Mr. Tony Carr used to hang out at the West Indian Record Mart (a record store in Washington, DC) in the 1970’s. The record store was owned by his friend Ricky Hillocks. At that time, there were two Caribbean programs . One was John Blake WHUR and the other Vonn Martin WPFW. Both owners were Trinidadians. Tony, Ricky and another friend, Bobby Newby, felt that the Reggae played on those two stations, did not represent Jamaica and what was played was only popular in Trinidad. The stations did not play Reggae they wanted to hear.
Ricky and Bobby suggested to Tony to call all radio stations to see if they were interested in playing Reggae. Tony was given the task of compiling all the radio stations and calling all the radio stations. But they knew that a lot of them weren’t going to play reggae but decided to call anyway.
After a few days of calling several stations and getting no positive answer, low and behold, one answered – the owner of WHFS(a commercial radio station in Washington, DC) -Jake Einstein. Jake said he was interested and they couldn’t believe it! They finally were on to something – a medium for real Reggae music to be heard. Tony met with Jake and was delighted to hear that Jake was looking for someone to play Reggae. He offered the position to Tony right there on the spot!
However, the stipulation was to pay $100 per hour. Rick pitched to sponsor for a little while. Jake agreed and Tony asked who’s going to do the program. They laughed and said “YOU’RE GOING TO DO IT!” Tony said “You’re crazy. I don’t know anything about radio.” They said do it and assigned Tony an engineer to control the board. Tony followed his instructions and was successful.
Tony was on air for about 4 months; but Rick could no longer for the sponsorship. It was challenging because during those times, there was little Caribbean business.
Tony made a move and went to WPFW to volunteer and learn how to run the board and all successful radio production and on air specifics. He hung out with the program director. Although Jazz was the station’s format, Tony had a plan. He told the PD that he can play Jazz just as well. After a few months, Tony along with Sidney White, were invited and given a time slot 1am – 7:20am. In those days you needed a license and Sidney had a license to run the board.
After a few weeks, Tony decided to put his plan in action and decided to play Reggae from 5am – 7:30am to see what management would say. But apparently, they never listened to the station that early. He didn’t know how many listeners were listening until the first membership drive. Tony raised set the record raising a lot of money. The station manager called around 7am yelling about him playing Reggae. Tony told him that the phone is going crazy from so many calls and membership pledges.
The director called and was furious. Tony explained that many are listening, and he raised over 700 dollars.
Later in the week, Tony got a call to come and see the director and general manager. At the meetings, it was confirmed that he raised the most that was never raised before on the station. This is how his popular show “THIS IS REGGAE” was born. Tony’s own time slot 11pm – 1am- technically was the first all Reggae radio program in Washington, DC. Tony was there for three years.
Later on, Kathy Hughes had a Reggae program on WOL and invited Tony Carr – as he was highly recommended- to do a Reggae program on her commercial station. Tony was there for yet another 3 years. It’s 1986 by this time. It would have been longer’ but the station didn’t know how to market the Reggae program.
Tony thought his days in radio was over. He go over to WHUR and helped John Blake as a studio engineer but wasn’t on air.
By this time, WPFW had about two reggae shows. Then it dwindled to one. One day Tony got a call from the WPFW in 1989. The program director met with Tony the next day. He said he heard he was at WHUR and he has to suspend a dj for playing discriminatory music against gays. Protesters were even outside daily. He offered Tony to come on for 3 months. Tony was there for a few weeks and fundraising came around again. Tony raised more money than even the dj on suspension.
Since then, it has been Tony Carr and his popular THIS IS REGGAE SHOW on WPFW for over 41 years (December 9, 1979) highlighting artists and spreading Reggae music. He has accumulated thousands of loyal listeners in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia) and across the globe on numerous platforms.
Mr. Tony Carr is a wonderful addition to the ISLAND WORLDWIDE family
Event Timeslots (1)