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James H. Lyons

Born on 3-15-1919. He was born in Buffalo, NY. He was accomplished in the area of Media. He later died on 12-28-1981.
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James H. Lyons was a lifelong Buffalo resident and a leader in black community affairs. He was Buffalo's first black disc jockey. He was widely known in the late 1950s and 60s for conducting his own show, "The Lyons Den," on WXRA in Kenmore and WWOL in Buffalo. In WWOL, he produced a gospel music program, "The Upper Room." He later became the public-service director and full-time disc jockey for WUFO in 1960.

Lyons had many recording artists of the day on his program, including Sammy Davis, Jr., the Marvelettes and Little Stevie Wonder. But he also interviewed some of the most controversial figures on his show like Malcolm X. Wyatt Tee Walker, one of Dr. Martin Luther King's right-hand lieutenants was an early guest on WUFO. He believed that he had an obligation to inform the community as well as entertain them.

He was actively involved in organizing the benefit shows for the United Negro College Fund. In his earlier years Mr. Lyons displayed immense talents. Mr. Lyons was a professional singer at the age of 16. He graduated in 1937 from the Buffalo Technical High School and went on to attend West Virginia State College. He transferred to the University at Buffalo, where he completed his degree in engineering.

Mr. Lyons joined the United States Army and graduated from U.S. Army Air Defense School and the Command and General Staff College. After his leave from the military, he began working for Westinghouse and in 1949 joined Bell Aircraft, where he held the position of technical writer and illustrator. He was one of only three African Americans working for the company.

In 1958 he teamed up with Isaiah Richardson to produce the 100-page "Negro Dictionary of the Niagara Frontier", which listed more than 2,000 regional professional black persons. He went on to form the Jimmy Lyons Construction Company after leaving his career in broadcasting, and in 1968 joined the Buffalo city department, where he worked as a housing inspector, rehabilitation construction analyst, and neighborhood housing specialist.

In 1981 he was elected president of the Buffalo Chapter of Blacks in Government. Mr. Lyons was an active member of both the YMCA and the Urban League. He was the recipient of many community awards, including an award for Good Race Relations Work presented by Buffalo Councilman King W. Peterson.

Mr. Lyons is the father of three children, JoAnne Lyons-Wooten, James Lyons Jr., and Gail Lyons-Hawkins. During a "StoryCorps" interview in 2008, the children shared memories of their father and his musical career. "For me, going to the radio station was heaven," says James. "The biggest thrill was he'd let me sit next to him when he was on the air doing his [show] Lyons Den. He would let me push the button for the commercials. He'd say, "OK champ, standby. OK, now. According to Gail there were plenty of perks to being the children of a DJ. He had all the latest music and we didn't have to buy any because he had the demos! It was years before we had to go to a record store!" http://storycorps.org/blog/east-mobilebooth/buffalo-ny/the-lyons-den/

On Monday, December 28, 1981, at the age of 62, Mr. James H. Lyons passed away in Buffalo General Hospital.