Access.1 Communications confirms that founder and CEO Sydney Small died unexpectedly over the weekend. He was 72.
Small entered broadcasting in 1972, founding the National Black Network after leaving an executive post at Time Inc., the New York Daily News reported. He bought WWRL-AM New York in 1982. It remains the flagship of his company, now called Access.1 Communications, with additional radio stations in Marshall, TX; Tyler-Longview, TX; and Shreveport, LA. It also owns WMGM-TV (NBC) Atlantic City and stakes in SuperRadio and American Urban Radio Network.
Funeral arrangements are pending.
The National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters issued a statement mourning the passing of its long-time member:
“The members of the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters, Inc. are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Sydney Small. Mr. Small was a member of the NABOB Board of Directors, on which he served for over two decades, and was a leading force in the broadcast industry for over three decades. He was a quiet, steady leader of NABOB, always providing wisdom and guidance to its members.
Mr. Small, along with his former partner, Eugene Jackson, founded the National Black Network in the early 1970s. Eventually, NBN merged with Sheridan Broadcasting Network to form American Urban Radio Networks, today’s largest Black radio network. In the 1970s, Mr. Small and Mr. Jackson also founded Unity Broadcasting, which owned and operated radio stations around the country. In the 1980s, Unity joined with Inner City Broadcasting Company and Time Warner, to form Inner Unity Cable, which obtained a franchise and constructed and operated a cable television system in Queens, New York.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Small founded Access.1 Communications Corp, which now owns 15 radio stations in New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Louisiana, a television station in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and SupeRadio, a radio syndication company.
Among his many NABOB friends and colleagues, ‘Sid’ was known as a person who was always ready to give his time and resources to promote the success of Black broadcasters. Jim Winston, Executive Director of NABOB, said, “’Sid was someone to whom I could always go for guidance and support. He had an extensive knowledge and understanding of the broadcast industry, and he was always looking to find ways to help Black broadcasters build their companies.’ Winston added, ‘Sid was a good hearted person with a great sense of humor, and he tried to help people in any way that he could. He will be deeply missed by everyone in NABOB’.”