We Recognize Her: Vy Higginsen, The First Female Radio Personality On WBLS

March 3, 2021


In honor of Women’s History Month, WBLS is proud to acknowledge and celebrate the women who make contributions to our communities and our culture. Today, join us as we Recognize Her, music industry pioneer, Vy Higginsen

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Higginsen can be considered a living legend who has been blazing a trail for decades. She is known for having a deep commitment to celebrating the rich heritage of the African- American culture. 

Higginsen’s career began at an early age once she graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School and went to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), where she would study marketing and merchandising. She would also maintain employment working at Citibank at night. Once she graduated from FIT, she went on to work at a local department, which taught her how to be responsible and diligent. 

Although she found her footing in the fashion industry, Higginsen would become inspired to start a new venture after watching her sister, Doris, perform the song “Just One Look” that would on to become number one on the music charts in the United States and England. Higgensen would join her sister on a tour where she would meet a different number of music celebrities. 

In the 1970s, Higginsen landed a job working for Ebony magazine where she became the first woman to work in the advertising sales department. It was there where she would experience how difficult it was dealing with white-owned corporations while promoting the company as a major voice of black culture. 

Higginsen decided to leave Ebony and find a different kind of work. Still inspired by the experiences she shared with her sister, Higginsen went on to attend Columbia School of Broadcasting. While she was finished studying there, she would make an audition tape and send it to the program manager of our very own WBLS radio station, Frankie Crocker. Crocker became impressed by her voice he hired her as host and disc jockey for a midday show. 

She would become the first woman to host her own primetime radio show. She would work for WBLS for five years. The radio station wasn’t the only job she would have during that time. She decided to launch her own magazine called Unique NY, which ran from 1975-1980. 

After leaving WBLS, she would accept a job as a co-anchor on the television program Positively Black and also hosted radio shows on New York stations WRKS and WWRL. 

In 1981, after marrying Ken Wydro, the couple would begin to work on a project called Mama. I Want to Sing. The project would be based on her sister, Doris Troy, and it would tell the story of Troy singing in the choir at their father’s church as a child and the difficulties she faced growing up with a strictly religious mother.

The play would open up in 1983 at the off-Broadway Heckscher Theater. The play would become the longest-running off-Broadway musical as well as become very popular amongst black audiences. In 1998, Higginsen and Wydro founded the Mama Foundation for the Arts, a theater and musical arts school focused on African-American music.  Her most successful projects would be the Gospel for Teens, where students learn the historical roots and the techniques of gospel music. 

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Higginsen’s career didn’t stop there. She would go on to publish children’s books, create a series of gospel musical productions and continue her role as the chief executive director and executive director of the MFA. She is also an ordained minister. 

Vy Higginsen we honor you for everything you have done for many to follow. 

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