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Walk good, Dorraine

'A difficult day' as country, colleagues mourn death of beloved broadcaster

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

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Beloved veteran broadcaster Dorraine Samuels died yesterday, plunging the RJR/Gleaner communications group and the wider Jamaica into mourning on what her Radio Jamaica colleagues described as “a really difficult day”.

Samuels, who was battling cancer, passed away at University Hospital of the West Indies. She was 59.

Immediately following RJR's 2:00 pm news, the station announced her passing after which senior journalist Earl Moxam and his colleague Milton Walker, group head of news, played voice clips of Samuels from the station's archives as they reflected on her career which began at the station in 1981.

“She was one of our main readers for radio news; she had become pretty much a staple for Newsline Seven in the morning and the 12 o'clock news for radio, and also, for about 15 years, was co-anchor — first with Michael Sharpe and then Archibald Gordon — for Prime Time News,” Walker said in reference to Television Jamaica's 7:00 pm newscast.

Moxam noted that Samuels “came into RJR not through the newsroom but she became the voice of RJR news in so many respects because she started doing the newscasts from very early in her career” at the station.

Moxam also said that the radio audience attached themselves to Samuels' voice and then her personality as she went through the various phases of her career reading the news, presenting her own shows in the morning and her partnership with now retired broadcaster Allan Magnus.

Sunday Magazine, Jamaica Today, The Good Morning Jamaica Show, on which she joined Magnus, and Dorraine's Coffee Break were some of the programmes she presented.

Walker said that the last three months were difficult for the RJR team as they knew that Samuels was ill. “Dorraine was a tough person and worked up to three Fridays ago, and many persons just would not know, but she soldiered on,” he said. “She was so dedicated, so committed; in fact, some of us wondered if coming to work, continuing to work was kinda like therapy for her [to] help her get through this difficult process as she battled on. It's just a really difficult day for us.”

He said that many people had been hoping and praying. “In fact, just this morning we had prayers at 9:30 at Broadcast House because we've had a number of persons who have been ill and a couple persons have passed away in the last couple weeks,” Walker said.

He named Magnus's wife Kerry, who worked at Power 106 and who died last Friday, as well as one of the group's drivers who passed away.

Another veteran broadcaster, Don Topping, who retired a few years ago, was interviewed by Moxam.

Topping recalled that he met Samuels when she made her vocal presentation as a Miss Jamaica World contestant in 1980. “Her vocal ability and quality of her voice and texture and everything just came over naturally,” said Topping who, for many years, was regarded as one of the best radio broadcasters and who used the moniker 'El Numero Uno'.

As news of Samuels's passing spread, Prime Minister Andrew Holness expressed sincere condolence to her family and friends on behalf of the Government.

“Her sincerity, integrity, and significant contribution to broadcast media are unparalleled. We pray with the RJR/Gleaner group and the entire media fraternity in this their time of sorrow,” Holness said in a post on his Twitter page.

Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said she reflected the best of the Jamaican personality and was a person of warmth, fairness, balance and basic decency which mirrored the best of who we are as Jamaicans.

“An entire generation grew up with her voice in the mornings and she represented the authentic source on which they could depend to deliver the news at various times of the day,” Phillips said.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange described Samuels work on radio and television as outstanding and said her contribution to Jamaican media has been exceptional.

“This feels like the loss of a member of the family. I believe that is how many Jamaicans saw Dorraine — she was like family and we admired, appreciated and loved her. We share this great loss with Dorraine's family and colleagues and I ask that we keep them in our thoughts and prayers,” said Grange.

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) said that Samuels's passing has left a significant void in the profession.

“With nearly four decades in the broadcasting business Dorraine was the consummate professional, presenting the news flawlessly. Despite her illness, she continued her duties up to days before her surgery,” PAJ President George Davis said, adding that Jamaica has lost one of the most talented broadcasters in the business.

“Dorraine was one of the few broadcasters who was able to seamlessly move between the media of radio and television. She was not only a broadcaster, but someone who also worked tirelessly to aid the less fortunate,” Davis said.

He noted that the PAJ twice recognised Samuels for her exemplary service — first in 2004 along with Magnus, and in 2012 as one of five “News Anchors of Excellence” recognised during National Journalism Week.

The Media Association Jamaica extended condolence to Samuels's family and said she is “remembered for her bubbly radio personality on The Good Morning Jamaica show with co-host Allan Magnus, and later in her career on Dorraine's Coffee Break which endeared her to Jamaicans of all ages”.

The Jamaica Teachers' Association (JTA), too, extended condolence to Samuels's family and the family of Kerry Magnus.

“We regret their passing and continue to extend our best wishes, condolences and prayers to their immediate families, listeners of the RJR/Gleaner Communications group, their colleagues in the broadcast industry and friends,” the teachers' union said, adding that the JTA and the JTA Cooperative Credit Union have benefited from Samuels's talent and Kerry Magnus's services”.

Samuels, who retired in January this year, is survived by three children. Her husband — actor and tourism executive Karl Binger — pre-deceased her in 2011.


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