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Skin Deep
by Reggie Lavong
Reggie Lavong (1933 to 2017) was an American radio disc jockey, executive and stockbroker. Reggie Lavong was born Reginald Jerome Nelson in Gainesville, Florida, USA, on April 5th 1933. His mother Honey died when he was two years old, and at four was adopted by a cousin, Mae Lavong, who lived in Brooklyn, New York City, with her husband Walter. After graduating from Boys High School there, Lavong (as he was legally renamed) attended City College in New York, then Temple University in Philadelphia where he studied journalism and worked at 'WRTI', the campus radio station. That led, during the 1950s, to jobs at 'WHAT' and at the flagship station of 'Rollins Broadcasting', 'WAMS' in Wilmington, Delaware. Subsequently, the company sent him to another radio station in Chicago, where he became immersed in the sound of the 'blues' music which would later feature large in his life. In the late 1950s, the disc jockey Tommy Smalls was making a name for himself at 'WWRL' in New York (as 'Dr Jive'), and through his popular afternoon show and promotional work on concerts he helped establish 'R&B' in the New York market. When Smalls was sacked for taking bribes in 1960, Lavong saw an opportunity there for the taking himself. He rang the station for an audition, drove to New York for it and was immediately installed as the new 'Dr Jive'. Although the focus of the station was primarily 'R&B', he did vary his musical offerings, playing 'oldster' music in the early afternoon. He would switch to youth appeal material when schools finished later on, and after the evening news would change back to the 'blues'. Later in the 1960s, he returned to Philadelphia to work at 'KYW', and in 1964 became part owner of a television station, 'WPHL'. In 1968, he released a musical recording of his own called "Skin Deep" (a spoken-word 'cri de coeur' about racism, which is featured here). In 1969, Lavong joined 'Capitol Records', promoting 'R&B' at a time when the genre was very popular - later in the 1970s, he also worked for 'Island Records' and for a subsidiary of 'MCA Records'. He then took a late-career switch into the financial world, working for Shearson Lehman Brothers as a stockbroker and accountant. Reggie Lavong died from complications of an infection in Philadelphia on September 19th 2017, aged 84. He had married Joyce Hightower in 1954 (she died in 2013), and he is survived by their daughter plus another daughter and two sons from other relationships. http://www.urbanradionation.com/2017/09/reggie-lavong-radio-dj-music-exec.html
Sources: http://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/29/obituaries/reggie-lavong-smooth-voiced-dj-dies-at-84.html
Posted: 20th October 2017
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† REST IN PEACE †
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away every year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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