I didn’t realize Frank Melton, the Jackson, Miss. mayor who passed away early Thursday, had an extensive broadcasting background. He was a sports reporter who moved onto management, and eventually, station ownership. He sold WLBT Jackson and a few Texas stations to Liberty Broadcasting (LBT is now owned by Raycom), and focused on a career in politics thereafter.
Melton, who was 60, collapsed on Jackson’s Election Day Tuesday and died of heart failure early Thursday morning.
WLBT.com says Melton’s management style could be a bit brusque.
He moved rapidly through the ranks of tv stations in Lufkin and Tyler, and quickly became manager at KLTV in Tyler at very young age for such a position.
He was hand picked by the former president of the NAACP in Mississippi, Aaron Henry, to come to Jackson and run WLBT at age 33.
He took over and immediately fired the first black general manager of a network affiliated tv station in the country, Bill Dilday. He forced the resignations of many others at WLBT like anchor and news director Walter Saddler.
Local black folks called for a boycott of the tv station, that did not work.
Coincidentally, we’re doing a market profile on Jackson for the first time. It runs May 18.