Driving through the Bronx on a Sunday afternoon, up Fordham Road, down the Grand Concourse to 175th Street to see my wife, who at the time was my girlfriend, I recall the sounds of Salsa and Latin Jazz blaring from passing cars, street corners, storefronts and open apartment windows. Most of them were tuned to the highest rated Sunday radio show in the NYC area, with over a quarter million fans tuned in from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm to listen to WRVR’s Sunday Salsa Show hosted by Roger Dawson. While WRVR struggled for ratings Monday-Saturday in a fiercely competitive radio market, from 1976-1979 the Sunday Salsa Show boasted a loyal multi-ethnic audience and blazed a trail for local and international stars.
During its reign, the popularity of Salsa and Latin Jazz exploded, and Dawson, who was not Latino, was affectionately referred to as “Rogelio.” In fact, Chino y su Conjunto Melao honored him with his theme song, Rogelio Tiene La Salsa. Dawson’s influence on the local music scene cannot be overstated. He introduced his Salsa Meets Jazz series to the Village Gate in Greenwich Village, which paired a jazz soloist with a salsa band each Monday night, propelling the sales of salsa albums.
When WRVR abruptly ended jazz programming in 1980, the demise of Roger Dawson’s Sunday Salsa Show was perhaps the greatest loss to the New York audience. Although the show moved to AM radio, due to the lack of stereo and poor quality signal, the program never regained its tremendous popularity. However, Dawson remained active on the Latin Jazz scene, both promoting and producing for local bands and concerts, and performing as leader of his own band. Here is a sampling from Rogelio’s show on WRVR from 1979. Please send me your requests for future Sunday Salsa Show tributes.
How can we hear this old tape SIR? Roger Dawson Sunday Salsa please
I’m only aware of the clips on YouTube, but maybe some of the fans of the old station would be willing to share.
Suffice it to say Roger Dawson @ WRVR-FM Radio was my primer to Salsa. I LOVED his program and would tune in without fail each and every Sunday. Not only was the music terrific, Roger would educate his audience about the performers, the Latin music scene and where live music events would be taking place. So not only did I get to enjoy the music, I learned about the rich cultural contribution of the Latin community.
Well said Bonnie. The Sunday Salsa Show was a gift to the listening community.