A one-story brick white building stands as the civil rights birthplace and the headquarters for Eaton Media Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Published: 07/24/2019 | Reading Time: 2 min 43 sec
By Nehemiah D. Frank
When first arriving at Eaton Media Services on North Norfolk Ave in Tulsa, Oklahoma — a one-story structure with two doors, two windows, and a slightly slanted rooftop, you won’t be reminded of the modern-day corporate media buildings like the headquarters for iHeartRadio or Cox Media.
The building is a small family-owned structure; its outer appearance doesn’t conform to the majority of America’s expectations of what a broadcasting station should look like.
However, to Bobby Eaton, his father, Eaton Sr. and his son Trey, it’s a priceless edifice whose painted white bricks hold secrets to a triumphant and awe-inspiring past, a time when Greenwood was still the common phrase that residents used to describe their section of town — an era when Black Wall Street’s sun was beginning to set.
Today, Bobby Eaton, the owner of Eaton Media Services, continues that self-determined legacy that built the Black Wall Street, having toured the world with the late Natalie Cole as a bass player for 7-years. He is the recipient of numerous awards both in the entertainment business as well as his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma.
One of several gold and platinum records he earned in the music business.
On February 20, 2019, Bobby received an Honorable Recognition from Mayor G.T. Bynum of Tulsa. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame at Booker T. Washington High School, the city’s leading academic institution and historic black high school.
Bobby shared with me of the time he attended Booker T. Washington before it became integrated in 1973. He is a member of the last all-black graduating class of 1972.
“I remember protesting as a little boy, down at the [Tulsa Public School] education center for our Black teachers — back in the day. We protested against substandard pay that Black teachers received and the poor conditions of our books at Booker T. We knew the white schools had nicer things.”
Honors and Recognitions
Bobby, to some degree, still believes that racial integration is an illusion.
“We’re able to go to different places, but is it really integration? As Black people, we still struggle and fight for our rights every day. One thing I think we need to do, as a people, is pass our history down,” he explained. Bobby credits his father for teaching him about Black History. He doesn’t believe that Black youth are learning enough about their history in today’s integrated school systems.
Bobby’s father, Eaton Sr., was one of the first of many Tulsans arrested during the ’60s in a protest to integrate a whites-only shopping center in Tulsa. Eaton, Sr. was keen on ensuring that Bobby and the community knew how to organize and stand up for themselves as people with dignity.
Photo of Bobby Eaton, Sr.
Next to Eaton Media Services, within the same building, is an old barbershop that’s now closed. Bobby explained that the birthplace of Tulsa’s own civil rights movement began there.
Bobby’s roots in North Tulsa began tugging on his heart about 4-years-ago when he lived in Houston, TX. Nevertheless, through a series of phone calls, his parents persuaded him to move back home to Tulsa.
He described how Tulsa’s media climate lacked Black representations. Before founding his company, The Oklahoma Eagle was the only news platform reporting Black narratives and their perspectives, who lived in the city, which led to Bobby establishing Eaton Media Services. The company now produces the Bobby Eaton Show and The Juice Radio Show. His son, Trey, 17, is involved in the production of both shows and helps run the studio.
In July, Eaton Media Services erected a 40-foot radio tower. The company will be the first black-owned radio station to broadcast out of Tulsa, Oklahoma since the late ’70s and early ’80s.
The father and son duo, without question, are making a positive impact and improving the lives on their community and city.
Recently, Bobby, his son, and members of the Juice Radio Show held a community festival that included live music, food trucks and a moonbounce for the kids. Every year since being back in Tulsa, Bobby and his son have held a back to school school’s supply drive for students.
Bobby Anthony Eaton, Jr. owner of Eaton Media Services
Bobby Anthony Eaton, Jr. is the model dad, son, citizen, and community leader — an excellent example whose character in service is what young men in the community should inspire to become.
Nehemiah D. Frank is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Black Wall Street Times, an educator, TEDx alum, blogger for EdPost, and Community Advisory Board Member for the Tulsa World.