If this were another country he would have been regarded as a media industry giant, as much for his contributions to radio and TV as for the fact that he is a self-made man. Alas, here the media fraternity has always been last to embrace and celebrate its own, let alone document their achievements for posterity. Where accolades have been dished out, too often the reasons have been difficult to discern.
David Samuels, “The Chairman,” remains one of the few broadcasters who had their start in the early 70s. His working life began as a teacher at the St. Aloysius RC Boys School. He dabbled a bit in entertainment and it was as a result of his singing and stage performances—in particular his appearances in St. Lucia Talent on Parade (STOP) and LiveWire, when he also MC’d—that he landed a job with Radio Caribbean International and later Radio St. Lucia.
As with many broadcasters of that period, Samuels learned to be a “master of all”: to rock the listening audience with fast-paced drive time music shows, then to present the news with the seriousness and authority the job demanded. He also hosted classical music shows and outside broadcasts, all with the finesse of the true professional. This was at a time, unlike today, when proper diction, pronunciation and articulation mattered. As for the sound of his voice, it remains to this day distinguished for its special clarity and tone.
While Samuels continues in broadcasting as “The Chairman” on Calabash TV—the programme was first aired on RSL—and has established himself as commendable interviewer, for many years he ruled the airwaves as “Dave the Rave,” an immensely popular radio DJ. His stated intention, which he intoned to his fans as only he could, was: “This is Dave and I’m here to make you my musical slave.”
Dave Samuels has always been a man of ideas, and likes nothing better than sharing information and knowledge. He is also a talented radio producer often unacknowledged for the variety, music and talk formats he created. Remarkably, although he made a mark for himself with his entertainment productions, Samuels has always been partial to talk/interview shows. In the late 70s and early 80s, his Saturday afternoon show, though primarily musical, also featured related information previously unknown here, an indication of his capacity for research.
Even when he transferred to the tourism sector, he maintained links with the media. It was largely because of his efforts as an entertainment manager that many local performers received exposure previously denied them.
On leaving the sector he opened St. Lucia’s first video production house and PR agency—Dave Samuels Productions—one of his signature products being a three-dimensional map of St. Lucia that doubled as an advertising vehicle. A later version included a booklet “St. Lucia in Your Pocket.” The map and booklet were the first of their kind in St. Lucian advertising history. You could say Samuels was ahead of his time, but it was thanks to his efforts that many St. Lucians got their start in the field of video production. Some went on to establish their own companies. Samuels and DSP occupied the advertising spotlight for use of E-BON . . . then used as the tag line for a Piton beer ad. The phrase remains in popular use by St. Lucians for anything regarded as superlatively wonderful.
Dave quietly avoids the limelight as he goes about doing what he does best. His brilliance in broadcasting and entertainment is immediately obvious, as is his commitment to excellence. For that alone we should all be happy to give Mr. Chairman deserved respect. If he comes across as knowing something about everything there’s good reason for that. He does!