Today, Sunday Night Slow Jams can be heard on over 190 radio stations across America and around the world and is one of America’s highest rated radio programs. The show features love songs from today and yesterday and special coast-to-coast dedications, called Oral Expressions. With a weeknight version of the show, the website slowjams.com, and its own 24-hour iHeart Radio channel, today R Dub! reaches over three million listeners each week. But it wasn’t always like this…
So how did it all start?
Sunday Night Slow Jams Time-Line:
June 1990 – R Dub!’s first exposure to the “Slow Jam.”
It happened by accident: late at night, as a 13-year-old R Dub! unpacked his prized clock-radio at his new home in Kissimmee, Florida. He’d just moved from Los Angeles and was scanning the dial in search of a Top 40 station like the one back home. Before he’d arrive at a pop music channel, he stopped at a station playing Troop’s “All I Do Is Think of You.” It was playing during The Quiet Storm on Orlando’s 102 Jamz. The song spoke to R Dub! and would change the course of his life in just under five minutes.
Now that R Dub! had discovered “Slow Jams,” and those Slow Jams “shows” on the radio, it was easy to become inspired by late night legends like Robert Morgan and Bruce B-Box of WJHM-Orlando, Mike Hudson of WGCI-Chicago and Kevin “Slow Jammin'” James of KKBT-Los Angeles. R Dub! became a student of the game, with professors that had no idea they were teaching this kid.
June 1992 – R Dub!’s first industry job
R Dub! had just moved from Florida, to Tucson, Arizona. He was just 15 and had a summer job working for a landscaping crew, where he’d move rocks and dig up cacti in 115 degree heat. It kicked his ass.
One afternoon R Dub! came home to his excited mother who’d just discovered a “want ad” in the newspaper for a “DJ.” A local mobile disc jockey company was looking for a new DJ to spin at parties, weddings, quinceañeras, etc. When R Dub!’s mom suggested he call and apply, R Dub! laughed and said, “No way! I have zero experience and they probably have professionals applying. Absolutely not.”
The next day when R Dub! returned home from another grueling day of manual labor under the Arizona sun, his mom informed him that she had called the company who was looking to hire the DJ, and talked to the owner all about her son…and had scheduled an interview for R Dub! As a 15-year-old boy who was smack dab in the middle of his “trying to be cool” phase, this was a nightmare! It was horrendously embarrassing to know that his “mom” called a potential employer for him. He was furious at his mom, and wanted to crawl and hide under a rock.
Needless to say, he took the interview. He didn’t even drive yet, so Mom dropped him off a block away. He got in line behind older, more experienced applicants, before finally being called in to meet the owner and be interviewed. The whole time R Dub! was a nervous wreck and still embarrassed that his “mom” had set this interview up. While the owner, Ron Coss, certainly was nice enough, R Dub!’s hopes weren’t high. He figured there was absolutely no way in the world he’d land this job as a professional DJ at 15 years old. Just impossible. These things don’t happen.
Three days later he received a call from Ron. He was hired.
The major life-lesson R Dub! learned here? To never, ever be afraid of a “no;” to always take the chance and to never let the fear of rejection stop you. He’d begin practicing this philosophy right away, and consistently throughout his life, as well as sharing his story with others, as a guest speaker at schools.
Fun fact: He was a horrible mobile DJ. Scared to speak on the mic, and absolutely technically un-savvy, R Dub! dreaded showing up for this gig every weekend, but knew it was a good stepping stone for his future in radio. He once ruined an entire All State Insurance Christmas Party of 400 people when the sound system failed mid-song and he couldn’t fix it. But owner Ron Coss was patient, understanding and an amazing coach, who never gave up on R Dub!
June 1993 – R Dub!’s debut on the radio
It was 2AM when a nervous 16-year-old cracked that mic for the first time, reading dedications and playing special Slow Jam requests on a new radio show called Nyte Flyte. The show was new to Tucson’s community radio station, 91.3FM KXCI and was created by Larry Watkins. The pay was $0.00/hour.
July 1994 – The First episode of Sunday Night Slow Jams airs on Power 1490
After presenting the idea of a four-hour Sunday night Slow Jams and dedications show to the Program Director of a small hip-hop station in Tucson, Arizona called Power 1490, R Dub! was given the opportunity to begin Sunday Night Slow Jams. The show soon became a hit in Tucson, as the city tuned in every Sunday night to hear the hottest Slow Jams and their special dedications. In the summer of 1995, Power 1490 changed format and the entire staff, including R Dub!, was let go. Sunday Night Slow Jams was done…for now.
