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San Diego declares June 21 'Slow Jams Day'

 June 20, 2024 at 1:53 PM PDT

S1: Hey , San Diego , it's Andrew Bracken in for Jade Hyneman. Today we're talking about slow jams. And here from a famous San Diego voice , bringing them to listeners ears for 30 years. This is KPBS Midday Edition. Connecting our communities through conversation. Okay. It's time to slow things down.

UU: It's Sunday night. You. Monday night Sunday night slot. It's Sunday night. I wanna hold you tight.

S1: You might know that jingle from a little radio show called Sunday Night Slow Jams. And let's be clear , little is an understatement. It's broadcast on more than 200 radio stations across 17 countries , and the voice behind it is RW , aka Randy Williams. He broadcasts every Sunday from his home studio here in San Diego. He plays five hours of slow jams and love songs as listeners call in and dedicate songs to their special someone. And get this , he's been at it for three decades. Over the years , Slow Jams has acquired quite a large fan base , and here's some voices you might recognize.

S2: This is Bruno Mars , and you're checking out Sunday night's slow jams with our dub.

S3: This is Mariah Carey with our dub on Sunday night. Slow jams.

S4: Yo , this is your boy John Legend and y'all checking out Sunday night slow jams with our dub.

S1: But the latest fan is actually San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria , and he's declared that June 21st tomorrow is officially Slow Jams Day in San Diego. So to honor the show's 30th anniversary , Mayor Gloria invited RW to City Hall last week , and RW joins me in the studio right now. Our dub welcome to Midday edition.

S5: I was hoping to get out of a parking ticket , but apparently the mayor does not have that kind of juice. But it's great to be here today. Thanks so much for having me. This is this has been a great week. Very exciting. So yeah.

S1: I mean , what was that like to kind of meet with the mayor and get that sort of receptions for Slow jams day ? I mean , it was incredible.

S5: I think the last time I went to City Hall was to pay another parking ticket. So to actually be there to to be a guest of the mayor was fantastic. I think my biggest surprise was just how much time he spent with me and how engaged he was. I had no idea what I was in for. I imagined it , you know , might be pretty rushed. Handshake picture. Get out of here. And he was as chill as my slow jam show. I mean , we talked about the music and he told me his his love for Anita Baker and and he listens to our radio station here in San Diego. So it was a it was a nice day. Okay.

S1: So let's talk talk slow jams. Break it down for me. What gradients are essential for a great slow jam.

S5: I mean , here's what's amazing is really it's kind of like the old adage beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I mean , really the listener , um , you know , they determine what a slow jam is. I used to be a slow jam snob , and , you know , a song had to be a certain BPM and had to be by an urban artist. And you see the t shirt I'm wearing now , that's a slow jam. I've had strangers who don't know who I am just come up to me and and tell me , not even know. I was the host of the slow jam show and tell me what they think a slow jam is. So I think really it's it's a song that's more down tempo , right ? Something you probably can't fast dance to. And it usually usually talks about love , but really a slow jam. There can be a country slow jam , there can be an R&B slow jam. Justin Bieber has slow jams. So yeah , no it is.

UU: It's our dub. Smoothing out your night Sunday night slow jam , Sunday night slow jam.

S1: So your show airs Sunday nights. And that feels kind of like the right slow jam vibe , right ? I mean , tell tell us about how it got started and why Sunday nights.

S5: I mean Sunday nights. To me , I remember as a kid , right. You kind of you don't want the weekend to end in Sunday night. You're I think everybody's faced with this grim reality. Oh , it's back to back to the real world tomorrow. Back to work. So , you know , I kind of talk about it on my show. Let's , let's really let's try to , you know , physically and mentally. Let's , let's slow it down and let's , let's take the last few moments of this precious weekend and savor them. And so , you know , we do that with , with love songs and with slow jams with , with dedications. Uh , started when I was a kid. I was 16 years old in Tucson , Arizona , and yeah , I told my program director , in fact , I have the note from my program director approving my my silly idea of , uh , of commandeering the radio station on Sunday night. I honestly think no one else wanted to work on Sunday night. And so I said , look , Mr. Program Director , can I get a little slot on Sunday ? Can I play love songs and take phone calls ? And he said , yes. And here we are three years later. This is like.

