Herman Arthur “Art” Gilliam, the firstborn of parents H.A. and Leola Gilliam, has been a man of many Memphis “firsts”.
After receiving degrees from Yale and Michigan, Art returned to Memphis to become the first African American to write for The Commercial Appeal. He became the first African American On-Air reporter and anchor on Memphis television at WMC-TV. In 1977, under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, a Memphian and first African American on the Federal Communications Commission, Art Gilliam became the first African American in Memphis, the state of Tennessee and the entire southeast, to own a radio station when he purchased WLOK AM-1340.
For over 42 years, Art, as Chairman of the board, and President of Gilliam Communications Inc. and WLOK AM/FM, has entertained, informed and engaged the Memphis community. WLOK’s annual signature event, the Stone Soul Picnic, was formerly Memphis’ biggest single-day event, attracting well over 100,000 people. Currently, the Stone Soul Picnic weekend has been enhanced and expanded, and still attracts thousands of loyal, loving fans.