Oakland celebrates Soul Beat Day this Saturday

Oakland's Soul Beat, the first Black-owned television network, is once again having its annual summer party this Saturday.

For a quarter-century (1978-2003), Soul Beat was Oakland’s own local public cable channel, unique in the Bay Area. Mostly live, it was completely freeform and accessible.

"A channel dedicated to an entire city — whether it was the politics, whether it was the music, whether it was the community events, Soul Beat was right there every day," said legendary Soul Beat DJ, host and commentator Chuck Johnson.

More than that, it was revolutionary because it gave Oakland's people not a tube to stare at, but a mirror.

"Soul Beat just showed the beauty of Black faces, Black-owned businesses, Black talent in one small city," said Rynell "Showbiz" Williams, now a professional iHeart DJ whose career was inspired by watching Soul Beat.

Soul Beat was the first music video network in the nation, airing in several cities. Now, Soul Beat Day helps keep its beat alive.

"It's basically an every year party to commemorate Soul Beat and its legacy," said Johnson. "This year, we're doing it in the daytime, and we're bringing out some great artists, great music from the DJs from the soundtracks of our lives."

Because of its legacy and contribution to Black history, a Soul Beat documentary is being made. Johnson is working on plans to get it back on the screen.

To help, there are planned concerts, merchandise and a lot of public support. 

"Everybody wants the network back. People want to see the building come back and want it on TV, like they want to see that 24-hour experience again," said Johnson.

Soul Beat Day is this Saturday, July 30 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at The New Parish in Oakland with special reunited acts: the Luniz, Three Times Crazy and DJs.

"[It's] a diverse crowd and audience of people who appreciated Soul Beat," said Johnson.

Tickets are available at Eventbrite.com.