S1: An important document in San Diego history. I mean , the Sunday night slow jam is yours. Have fun with it. Don't worry too much about the format book. Wow , this is pretty crazy. This is pretty cool that you kept it. Use your common sense and make it huge.

S5: I keep everything. Um , but yeah , it's. You know , it's been such a love since I was a kid , I , I certainly didn't invent the format. I remember turning on the radio late night when I was just 13 years old , and I was I had always been a romantic at heart. I mean , starting super young , I was , you know , chasing girls around the playground in kindergarten , I think , and , you know , always crushing on girls. And I remember stumbling on the quiet storm on a local radio station and realizing , wow , all of. All of these songs , they're all love songs. They all speak to me , they're all special. And then the DJ came on and talked quieter. He had a smoother presentation. He wasn't yelling. There weren't bells and whistles and lasers going off. It was a different kind of radio. And then the callers and I just felt it was such a special bond. I myself as a listener , felt so connected with these late night DJs. And I said , look , I want to I want to do that when I'm older and lucky enough to start at super young and still be at it 30 years later.

S1: Well , and before we got started , you and I , we were kind of reminiscing about , you know , one of our favorite radio DJs. And you mentioned there that kind of special bond between the DJ and the listener.

S5: So , you know , one of my favorite things to do is , is be in the studio on Sunday nights and just answer phone calls. And I love the surprise of not knowing where where the person is calling from and what their message is going to be like , whether they're going through heartbreak or whether they're going through a great time in their life. I've had a call with people or a person who is celebrating , you know , ten years of sobriety. So , you know , being able to live through special moments and maybe sometimes tough moments with , with your listeners and , and honestly , just listen. And , and I think , honestly , I'm , I'm not a guy with a lot of talent at all. I'm a facilitator. So , you know , I think just being able to open up the phone lines and give the show to the people , it's it's not about me , really. It's about the music and it's about it's about the people. It's about listening and and letting them express their stories and other people listening to those stories. It kind of brings us all together.

S1: But it also kind of captures that old school radio vibe. And your voice is a part of that , you know , your low , soothing voice. Right ? So let's let's listen to a little bit. We have a clip here , a little of your show here.

S5: Uh , Sylvia , don't be nervous. It's just me and you and a couple million friends.

S6: And to have an amazing night. And I'm thinking about him so much. And not to forget to call me Sylvia.

S7: You're a beautiful person. Thank you so much for checking in. I thank your husband for listening along as well. And , uh , you call us anytime.

S1: So there , you know , get a sense of that , that connection you have with your listeners. I mean , can you share a couple other favorite moments , um , you know , from talking to callers ? Absolutely.

S5: You know , a lot of my callers are separated physically from , you know , the person or the people they love. And , you know , it takes me back to when I was a kid and I was , you know , separated from my loved ones. Uh , and , and , you know , I remember the joy of , of getting a letter from that person in the mail. I think it's , it's it's much the same thing. And so , you know , often , you know , I'll get a call from someone in Anchorage , Alaska , and their husband is serving overseas or their boyfriend is in , you know , Fort Myers , Florida. And and something about this show just just brings them together. One of my and this may be a little self-serving , but one of my favorite calls that happening more often now that the show has been on so many years , are from people who tell me the memories they have of listening to Sunday night slow jams as a child in the backseat of their parents car , and they explained to me that now they're the parent and they're listening , and now their kids are in the back also listening to the show. I'm like , wow , number one , I feel old. But number two , I thank you so much because , I mean , we're talking two , three generations now. And I just I feel incredibly grateful. Um , and then just , you know , again , just hearing from people of of how the show makes them feel or how the show has got them through hard times in the past.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. We'll be back after the break. You're listening to KPBS Midday Edition. We continue now with our Slow Jamz conversation with our dub host of Sunday Night Slow Jams. And you know , another aspect you mentioned , you know , being at this for 30 years , um , is how we listen to music has changed. So much has changed quite a bit.

