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Clint O'Neil -- one of US's greatest reggae radio DJs -- RIP

Posted by solid rock 
solid rock
Clint O'Neil -- one of US's greatest reggae radio DJs -- RIP
October 15, 2004 12:55AM

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Clint O'Neil, host of radio reggae program
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By Thomas Monnay
Staff Writer
South Florida Sun-Sentinel

October 11, 2004

Though reggae was en vogue in Europe and New York in 1979, Clint O'Neil
had to convince radio officials at WLRN, FM 91.3, of the music's
popularity so they would put his Sounds of the Caribbean program on the
air. But with a charming voice, hard work and a passion for music, he
was able to grow the Miami-based show from one to seven nights a week.

Mr. O'Neil, 60, died of colon and lung cancer at 2:48 a.m. Sunday in his
Miami waterfront apartment. He was widely regarded as the "godfather" of
reggae in South Florida, working tirelessly for its acceptance and
collaborating with local artists to promote Caribbean culture.

With his death, the future of the radio show he started on a Sunday
morning 25 years ago is unclear.

"We called him the godfather of Caribbean music," said Don Daly, a
longtime friend. "The future of the show is very uncertain. It's going
to be very difficult for anyone to come in and fill his shoes."

Ted Eldredge, station manager of WLRN, said officials would meet this
week to decide whether the program, now from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesdays
through Saturdays, and 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. Sundays, will remain on the air.

"It's hard to say," Eldredge said. "We knew he was ill, but we really
haven't talked about the future."

In the meantime, Eldredge said, Kevin "Ital-k" Smith, who has been Mr.
O'Neil's partner since 1996, will replace Mr. O'Neil temporarily. Smith
has been filling in since Aug. 14, when Mr. O'Neil had to stop coming to
work.

Smith said it would be fair to let him continue the show permanently in
hopes of preserving Mr. O'Neil's legacy.

"I call him a legend, and to me he is Joseph of the Bible," Smith said.
"The right thing to do would be to continue the show."

Mr. O'Neil eventually became a household name in South Florida's
Caribbean community, but it wasn't easy for him to get the show started.

Daly, who has hosted a variety show for 18 years on WVCG [1080 AM]
radio, said Mr. O'Neil had to educate WLRN officials about reggae's
popularity and the need for Caribbean musical programming in a community
luring immigrants from Jamaica, Trinidad, Haiti and other Caribbean
countries.

But once he was granted airtime, Daly said, Mr. O'Neil did such a
magnificent job that station officials agreed to keep him on the air
seven days a week. In November the station reduced the show from seven
to five days a week.

Mr. O'Neil, who was born in Jamaica, came to the Bronx, N.Y., at age 14
or 15, said Faith Donaldson, Mr. O'Neil's sister.

Mr. O'Neil grew up around music and musicians, but it was reggae legend
Bob Marley who encouraged him to become a radio host, Daly said.

Marley pushed him in that direction because, Daly said, "he had such a
great voice."

So Mr. O'Neil hosted a music show for several years in New York before
moving to South Florida in 1978.

"Bob Marley was a frequent visitor with Clint on Sounds of the
Caribbean," Smith said.

In his Public Radio program, Mr. O'Neil featured reggae, calypso,
Haitian kompa and Caribbean oldies. Plus, he helped promote others by
allowing younger disc jockeys and artists to perform live on his show.

"They would do the music, he would do the announcing," Daly said. "He
encouraged everybody. He opened the doors, and he did it in a very
unselfish manner."

Mr. O'Neil was diagnosed with cancer last year. On Sept. 10 he received
proclamations from Miami-Dade County, the State of Florida and the
government of Jamaica for his contributions to music and for promoting
Caribbean culture, Daly said.

Through the Clint O'Neil Needy Kids of Jamaica Foundation, Mr. O'Neil
raised funds to help children with books, school supplies, clothing and
scholarships, Daly said. "He was very energetic, and he loved people."

Mr. O'Neil is survived by four children: Karen Siddons, 36, of Altanta;
Clinton Siddons, 34, of Atlanta; Crystal Siddons, 16, of Pembroke Pines;
and Leeza Siddons, 11, of Miramar. He also leaves sisters Hope
MacDonald, of Georgia, and Donaldson, of Montego Bay, Jamaica.

The family plans to announce funeral arrangements later this week.



Copyright (c) 2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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Re: Clint O'Neil -- one of US's greatest reggae radio DJs -- RIP
October 22, 2004 11:19AM
crucial station lost a great. thanks solid 4 info. i have recorded numerous hours of his shows and especially the sundays dub show at 1am, when i lived in miami I would base my sun nights around that show completly. it is also a shame how wlrn has been treating ital k. i hope by now that they are letting him air more reggae. the station for the most part silenced him, and for the thousand of hardcore reggae listeners they didnt care about. they were only playing talk crap and of course great jazz sets.and he was as far as i last know, was fighting that issue.
hope the riddims comntinue as well as Mr. O'Neil's memory.
Re: Clint O'Neil -- one of US's greatest reggae radio DJs -- RIP
April 14, 2006 06:14PM
the person that u r talking about , who u already know is my dad n iam 12 now bout 2 b 13 on aug.please e-mail me bacital j wrote:

Re: Clint O'Neil -- one of US's greatest reggae radio DJs -- RIP
April 14, 2006 09:40PM

The tape I heard changed my entire perspective of what Clint O'Neil called,"Dusty Diamonds". Three hours of Waggy T(sp?) playing the best of rocksteady and Studio One with very modern turntable technique. Superb.
Spirit lives forever!
sideways
Re: Clint O'Neil -- one of US's greatest reggae radio DJs -- RIP
April 19, 2006 04:33PM
ya want me (ital j) to email u or someone else?
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