RADIO HOST DAVID 'RAM JAM 'RODIGAN HONORED WITH UK'S 5TH HIGHEST AWARD
NY: London's Kiss FM radio host David Rodigan had his "moment" at Buckingham Palace in England on Feb 14th when he was presented with UK's fifth highest award, the prestigious Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE).
Queen Elizabeth couldn't make it to the award ceremony so it was His Royal Highness The Prince Of Wales who presented Rodigan with the prestigious award.
Rodigan' illustrious career as a radio host and sound system selector spans 35-years. Rodigan can be heard on Sunday night 11 p.m. - 1:00 a.m. on London's Kiss FM and in the USA on WVIP 93.5 FM on Irie Jam Radio on the popular 'London Calling' which airs each Saturday.
A few years ago IAMGES Newsletter did a 'One on One' interview with the celebrated radio host who rose to fame in Jamaica during his popular radio clashes with Barry "Barry G" Gordon.
Here are exerts from an interview with Rodigan.
As a big storm blankets New York with 12” of snow, David 'Ram Jam' Rodigan, well-known British radio personality, DJ, reggae enthusiast and music collector is preparing to fly back to London after hosting a series of dances in the Big Apple. “Roddy is not only a big time dj in England, he regularily host the “London Calling” on Irie Jam, WVIP radio in NY.
Long before he began his exploits on Irie Jam radio in New York, Rodigan made his name in London and Jamaica. In fact for more three decades, he has been the voice of reggae on UK radio. From 1979-1990, he hosted the "Roots Rocker's" show on London's Capital Radio. At Kiss 100 FM in London, he also presents a Monday night Reggae show, as well as a broad-based weekday drive time show. For thirteen years, he also hosted the Saturday "Reggae Night" at Gossip's nightclub. Given the respect he commands in the business, many are surprised to learn that he is white. But don’t be fooled by his looks or British accent. Sound systems like Bodyguard and Stone Love have made the mistake, and paid dearly.
INL: So how did you get into Reggae?
DR: "I lived in a village in Oxfordshire, and in Oxford itself there was a small Jamaican community. We would meet them through football matches, and just hang out in town. And at fourteen or fifteen, when you were sneaking out to go to clubs, the music that was being played was Rock Steady, Ska, in '67. I was a young Mod and that's the music we bought; that's the music we loved. We rode around on scooters, and we'd go to all-night Ska dances."
INL: How did you get connected with Irie Jam?
DR: I first got connected with Irie Jam when Louis Grant invited me to come on board with a program called “London Calling.” The concept was to present a news desk of what was happening in London musically and otherwise, to reflect on the popular releases of the week and to do a little vintage section. I would also do an analysis of a particular artist work. The idea was to expand Irie Jam’s audience, to give a better service and more news and other coverage from other parts of the world where reggae is popular.
INL: How did radio listeners in New York receive the show?
DR: It was very well received. I remember one particular time I landed at JFK airport in NY and got into a yellow cab to go into Manhattan. I was having a casual conversation with the driver and I asked him as a matter of interest what was his favorite station. He said ‘I listen to Irie Jam, that is my favorite station.’ He said ‘my favorite DJ, who is coming on later today is David Rodigan.’ I just could not believe what I heard. And I said to him, ‘you are not gonna believe this but I am David Rodigan.’ The man nearly crashed his car on the bridge. He could not believe it. He shook my hand off when we got to the hotel. That was an example of people’s response from the street. I think people enjoyed the program. It was something different, it was from another country and it was up to speed with what was happening in England.
INL: Would you be interested in doing another program on Irie Jam?
DR: Absolutely! It is something that I would love to start doing again.
INL: What is it like being white in a black industry?
DR: "I have never been in a situation where I have been booed, where I have been given any kind of bad treatment. I have walked through Western Kingston. I have walked in the toughest parts of town, where other Jamaicans would say they wouldn't go, and I have never ever felt remotely threatened, intimidated, frightened or concerned, in fact quite the reverse."
INL: How did the famous radio 'clashes' with Barry G come about?
DR: "In 1983 I was doing a program in Jamaica for London's Capital Radio and Barry G had his own show there [in Jamaica]; so I invited him on to be my guest and he responded accordingly. So we started these clashes." Broadcast simultaneously in London and JA, "they became phenomenally popular in Jamaica because there had been sound system clashes from the beginning of time in Jamaican music, but not on air; so it was great fun."
INL: You have covered the reggae scene for many years, what are your thoughts on the industry today?
DR: I think reggae has come a long way. I admire what some people have done both artistically and from an industry point of view. I admire the work of VP Records. They have done a lot to break the music in the US. May his sole rest in peace… the great Vincent Chin and Mrs. Pat who set it up. From those two seeds in a pot, look what it has grown into today! An empire in America. That is impressive. Reggae has come a long way. In 40 years the music has grown by leaps and bounds. It has had such a major impact on world music, from the Rolling Stones, The Police to Paul Simon who have covered the music. Those early recordings of the Skatalies and the Wailers, those were the masterpieces, the benchmarks, the templates, the original sketches that became the glorious work, which we now look back at and admire with such joy. They artists have inspired generations to follow through.