S5: If anything , I think it , uh , it makes me and other radio DJs strive to to be even better and to foster an even stronger connection , because it used to be that , you know , obviously radio was pretty much only the only way to , to , to to consume music for free. And now there's a lot of other , uh , forces out there , um , you know , detracting from the attention of radio. So I think it's more important than ever , shows like Sunday Night Slow Jams , and there are many other shows , many other very talented DJs. I think it's forcing good radio , at least to go back to the roots and , and I think , you know , quote unquote good radio , the people doing it right or the ones that aren't just , um , throwing a bunch of music and commercials with no personality , they're going back to their roots. And that is literally , you know , speaking to the community and connecting listeners. So for me , it's it's forced me to to work harder and try to get better. You know , even though I've been doing this 30 years , try to make every show a little bit better than , than the last.

S1: But it's also , I imagine , about the interaction and like the curation too. I think a lot of times when you just , you know , put on Spotify , you're not getting these like different tastes of a different love song that I may not pick , you know , instead of listening to you , for example. So , I mean , you know , with that and how much music you listened to , what are some of your , you know , all time slow jams.

S5: So I'm happy to share with you , actually , the top three requested slow jams. Not necessarily my favorites , but I certainly do love them. The top three requested slow jams over the last 30 years. You've got , I mean , a classic of all classics , Heat Wave , Always and Forever.

UU: And Smash Away , Melt All My Heart. Away with a smile. I say , which I mean , I think.

S5: People will still dance to it Proms for generations to come. I think many of my listeners will probably conceived to that song. Uh , Casey and Jojo , all my life. I mean , just a wedding classic.

UU: And I would never find another lover. But what you think you. More precious than you. The girl you love most to me , you like. Close to me like my father.

S5: And Keith Sweat. Nobody.

UU: I wanna clean you. I want to show you many. Dad , I need you.

S5: And those have been the top three requested songs. Um , my tastes are a little bit more eclectic. Um , but there is a , there's an R&B singer that I'm just just gaga goo goo over since I was a kid named Albee Shaw , and he had some big hits in the late 80s and early 90s. I wrote I wrote al fan letters as a kid. I wrote a lot of artist fan letters as a kid , but I wrote , I'll be sure , these fan letters , just professing my love for his music and how every , every one of his songs spoke to me. Um , not too long ago , I actually became Alicia's program director when I hired him to work for me at a Los Angeles radio station. So that's a whole nother topic. But that was so amazing for me because imagine your idol. Imagine you're your number one favorite artist of all time , and tomorrow you're now that person supervisor. And then they came to work late , and you have to call them in your office and and scold them. Be like , but it's I'll be sure. So I'll be sure. I'm a huge fan of I'll be sure. There's a gentleman named Alexander O'Neal just had his farewell tour , and I had to fly to London to see him because he didn't have any American dates. But Alexander O'Neill's one. All of the boy groups back there back then , Mint Condition , Boyz , two men , uh , Jodeci , H-Town , Tony , Tony , Tony , I mean , the 90s were just such an impeccable time for slow jams.

S1: Oh , yeah. I mean , yeah , we were just talking about it yesterday because I think , um , TLC just played at the Delmar Fair. Yeah. And my wife actually went to that. Um , so we were reminiscing here about some of those 90s kind of bands. I mean , they were.

S5: The girl groups , they were TLC , SWV , 702 and Vogue. It goes on and on and on. It was a great time for slow jams. We're keeping them alive. Some new slow jams comes out , come out every now and then as well. But we're all about the classics.

S1: Well , I mean , that sort of leads to my next question. I mean , how have slow jams changed since you started to today ? I mean , earlier , you know , we started out and you talked about just having this wide definition of what a slow jam is. So , I mean , yeah , like what ? How has it changed and what do what's a classic slow jam for a younger person today.

