Everyone has an origin story. Here is mine. I ‘n’ I had moved to Salt Lake City, Fall of 1986 to attend the University of Utah. Left Bozeman, Montana (Montana State) and brought with me a good stereo system. Laser turntable, Bose 301 speakers, cassette deck and amp.
I also brought with me this new fangled gadget called the CD player. In Montana I had always been a music obsessive and I ‘n’ I was probably the first on the block to purchase a CD player. Well, Mom got it for me Xmas 1985. Fisher model you would get at Montgomery Wards. So low frills all it displayed was the track number.
Salt Lake City had great independent record stores when I arrived in 1986. (Most are gone today). I had switched over from vinyl to the aluminum coaster thingees that were pretty expensive. $18 in 80’s money must be about $30 dollars today.
I had met some people in the dorms and one of them was a Jewish trust fund kid named Neil Copperman. I was in that sort of mid 80’s rut where all my favorite groups were flogging a synth drum excess that I wasn’t into. The Clash fell apart. My favorite college rock band was Minutemen and their frontman, D. Boon died in a car accident.
I ‘n’ I was looking for a new genre to collect. Bought some blues. Dabbled in world. Nothing really sunk in. Neil and I would trade disks and make cassette copies. One day we were in his room: small concrete bunkers. His stereo was better than mine. He brought out a CD by a group that looked like Prince with dreadlocks: Michael Rose, Ducky Simpson and black beauty Puma Jones.
Dropped the disk in the player, itched up the volume and BLAM. The heavens parted, trumpets blared. It was Black Uhuru meets Sly & Robbie. That synth drum crap I hated on the Rolling Stones records was massive on this Reggae outing.
That disk lit the fuse and I ‘n’ I never looked back. Spring of 1987 I was involved in a campus radio station called K-UTE. I programmed, if you could call it that, a Reggae show called Positive Vibration named after the Bob Marley tune.
Spring 1988 my college roommate and I were in the Pie Pizzeria. They were listening to the community station called KRCL. I had discovered their two mainstay programs devoted to Reggae: Smile Jamaica (Sat. 1-4pm) hosted by Rutabaga Reese. Wednesday nights was Nite Roots with Papa Pilgrim.
I ‘n’ I would listen to Smile Jamaica with a note pad and jot down all these great albums that Rutabaga was playing: Ini Kamoze, Don Carlos, Wailing Souls, Mighty Diamonds. Bliss. Saturday afternoons became “my college for musical knowledge” with the Dub Professor, Rutabaga Reese.
That night in the pizza joint we heard a call out for new volunteers. Roomie wanted to do 80’s college rock (they were set for that.) I was selected to do a late night/early morning show called 3 O’clock Roadblock (another Bob tune.) The weekend before I debuted, June 26, 1988 I ‘n’ I roadtripped to San Francisco and scoured the city spending my student loan cash to front music for the new show: night owls, insomniacs, 7-11 workers and cat burglars.
Super hot summer. Great way to learn the ropes.
I programmed late nights from end of June 1988 to August 1989. A couple months later I went from the minor leagues to prime time, Saturday afternoons, Oct. 1989 to share Smile Jamaica with Rutabaga. But that’s a story for another day…
Thank you KRCL for granting me the privilege to juggle the black wax and spin the aluminum for the masses for an incredible 1/3 of a century. In media that streak is almost unheard of.
Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives June 26, 2021 Playlist – 33 Years of Reggae Radio
- Black Uhuru – Party Next Door; Anthem (Island) ’83 – E.T. Thorngren rmx
- I Roy – Heart Don’t Leap; Keep on Coming Through the Door (Trojan) ’71 comp.
- Phyllis Dillon – Midnight Confessions; Midnight Confessions (Treasure Isle) ‘72
- Dr. Alimantado – Oil Crisis; Born For a Purpose (Greensleeves) ’73 comp.
- Jimmy Cliff – No Woman No Cry; Music For My Mind (Warner Bros.) ’74 Bob Marley cover
- Peter Tosh – Legalize It; Legalize It (Columbai) ’76 4:20 Cannabis Service Announcement
- Judy Mowatt – Black Woman; Black Woman (Shanachie) ‘76
- Lambert Douglas – Jah Jah No New; Babylon a Fall Down (Trojan) ‘77
- Wailing Souls – War; Very Best of (Greensleeves) ‘78
- Aswad – Playing Games; Hulet (Mango) ‘79
- Culture – Natty Dread Naw Run (Shanachie) ‘79
- Carlton & the Shoes – Love Me Forever + version (Studio One) ‘79
- Marcia Griffiths – Steppin’ Out of Babylon; Steppin’ (Shanachie) ‘79
- Junior Delgado – Row Fisherman Row; Sisters and Brothers (Magnum) ‘79
- I Kong – Life’s Road; The Way It Is (VP) ‘79
- Misty in Roots – See Them a Come; Live at the Counter Eurovision (Kaz) ‘79
- The Morwells feat. Bingy Bunny – Cut Them Down; Kingston 12 Toughie (RAS) ‘79
- Mikey Dread – Barber Saloon; Evolutionary Rockers (Dread at the Controls) ‘79
- Rita Marley – Who Feels It Knows It; Who Feels It Knows It (Shanachie) ’80 Bunny Wailer cover
- Bob Marley & the Wailers – Coming in From the Cold; Uprising (Tuff Gong) ‘80
- Bunny Wailer – Mellow Mood; Sings the Wailers (Mango) ’80 Bob Marley cover
- Steel Pulse – Jah Pickney (R.A.R.); Tribute to the Martyrs (Mango) ‘80
- Sisters Jam – People of This World; Rockers International (Greensleeves) ’80 female duo
- The Skulls & the Mercenarys – Third World + Third World Shuffle; Black Slavery Days (Clappers) ’80 comp.
- The Love Joys – Wherever Jah Send Me; Reggae Vibes (Wackies) ’81 female duo
- Cedric Myton & the Congos – Where He Leads Me; Face the Music (VP) ‘81
- Garland Jeffreys – We the People; Escape Artist (Epic) ’81 NY rocker
- Twinkle Brothers – Longing For You; Me No You (Twinkle) ‘81
- African Head Charge – Stebeni’s Theme; My Life in a Hole in the Ground (ON U Sound) ’81 Afro-dub w/ female vox
- Lacksley Castell – Government Man; Morning Glory (Negus Roots) ’82
- Gregory Isaacs – Cool Down the Pace; Night Nurse (Mango) ‘82
- Musical Youth – Pass the Dutchie; 12” (MCA) ‘82
- Bad Brains – The Meek; Rock For Light (Caroline) ’83 DC punk/reggae
- Sister Carol – Jah Is Mine; Black Cinderella (Jah Life) ’84 update of McCartney & Jackson Girl is Mine
- Burning Spear – Jah Is My Driver; Farover (Heartbeat) ‘83
- Peter Tosh – Reggaemyelitis; Wanted Dread & Alive (Rolling Stone) ‘81