A radio station doesn’t usually have the same DJ on for 20 years,” said Makeda Dread in 2003, the 20th anniversary of her Reggae Makossa program on 91X.
On May 18, Dread’s run as producer/host of the show was interrupted for the first time in 25 years. She says she was given a three-week suspension because her staff showed up late.
Since mid-May, the all-local Loudspeaker show, which normally airs from 1 to 3 a.m. on Monday morning, has filled Reggae Makossa’s 8 to 10 p.m. Sunday slot.
Last week, Dread said she planned to resume the show on June 8, but she also indicated everything wasn’t right between her and 91X.
“A lot of people are really pissed,” says Dread. “They say that 91X is not answering them when they ask why the show isn’t on.”
Someone who answered the phone during the June 1 Loudspeaker show said that Dread was on vacation. Dread says 91X’s new regime may not be as supportive of a reggae show.
“I’m not just a personality; we bring a lot of money to the station.” (Dread co-promotes the annual Tribute to the Reggae Legends show…formerly Bob Marley Day.) “[A lot of personnel] has left the station. They have really different policies now.”
Chris Behar, manager of local reggae band High Tide, agrees that “…there is a personal conflict between 91X management and Makeda,” but he says his band’s music gets played on Loudspeaker more often than on Reggae Makossa.
“With Reggae Makossa you get reverse racism,” says Behar. “White guys playing reggae never got the same support as the more traditional reggae bands.” Behar says that if Loudspeaker were to replace Reggae Makossa, “[91X] would be in a position to play every kind of music.… My feeling is 91X is moving into a younger direction.”
A call to 91X program director Phil Manning was not returned.
The Arbitron ratings service shows that among locals aged 18—49, 91X is the fourth-most-listened-to station during the Reggae Makossa show; overall, during weekdays, the station ranks in 13th place.
– Ken Leighton