S5: So the most one of the most interesting stories ever. And you could you know probably I'd love to take credit for it on , on my show , but I think it's TikTok. But one of the biggest songs that the youth , quote unquote , the youth discover this last year was a song from Keyshia Cole called love. And , um , one of my best friends who was a mobile DJ and he does a lot of proms , he said they requested Keyshia Cole love , which is what , 15 , 20 years old ? And he said this entire sea of 16 year olds were singing every single word of Keyshia Cole love in unison.

UU: I was miss.

S5: So , you know , as much as I loathe some of the social media for , you know , whatever the negative drawbacks are. Um , TikTok particularly has played a great role of bringing some of these classic I mean , some of the songs are from the 70s and 80s and now the these the kids these days are rediscovering some classics. So I think that's the advantage of of good music. Really good music never gets old. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. No. And I think our producer Ashley is seconding. She loves that song as well. But you're right , I think social media has kind of opened up this new avenue for I remember the Fleetwood Mac thing kind of taken over a couple years down the.

S5: Skate , down the street and the skateboard. Yeah , exactly.

S1: It's a really , but I guess. Yeah , that's like a new route for discovering music that that really didn't exist when. When we were kids. Right. So , you know , you've again been hosting the show for for quite a while.

S5: I'm a workaholic , and that's not a brag or a flex. It's just a fact. I mean , I've , I , you know , I don't I don't have kids. I don't have a quote unquote , you know , family in the , in the general sense. Uh , I don't have a lot of time off. I mean , between my full time job managing a local radio station here in town and doing slow jams , and I actually do the show five nights a week. Um , I've , I've learned , um , hard work pays off. I'm starting to see some of the fruits of my labor. I've been able to travel a lot. Um , last year I finished my goal of seeing every country in the world. So all 193 UN nations were able to be be checked off. And I think a lot of that , honestly , is , is thanks to slow jams. Um , you know , it's provided kind of a , you know , I think I was doing the side hustle before side hustle was even a term. I was always doing kind of slow jams in the background. Um , you know , uh , next to my , my full time day job. So , you know , I've learned hard work pays off. I've learned , um , you know , if you stick with something long enough , you'll you'll you'll succeed. And I've also learned that , uh , the world has a lot of love to give. Um , sometimes it just takes a good slow jam to to bring it out.

UU: Down the line. Let's get busy filling. Sunday night. Slow jam Sunday night.

S1: Well , I really appreciate you kind of sharing some of your some of your memories of music and slow jams with us , but I'm going to , you know , I was going to say thanks for joining us and sign off here. But , I mean , it seems silly for me to do it. I want to hand it over to you , our dub. Take it away. Wow.

S5: Wow. Here we go. This is our dub , and I'd like to thank everybody for listening to slow jams. If you want to cruise by slow and check out what we have to offer. Request dedications. We call them oral expressions. The phone lines are always open. Looking forward to hearing from you and your loved ones and let us slow jam for 30 more years. Thanks for having me.

S1: Thanks so much for being here and against Sunday night slow jams on magic 92.5 on afternoons and Sundays at 8 p.m.. Thank you so much our dub.

S5: Thanks for having me. This was awesome.

UU: For me and my girl. For me. Yeah.

Ways To Subscribe
Slow Jams DJ, R Dub!, talks with KPBS Midday Edition host Andrew Bracken on June 18, 2024 at the KPBS Midday Edition studio. San Diego, Calif.
KPBS Staff
Slow Jams DJ, R Dub!, joins KPBS Midday Edition host Andrew Bracken at the KPBS Midday Edition studio on June 18 in San Diego.

For 30 years, the radio show "Sunday Night Slow Jams" has offered a soothing blend of love songs that captivate listeners across the globe.

To celebrate the 30th anniversary, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria has declared Friday, June 21 "Slow Jams Day." It's an homage to the show's enduring reach to audiences across 240 FM radio stations in 17 countries.

On Midday Edition Thursday, we slow things down with host and creator R Dub! to talk about the show, which he broadcasts out of his home studio in San Diego.