May 1996 – Sunday Night Slow Jams returns on Power 97.5FM
After almost two years, and a move to Tennessee and back to Arizona, R Dub! finally had the chance to bring back Sunday Night Slow Jams. This time the station was Tucson’s Power 97.5FM (ironically, just up the road–on the same street as the defunct Power 1490). Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before this Power station changed formats too. It seemed it was hard keeping a Hip-Hop station around in this town, and in December of 1997, “The Power” was shut down.
March 1998 – Sunday Night Slow Jams returns on 93.7 KRQ
Luckily this time, Sunday Night Slow Jams was only off the air for a few short months, before R Dub! was able to make the show resurface on Tucson’s Top 40 leader, KRQ. With a full 100,000 watts of power, Sunday Night Slow Jams was now heard by more people than ever before, and soon became the city’s most listened to radio show.
February 2000 – Sunday Night Slow Jams introduces “Live” concert series and tour
Sunday Night Slow Jams LIVE! would debut at Tucson’s New West nightclub. The concert featured Divine, Uncle Sam and Silk, and would be the first of many live Slow Jam shows to bring the most requested artists from the show, to the stage, along with host R Dub!, reading live “Oral Expression” dedications to concert goers. The concert would later move to the Tucson Arena, and feature major artists like Keith Sweat, Babyface, Chris Brown, Trey Songs and more. In the coming years the tour would make stops in Phoenix, Albuquerque, San Diego and Wichita.
August 2001 – Sunday Night Slow Jams debuts on Hot 98.3FM
In 2001, the company that owned KRQ bought its rival, Hot 98.3FM in Tucson. With his love for Hip-Hop and R&B music, R Dub! moved over to Hot, and took Sunday Night Slow Jams with him. The show continued to dominate the city in the ratings and soared to new heights as it became more and more established over the years. (NOTE: Today in Tucson, the show is heard on 97.5 The Vibe. Make the switch!!!)
February 2003 – Sunday Night Slow Jams goes national
Not being able to sit still, R Dub! wanted to take the show to the next level. Having an extra room in a home he just bought, R Dub! dreamed of building his own radio-broadcast studio in his house and hosting Sunday Night Slow Jams from his very own home. After over a year of buying equipment, planning, and building, the “official” Sunday Night Jams studio was completed. By sheer coincidence, R Dub! had a couple friends that ran radio stations in other cities that were interested in having Sunday Night Slow Jams on their station. In late February of 2003, Sunday Night Slow Jams was delivered to the whole country…well, maybe not the whole country, but this was a start–the debut of the now syndicated Sunday Night Slow Jams show aired on three stations, including Hot 98.3FM in Tucson, Arizona, Maxima 99.1FM in Nogales, Arizona, and 101.5FM The Beat in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This was a life-long dream fulfilled for R Dub!, one that he had never in his wildest dreams ever expected to really happen.
May 2004 – Sunday Night Slow Jams signs a national syndication deal
As three stations turned into six, then six into twelve, and twelve to 24…Sunday Night Slow Jams was quickly gaining national notoriety. R Dub! was still doing everything by himself: Besides producing and recording the show, he was in charge of distribution (physically getting the show to all of his radio stations), affiliate relations (signing new stations up for the show), and every other facet of producing, growing and distributing a national radio show–something usually handled by a staff of ten. At 27 stations, Sunday Night Slow Jams was offered a syndication deal with Superadio, one of the country’s leading syndicates. Later, R Dub! would sign with an even bigger company, Westwood One, before partnering with Benztown Radio years later.
May 2007 – Sunday Night Slow Jams launches its own iHeart Radio Channel
Another dream of R Dub!’s, was to one day run a radio station that only played Slow Jams, and this dream too, came true. Along with fellow Slow Jam lovers Al B. Sure!, Kevin “Slow Jammin'” James, Lisa St. Regis, Xavier “The X-Man” and Victor Zaragoza, R Dub! launched his “Slow Jams Channel” on iHeart Radio, that would provide the sweet sound of Slow Jams to anyone, any time, any place. You can listen HERE.
Also inn 2007, R Dub! becomes Program Director of KHHT Hot 92.3 in Los Angeles.
July 2009 – The Book
Now that Sunday Night Slow Jams was heard on over 40 radio stations, many peers were looking to R Dub! for advice on how to syndicate their shows. R Dub! decided to share everything he’s learned along the way (especially the many mistakes) in an A to Z instructional book called, “Coast to Coast: The Radio DJ’s How-To Guide.” You can order the book HERE.
