Part 1 of a 2-Part series on WEAA Gospel on-air personality Ernestine Jones.  

   WEAA Gospel on-air radio personality Ernestine Jones vividly recalls how her broadcasting career began. 

   “I always listened to the radio and wanted to be a news reporter,” said Jones. “So when I was in my early 30’s, I had a cassette player with a microphone. I got a newspaper and recorded myself reading some local news, sports and weather.”

   She continued, “I had no appointment, but took the cassette to a gospel station I always listened to called WBGR, where Bishop Naomi Durant was in charge, Kelson ‘Hot Rod’ Fisher was the assistant and Lee Michaels was the on-air personality. When I got there with no appointment, the secretary told me that Bishop Durant did not see anyone without an appointment.”

   Undeterred, Jones said she stayed and waited to see the late Bishop Durant who passed away in 2020. 

   “I sat at the door and did not leave because I knew that Bishop Durant was getting ready to end her radio shift,” said Jones. “When I saw Bishop Durant coming out of the on-air studio, I jumped up from the chair, got in her face and begged her to listen to my cassette and tell me if I had any talent. Bishop Durant sternly told me to leave because I did not have an appointment.” 

   However, what happened next would “chart” Jones’ career.  

   “I turned toward the door,” said Jones. “When I touched the door knob, Bishop Durant yelled ‘Hey Miss, I remember that’s how I got started in this business by bogarting my way to the top, so I will listen to your cassette. Come into my office.’ Now I was shaking like a leaf when she called me into her office. Hot Rod and Lee Michaels also came in. They all listened and I was hired that day on the spot.”

   What followed has been a broadcasting career that has spanned 40 years and counting. Jones has spent over 30 of those years at Morgan State University on WEAA 88.9 FM. The legendary broadcaster is on the air from 5 a.m. until 7 a.m. and hosts “Gospel Grace at Daybreak.”

   “Radio has opened doorways for me to reach people through the songs I play on the air,” said Jones. “The songs I play touch and inspire them. So many people have called to tell me the songs I play have lifted them and their loved ones while they were in the hospital and were a source of encouragement. For me, to touch people, inspire them and motivate them through the songs I choose to play, has been and is the most uplifting thing in my life. Songs like “We Fall Down” by Donnie McClurkin which lets us know that we all have problems in the fall, but we can get back up.”

   While WBGR Radio launched her career, her love for music and broadcasting dates back to when she was a child singing in the choir at her late father’s church.

   “During my early years, I was moved by the news, but even more amazed at the newscasters,” said Jones. “I would listen to news on the radio and watch the newscasters constantly on the television instead of going out of the house to be with others. I was fascinated at how clearly the enunciation of words were expressed. While attending school I always wanted to speak clearly and even when taking French classes at Pimlico Junior High School, I made it a point to pronounce French words so exact, and was even labeled the teacher’s pet for always getting 100’s on tests and sounding like I actually came from France.”

    Jones is a graduate of Western High School where she mastered the tuba; was a part of the band/orchestra; was selected to be in the BSO; and sang with Souls for Victory Gospel Choir. She is a graduate of Baltimore City College and earned several scholarships to attend Morgan State University. She attends the Huber Memorial Church, where the Rev. Dr. P.M. Smith is pastor. The recently retired paralegal is married and has been a member of Huber Memorial Church for over 20 years. She serves on the Television Ministry and is the voice-over announcer for Huber’s on-air “Living Hope” television broadcast on WMAR-TV Channel 2.

   “What God has for you, it is for you!” exclaimed Jones noting that 1st Corinthians 2:9: which says “But as it is written, eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” is her favorite scripture. “I want my story to inspire others to follow their dreams.”

 Coming next week: Part 2. 

Ursula V. Battle
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