During this point in time, staff at Rough Draft Magazine find it appropriate to model truth and show gratitude to those who have paved the way for an outlet like us to exist. One person who crossed our path in 2020 provided the lens into the past and lended sight as our nation seemed blinded by division. This person is a 2X Hall of Fame legend, radio and media icon, and loving neighbor, Bruce “Commander” Garrett.
Commander began his life and career in Huntsville, Alabama. In his own words, he “grew up in a bubble in Alabama. There is Huntsville and then there is Alabama”. The town is infamously known for its connection to the NASA program and the space shuttle. It was from this bubble in Huntsville, that WEUP Radio, the first black owned American radio outlet, was launched into radio wavelengths by his family on March 20, 1958.
Commander’s rough draft story began before his time and will continue onward. WEUP 103.1 began broadcasting in 1958, from a trailer on a 100-watt 1600 kHz AM frequency, owned by Leroy and Viola Garrett. Commander was born into the family known for representing the first African-American media outlet of its stature. The station’s original sound included a mixture of urban gospel, combined with sounds of soul music. They also served as a news source that targeted locals and reached those of the Tennessee Valley’s black population. Originally, the neighboring white-owned radio stations were allowed to run 24-hour broadcasts, while stations like WEUP were limited in hours. Radio was the means of communicating to a community in the case of a tornado or emergency, a privilege only select communities were fortunate enough to have.
That was until the Garretts made history when they testified before a congressional committee in 1963, the outcome of which resulted in the change of a Federal Communications Commission law regulating 24-hour broadcasts in the 1960s. According to their official website, “that year WEUP began 24-hour broadcasts — yet another milestone for black radio”.
Commander moved to Las Vegas in the 80’s and worked in real estate, buying and selling property. One day he walked into a radio station, KLAV, attempting to buy a slot for a commercial to promote real estate services. However, the station did not sell commercial slots, but instead, sold block time, which he could use to promote his business and secure sponsorships. In his own words, “a beautiful woman with bright silver hair..I believe her name was Peggy..told me I could sell advertising time to sponsors..I told her give me one second..and I called my job and quit on the spot…I’ve been in radio ever since.”
Now to be clear, it is impossible to encapsulate Commander in a single article. The magnitude of his significance can be seen and heard throughout radio. His early prediction of radio’s transition to the online space embodies a comment Commander made in conversation, “you can fight change but change is going to happen”. His current work includes owning and hosting his iconic radio show, Nights Over Las Vegas, expanding 22.3 Take Over Vegas Radio with DJ BAD GYRL, and modeling ownership through Commander Bruce Media. When speaking to Rough Draft Magazine, Commander advised that, “people don’t realize when you sell things you lose control”.
Bruce “Commander” Garrett should not only be celebrated for being a black man in America or for being born into a family that is working to carve away the stones on our path…he should also be celebrated for his desire to heal people through music, which he accomplishes best, simply by being around you.
Tune into Bruce “Commander” Garrett’s Nights Over Las Vegas every Friday between 9pm-11pm PST. For more information, visit Commander on Instagram.
Bruce Commander Garrett I am a Guinness World Record Holder member on 22.3 Take Over Vegas Radio, 2x radio “Hall of Fame” member of the Nevada Broadcaster Association. Creator and Owner of the hit radio show “Nights Over Las Vegas PRIME TIME with the Commander ” reaching 190 Countries and 605 USA cities online in Cars and Homes online all over the World From 22.3 TAKE OVER VEGAS RADIO, plus host of TV shows “ Hall of Fame” TV show WC0BM TV NETWORK and the SHUTTLE DANCE TV SHOW. My family the Garrett Broadcasting company was the 1st Blacks to own a radio in Alabama. It was WEUP 1600 AM in Huntville, Alabama. Many awards in Radio, TV and Enterainment. It an honor to live your dream life in Broadcasting all over the World helping people with a moment of happiness my believe is “TAKE CARE THE PEOPLE, THEY WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU “ Bruce Commander Garrett
Honors & Awards
- Broadcast Media
A “Hall of Fame” member of the Nevada Broadcast Association, Las Vegas Entertainer and Museum Hall of Fame for Achievement in Broadcast Media
Bruce Commander Garrett GUINNESS WORLD RECORD HOLDER, was inducted into the Las Vegas Entertainers Hall of Fame for his Achievement in Broadcast Media, Master of Excellence and the Las Vegas Entertainment and Museum Hall of Fame award in Media Broadcasting WC0BM TV Pioneer Award and a “Hall of Fame” member of the Nevada Broadcast Association
“Take care of the people and the people will take care of you”
Written by: David Biga
Edited by: Jeremiah Davis