July 2011 – The Movie
Radio show? Check. Book? Check. Movie? CHECK! In July of 2011, R Dub!’s first feature film was released, at The Fox Theatre, in Tucson, Arizona. It was the story of the station where Sunday Night Slow Jams started, an ode to Tucson’s beloved Power 1490, an A.M. radio station that was the city’s favorite place for hip-hop and R&B music in the early 90s. The story of the radio station, its birth, and sad demise, is pretty incredible. R Dub!’s movie went on to be featured at over a dozen film festivals around the world, and even received a handful of awards. You can see the whole film here:
October 2013 – R Dub! appears on ABC’s Shark Tank
It was one of the most surreal experiences of his life. The doors opened and R Dub! walks down the long hallways with fish tanks on each side of him. He approached “The Sharks,” along with Brian McKnight, to explain the concept of Sunday Night Slow Jams to them, and eight million viewers. You can watch the full episode HERE.
While the Sharks didn’t bite, R Dub! did get a deal just three days later, from a private company who saw him on Shark Tank and believed in the Sunday Night Slow Jams. Dreams do come true! With the extra capital, R Dub! was able to invest in the show and hire his own Director of Affiliate relations, Mark Wilson, a seasoned pro from New York City who would soon help double the radio stations along with the team at Benztown Radio.
February 2014 – The Record Deal
R Dub! inks a deal with Universal Records and Thump to release “The Best of Sunday Night Slow Jams.” The CD is available online and at most Wal-Mart stores around the country.
May 2015 – Sunday Night Slow Jams reaches 100 stations
Hot on the heels of its Shark Tank appearance, less than two years later, Sunday Night Slow Jams reaches the mythical “100 Station” mark–a milestone few syndicated radio shows every reach. R Dub! threw a party at his house, inviting his affiliate program directors, friends and family from around the world, to celebrate with Slow Jams and a taco truck! Celebrity host Al B. Sure! rocked the mic for that special night and R Dub! cut the ribbon to christen his new Slow Jams studio.
Today R Dub!’s Sunday Night Slow Jams is heard on over 190 radio stations, in 14 countries. From Honolulu, Hawaii, to Anchorage Alaska, from Manila, Philippines, to Lagos, Nigeria Sunday Night Slow Jams has taken the world by storm and gave Sunday nights a new definition.
“I won’t stop until every town in every state in every country in the world can listen to Sunday Night Slow Jams,” says R Dub! “I want the whole world to be able to have a special place to come home to every Sunday night!”
Sunday Night Slow Jams is syndicated through Benztown, a web-based imaging solution, used daily by nearly 1200 radio stations and digital services. Benztown provides custom VO and imaging across all formats, including commercial VO and copywriting. Benztown Radio Networks produces, markets and distributes the highest quality radio programming like Sunday Night Slow Jams.
A note of thanks from R Dub!:
I can’t let this story be published without thanking the people that made my successes possible. One can only get so far without being lifted up by others. In no particular order, let me thank:
My listeners, without them NONE of this would be possible. Every single Program Director and radio station who has ever supported Sunday Night Slow Jams! Ron Coss and DJ Dyna-Mix, Tucson; Larry Watkins and 91.3 KXCI Tucson; Bruce St. James, Boogie D and KJYK Power 1490 Tucson; Elroy Smith and WGCI Chicago; Kevin “Slow Jammin'” James and KKBT 92.3 The Beat, Los Angeles; Robert L. Stewart, Louis Thompson and WKGN K-Jam 1340 Knoxville; Tom Hassey, Paco Jacobo, Rick Verdugo and KSJM Power 97.5 Tucson; Tim Richards, Mark Medina and KRQQ Tucson; James Rivas, Luis Alvarado, Frank Miranda, Kid Corona, Art Laboe and KOHT Tucson; Greg Ashlock, Michael Martin, John Ivey, Mike Marino and KHHT Los Angeles; Gregg Wolfson, Tracy Johnson, Joe Lindsay and Local Media San Diego; Kevin Carter and staff at RAMP; Joel Denver and AllAccess; Gary Bernstein, Rich O’Brien and Superadio; Max Krasney and Westwood One; Dave “Chachi” Denes and entire staff at Benztown; Mark Wilson, John Christian, Chuck Field and Focus 360; Pat Houston, Louis H. Fried, Carmen Cookson and every teacher from kindergarten to college who have taught me so much; my friends and family for all their continued love and support. Jeeze, I’m forgetting so, so many people…but please know if you’ve touched my life in any way, how grateful I am for you!