversary: Black Owned Chicago Radio Station Celebrates Milestone

Next weekend legendary independent Chicago radio station, WVON will celebrate its 50th anniversary of broadcasting on the airwaves.

Launched in April 1963, the Urban talk formatted station evolved from the go-to platform for Motown Records and Chess Records to being dubbed as "The Talk of Chicago" and "The Voice of the Nation."

Iconic musician Roy Ayers is set to kick off the two-day celebration with a special performance on April 5. The performance will be followed by the station’s “IMPACT 50” Grand Gala, which is hosted by Tracee Ellis Ross and morning personality, Matt McGill and includes a performance by Grammy Award-winner Toni Braxton.

WVON President, Melody Spann admitted that the commemorative celebration is exhilarating.
“I am over the top with excitement about this historic time,” she said in a statement provided to the Huffington Post. “The company has gone the distance. Two years ago I didn’t think we would make it to this day, due to the state of the economy and changing times.”

“Being independently owned in the third largest market, we definitely faced some challenges to stay afloat. We have stood the test of time and worked through the challenges, so this makes it an extra special time for us.”

Spann went on to add that the station has plans to continue its success for many years to come thanks to the technological advancements of the radio industry.

“With technology evolving we have been able to expand over the internet. With iHeartRadio it allows WVON to be heard across the nation,” she said. “Daily we have callers who are listening and making their voice heard in the Chicago market.”

“Radio like so many other industries are becoming leaner and meaner. The best in class brands will remain standing. For 50 years WVON has been the voice of the nation. We have the experience and credibility to stay relevant in changing times.”

The “IMPACT 50” Grand Gala will also feature a dance routine choreographed by Andrea Kelly, with remarks by Roland Martin, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Cathy Hughes, Rev. Al Sharpton, Dick Gregory and more.