One day a local record store owner contacted Freed and said that for some unknown reason his teenage customers were starting to buy a lot of black rhythm and blues records and that it might make his show more popular if he began playing some of these tunes. Freed took his advice and in 1951 he started playing black rhythm and blues to a white teenage audience. The response was immediate as his show skyrocketed in popularity. He coined the term "rock and roll" from a song done by a black group of the day as a means to appease those who held a prejudice against black music.
This success led to Freed’s "Moondog Coronation Ball" in Cleveland in 1952. It was held at a hall with seating for 10,000 and featured popular black acts of the time. Another 6,000 stormed the gates for a total attendance of 16,000, two thirds of which were white.
By 1954, Freed had outgrown Cleveland and moved to New York to work for WINS radio. Once again his show took off and was soon rated number one. He also starred in a series of rock and roll movies which further increased his popularity.