by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – Thirty-five years is quite a stretch to be in one job, but for John Tyrell “John T” Hodgson, hosting John T On The Morning Ride on WAVS 1170 AM Radio is a career high point.
John T’s is one of the most distinctive voices on South Florida Caribbean radio. From Monday’s to Friday’s at 7-10 am, the Jamaican broadcaster gives listeners a blend of music, current affairs and sports as well as traffic reports on his long-running show.
Re-inventing himself, and the program, have kept longtime fans in tune and won a new generation of admirers.
“After spending 35 years at WAVS Radio, my show has certainly evolved from an all-music show. I incorporate news, sports and traffic updates. We have also replaced records with CDs and thumb-drives,” said John T, who moved to South Florida from Jamaica in 1984.
Growing Up In Trelawny
John T was born in Trelawny, a parish in western Jamaica, a farming area famous for yams. It is also the birthplace of sprint legend Usain Bolt with whom he shares the same alma mater, William Knibb High School.
Growing up in rustic, rural Jamaica was not easy.
“It was rather challenging. I had to carry water on my head in the mornings before going to school and on weekends along with other boys in my district I had go look wood (for cooking, etc). This was a norm for boys,” John T recalled.
Because his mother and two of his uncles played the piano, he developed a love for music as a pre-teen.
“Along with my siblings we would stay up late at nights singing while they played. I grew up listening to John Holt, Ken Boothe, Delroy Wilson, The Heptones and The Wailers,” he said.
John T joined the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) in 1972 and served for 12 years, 11 months leaving with the rank of detective sergeant. Even as a police officer, he was intrigued by broadcasting.
Journey to the Broadcast Booth
“My first influence in broadcasting came from the late Jeff Dixon aka Free I, Winston Williams and Desmond Chambers while in primary school. I was formally trained at an in-house training program at WEXY Radio and Piper’s High School where they had a broadcasting program,” he disclosed.
When John T moved to South Florida, the region lagged behind New York, Los Angeles and Toronto in terms of a reggae presence. Clint O’Neil, Winston Barnes, Eddy Edwards and Denver “Jamusa” Silvera were prominent voices on Caribbean radio.
The reggae live show circuit has also experienced a transformation for the better, John T noted.
“The reggae scene in South Florida has changed a lot. More local artists are now getting the recognition they deserve by getting airplay and shows,” he said.