By: Janice Dayle
Ushering in the 90s with the first eclectic Caribbean music radio programme to be aired on commercial radio in New York, the indomitable Dahved Levy marked the beginning of what literally became 'Caribbean Fever,' with radio audiences and his colleagues alike.
Filling YardFlex in on the day he was invited to mainstream radio at WBLS 98.7 KISS FM, the trailblazing Barbadian born Levy said that besides his strong command of reggae, soca and the general music scene, "It was the catch phrase 'Rocking You' that really got me recognition."
One night, as the seasoned young concert promoter and college radio
personality hung out with Programme Directors (PD) backstage at a KISS FM sponsored Bobby Brown and Shiela Easton concert, opportunity knocked; and Levy was in the right place at the right time. "Red Alert was late," he explained, "and the PD at KISS at the time said to me – 'You know what, you always talk a lot of crap; go up there on stage and bring up Bobby Brown.' – and I did." Neither Levy nor the PD had any idea what was about to transpire.
"I said – Madison Square Gardens, this is Dahved Levy – and the entire crowd shouted in unison; ROCKING YOU, ROCKING YOU. This was my trademark phrase used in my many radio commercials and at that moment I realized how well known I had become," Levy expounded. And he was not the only one amazed at the instant recognition from the audience that evening, the PD was also blown away to the point where he wasted no time to offer Levy his first mainstream radio spot saying, "Dam...you start your own radio show on Monday morning."
Levy has been blazing a trail ever since on commercial radio, taking his penchant for bringing the cultures of the Caribbean and all music to the world - on a fast ride to the top. In a short four weeks his brand new KISS FM show went number one for its time slot, prompting other mainstream radio programmers to take notice and begin including Caribbean programming in their content. In short, Levy's impact on the airwaves influenced the huge acceptance Caribbean culture now enjoys in media.
Consistent in bringing the heavyweights in Hip-Hop, R & B, Reggae, Soca and Dancehall together on stage and in broadcasts for New York audiences; the quick witted and lyrically fit Levy has been unmatchable in both areas.
He became the first radio announcer/DJ to host three separate shows on different radio stations simultaneously in the New Your market; since 1993 saw him pile on commitments at 105.9 FM WNWK and 107.5 WBLS FM & 1190 WLIB AM.
On other historical notes, Levy became the first person to not only start the ball rolling for that triggered Shabba Ranks' huge success; he also was the first promoter to bring Beres Hammond and Buju Banton to Madison Square Gardens and Radio City Music Hall and partnered in producing the only annual All Star Mothers Day Festival that featured Reggae, Soca, Calypso and R&B, at both venues.
"I got into promoting early and as a student at City College, did parties at Red Zone, alternating two days with Bad Boy's Puffy," Levy told YardFlex in his charismatic, striking tone. A successful fundraiser for the newly expanded City College radio station further opened Levy’s eyes to not only his own immense capabilities, but also to the lucrative possibilities of the music business; and his party planning got more serious and intense.
Levy had come a long way from his childhood days in the Caribbean and England, where he also spent some formative years. He reflected on those youthful days when he would make a habit of mimicking radio announcers and pretend to be a pilot addressing his passengers from the cockpit. Convinced that he would one day be on radio, Levy said, "I even entered and won a Franky Crocker sound alike contest when I first came to live in the US."
Known as the radio personality 'without borders,' Levy makes every effort to not only satisfy his diverse audience but to also completely understand his programme content by immersing himself in the cultures he presents through travels and research. Presenting with no hype, no profiling, but just plain humility and eloquence Levy continues to deliver first rate cultural information because he says, "I am a citizen of the Caribbean and I love all of what the Caribbean has to offer."
Continuing with his multi-tasking busyness, Levy is currently engaged in preparations for the highly anticipated Madison Square Gardens, Machel Montana headlining show; coming up on March 28, 2008. He will also be presenting Buju Banton on Mothers Day this year. Check out his global activities at www.caribbeanfever.com