Pat McKay, quenching Reggae thirsts for decades


By: Janice Dayle

patmackayjohlegend_2.jpgPat Mckay's distinctive 'radio voice' is one that she raises at Sirius Satellite Radio; not only as the 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM programmer for Channel 97's Reggae Rhythms, but also as Programme Director for both 'Reggae Rhythms' and Channel 68 - 'Praise.'

"I am hitched to the Blackberry 24/7 and 365 days," Pat told YardFlex as we snuck a chat in between her manning a myriad of operations. With a staff that is also round the clock, accessibility is key, she said.

Well versed in the history of Reggae as it developed internationally, Pat herself has achieved many radio firsts as a person of Caribbean descent in the US. Her fondness for music developed into her realizing childhood fantasies of being a team player in radio-land. As the first person of Caribbean descent to have programmed a 24/7 nationally broadcast music format in the US, first for Music Choice (both their World Beat and Reggae stations) and currently for Sirius Satellite Radio - Pat told YardFlex, that becoming a DJ was her childhood games turned into reality.

"Before car seats and because I was the baby, I got to sit in the middle facing the radio; and especially on long car trips to Toronto or Florida, from New York; I would be the family DJ." Developing imaginary friendships with radio personalities was a natural progression for Pat who had become the self appointed family selector.

Starving for sounds of Jamaica as a teen returning to New York after living in Kingston and attending Alpha Academy; the 'sports and music buff' gravitated to a Ken Williams owned club, where her first taste of being Master of Ceremonies, had her hooked on the microphone. Taking over for Ken, who lost his voice one evening, to introduce the band 'Chalice,' was the beginning of something that has propelled Pat to a historic position in 'US Reggae Radio.'

Becoming a Reggae Ambassador through college radio programming in 1983 and as a frequently called upon MC for major Reggae concerts featuring great acts like: Black Uhuru, Michigan and Smiley, Denroy Morgan and Sister Carol, was a natural progression. And Pat's expertise in the field of Reggae was soon in high demand, leading to stints as consultant and narrator on films, televised features and print articles; in addition to numerous international stage appearances and productions featuring her as the subject.

"It's a service thing...I work for Reggae lovers wherever they are," the mother of two teenaged sons said, of her steadfast dedication that has seen her pumping Reggae music on commercial radio in the US since 1986. Keen on realizing an improved visibility for Caribbean culture, Pat aims at continually beefing up her progressive contribution to the representation and inclusion of the rich Caribbean culture in all media.

Her undiluted Reggae vibes have been alive on air in New York ever since she initiated the first ever all Reggae show on general market radio called, 'The WBLS Reggae House Party.' She was a part of the WBLS and sister-station WLIB/1190AM/NY, family until 2004 and has lent her voice-power to KISS FM, WRTN, WNYE, IRIE FM, WBLS, WQXR, WRKS and WLIB.

"Life has its ups and downs 97 reggae rhythms is one of the ups," is how one Reggae Rhythms Station ID reads. Checking out the non-stop Reggae programming generated at Sirius with Pat at the lead is guaranteed to give you 365 days of commercial free Reggae in all genres and from every era. It is really an uplifting experience.