Funeral services for Sidney L. Small, chairman and CEO of Access.1 Communications Corp., were held yesterday in Brooklyn at Christian Cultural Center. Rev. Al Sharpton delivered the eulogy, and services were attended by urban radio industry leaders including Pepe Sutton of Inner City Broadcasting Corp. Stevie Wonder attended and performed on harmonica in tribute to the urban radio pioneer. Small died unexpectedly of a heart attack while biking in Manhattan on August 8. He was 72.
Access.1 Communications is the parent company of WWRL 1600AM, a 24-hour station serving the New York metropolitan area, as well as the owner/operator of 16 radio stations in New Jersey, Texas and Louisiana. Access.1 also owns SupeRadio, a syndication company that distributes programming to more than 1,000 radio stations.
After beginning his media career in 1967 at ABC Radio Networks, Small moved on to Time Inc., where he oversaw printing and production of magazines, before co-founding, with former partners Eugene Jackson and Del Raycee, urban radio networks Unity Broadcasting (UBN) and National Black Network (NBN) in the early 1970s. Small would ultimately help lead NBN to the ranks of the BE 100s, the nation’s largest black-owned companies. In October 1991, Small joined forces with Ronald R. Davenport, merging NBN and Sheridan Broadcasting Network Inc. to form American Urban Radio Networks (AURN), which served more than 300 radio stations nationwide. Small and Davenport served as co-chairmen of the newly created BE 100s company.
Small was a founding member of the National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) and served on its board of directors for more than two decades. He was also a co-founder of the World Institute of Black Communications/CEBA Awards, an advertising industry awards program. A champion of creating opportunities for minorities in the radio industry, Small led NABOB’s successful campaign to get Arbitron, the radio ratings agency, to modify its audience measurement methods to take into better account African American and Hispanic audiences. Most recently, he was at the forefront of NABOB’s efforts to get financial relief for minority broadcasters impacted by the recession.
As a tribute to his life, the Sydney L. Small Scholarship has been established at Pace University.