Suga 95.7 FM: The First Licensed Jamaican Radio Station in the US

by Howard Campbell

Suga 95.7 FM: The First Licensed Jamaican Radio Station in the US - Dwayne Williams
Dwayne Williams

FORT MYERS – When Dwayne Williams arrived in South Florida from his native Jamaica in 1978, he got an instant taste of culture shock. The region’s small Jamaican population, it seemed, had forgotten their roots.

“Everybody talked like an American, and I would ask them why aren’t they being more Jamaican,” Williams, who is from Montego Bay, recalled.

Today, he operates Suga 95.7 FM, an independent Jamaican radio station in Fort Myers with a 24-hour, all-Jamaican format. That includes reggae from different eras, a gospel show and talk program that discusses issues affecting the Jamaican community in Florida.

Williams boasts that it is the first Jamaican radio station in the United States granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Williams said he first applied for a license in 1996 but it was not until 2015 that his fledgling organization got the go-ahead.

Suga Reggae Fest

On August 4, the radio station presents Suga Reggae Fest at Centennial Park in Fort Myers. The event marks Jamaica’s 62nd year of independence (which takes place on August 6), as well as the upcoming 10th anniversary of FCC recognition.

Dwayne Williams - Suga 95.7 FM: The First Licensed Jamaican Radio Station in the US
Dwayne Williams

“I would say that’s our biggest accomplishment, receiving that license. I never understood why Jamaicans didn’t own their radio stations, because we have the strength, we have the capabilities,” said Williams.

Although having a broad presence for many years in the tri-state area and South Florida, Jamaican broadcasters made their names by ‘brokering’ slots on stations such as WVIP 93.5 FM in New York and WAVS 1170 AM in South Florida.

Mykal Rose, the Grammy-winning singer, headlines Suga Reggae Fest. A J Brown, Collin Roach, Mr. Easy, Round Head, Clement Irie, Kruechef, and Oliver Mair, Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami, will also perform.