Fri | Jul 19, 2019

Dorraine Samuels’ death marks end of an era

Published:Wednesday | March 27, 2019 | 12:31 AMNickoy Wilson/Gleaner Writer
February 27 1987 - Dorraine Samuels

Late broadcast legend Dorraine Samuels, the beauty queen-turned-programme host who made radio her kingdom for almost four decades, has been showered with praise by Jamaicans of all walks of life.

Samuels, a widow and mother of three, died yesterday at age 59 after battling cancer.

The loss of the soothing timbre of her voice, chatty style and bubbly personality signals the end of an era when Samuels and Alan Magnus ruled as morning monarchs on the airwaves of RJR for decades.

The RJRGLEANER Communications Group, of which RJR and TVJ are part, issued a statement shortly after Samuels’ passing.

“It is with a deep sense of sadness that the immediate family and the RJRGLEANER Group family of broadcaster Dorraine Samuels announce her passing. Dorraine had surgery in recent weeks and we have been praying for her recovery.”

The statement continued: “However, she lost her battle with cancer this afternoon (Tuesday). We request the respect of privacy at this time. We continue to hold her family, friends and colleagues in our prayers.”

Described as a consummate professional, Samuels entered the field of broadcasting in 1981 after participating in a beauty pageant.

“We initially discovered her in the Miss Jamaica World contest when she did her recordings for the presentation and the work on the contest itself. She obviously had an outstanding ability to articulate and she had a beautiful voice and she pretty well knew how to use it, and her English was very good,” said Don Topping, who was supervisor of announcers when Samuels joined the company.

Toppin said that while on the job, Samuels was a model employee.

“She was very cooperative, ready to learn, very pleasant personality, she wasn’t difficult to deal with or anything like that … ,” he said yesterday.

“She was quite engaging. People warmed up to her easily. She didn’t make people feel inferior or anything like that. She had a very pleasant personality and, as a result, the interviews she did on the air were easy and relaxed,” he said.

Soon after joining the radio station, Samuels became one of RJR’s main news presenters and started to host her own programme.

During the 1980s and ‘90s, she would engage her fellow broadcaster Magnus in banter as they ushered in each other’s programmes.

The broadcast couple, dubbed ‘radio’s royal pair’, began hosting their own programme in the early 2000s, but that did not last long, as the two were separated in 2006. They were reunited on air once more in 2008.

During this time, too, Samuels would make her debut as anchor of Television Jamaica’s (TVJ) nightly news programme ‘Prime Time News’ in 2004, joining veteran broadcaster Michael Sharp.

Sharp, who anchored the news programme with Samuels for 11 years, said he admired her high level of professionalism.

“Consummate professional. Dorraine was the doyenne of the business of broadcasting. She was always prepared; she treated every newscast like it’s the first or last she’ll ever read – just her approach – never relying on the fact that I’ve done this before, I’ll do it good tomorrow,” Sharp said yesterday in an interview with The Gleaner hours after news broke of Samuels’ passing.

“She insisted that things be in place in terms of how to get the job done. But when they weren’t, she still did a great job,” he added.

Broadcast journalism trainer and former radio personality Alma Mock-Yen praised Samuels for being a role model to aspiring broadcasters.

“She set such a wonderful example as a broadcaster for young Jamaicans and aspiring broadcasters to follow. She was the same standard. She maintained the same standard, no matter how ill she was. We didn’t get an inkling of it, and that was truly amazing,” Mock-Yen said.

In January, Samuels ended her news anchor reign on TVJ, but continued presenting news on RJR and hosted her morning programme, ‘Dorraine’s Coffee Break’, until a few weeks ago.

nickoy.wilson@gleanerjm.com