WTUL’s Senior Voice Hosts Longest-Running Reggae Show in US

sheppard

After watching the music industry evolve from transistor radios to mp3s, this 62-year-old reggae DJ fears the internet

This story was published on April 18, 2011 in Offbeat Magazine. 

The coffee shop on the corner of Carrolton and Oak Street, in Uptown New Orleans, is a century old, tall and white, with towering ceilings that bear the faded symbols of its days long ago as the neighborhood bank. It is mid-morning when the locals begin to file in, in droves, snaking their way to the long, narrow counter, as they have been doing for years, decades, even.

On one Saturday in November 2005, however, as the surrounding city was still staggering from Hurricane Katrina and everything seemed upside-down—businesses shut down, homes empty, knee-high grass where the streetcar used to run—the still-brewing coffee wasn’t the only welcome constant in the customers’ lives. Up on the overlooking balcony loft, Shepard Samuels, a round 57-year-old man with frizzy sideburns and long stringy brown hair parted down the middle, stood at a turntable, and spoke into a microphone, his deep, trembling, Southern voice familiar to listeners across the city, from the Ninth Ward to the Garden District to Metairie. The crew of college kids scurrying around him with technical equipment was broadcasting his words, as they slowly and deliberately trickled out, live on FM radio.
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