Best Reggae Radio Program (2006)

Throwback Thursdays with Walshy Killa, MIXX-FM, 96.1

Fret not thyselves, reggae fanatics. Even though Mixx 96 has been down recently, the station is destined to make a return to the airwaves soon. You haven't heard his familiar voice recently, but Leighton P. Walsh, the DJ better known as Walshy Killa, is still on the air, and Throwback Thursdays will be rocking your boombox again very soon. Such is the irregular life of a pirate-station superstar. When Walshy isn't able to perform his duties as an on-air jock on Miami's best Caribbean radio station, he tours the world with the DJ sound system Black Chiney, bringing island vibes to parties all over the world. This year alone, he's already been to Trinidad in the heat of Carnival, then to England, then to Bermuda. "It's not glamorous. Don't ever think it is. Now that I've traveled, I would trade what I'm doing to stay here," the modest selector says. Although he loves being on Mixx 96, Walshy aspires to go mainstream, to have a show on one of the big three urban stations, perhaps. If they would step out of the box to hire a DJ like him, that is. "I don't have any formal mainstream training, but what I do have is my acquired skills and my ability to communicate with people," he says. Ah, that explains it. That lack of instruction has made him the friendliest, most down-to-earth DJ on the dial today. He hasn't yet become a cog in the corporate machine. He hasn't had to deal with studio pimps. Right now Walshy Killa is still free to be himself. For those who haven't experienced Throwback Thursdays yet, be forewarned. The show might not resonate with folks who didn't grow up in the Caribbean, or who didn't listen to dancehall reggae during their formative years. Walshy spins the tracks the people want to hear, like Shabba Ranks's "Roots and Culture," or Dennis Brown's "Silhouette," for example, and then launches into hilarious anecdotes for the folks who remember going to annual school bazaars, when gangsta wannabes sported "bullethole suits," and the Bogle and Butterfly were big in the dance. "I love Throwback Thursdays more than anything, because I'm 29, and it brings back memories. I really do believe that I have a great, great talent of getting how I feel across to people. So I'm like, yo, do you guys remember this? And when I play the song, I remind them of what they were doing at the time, how they were dressing, what clubs they were going to, and what dances they were doing. The people really respond to that. And I'm always shocked to find out how many people were right there, where I was at," he marvels. Walshy was born in Miami and raised in Jamaica. As a youth, he traveled extensively, and it gave him an appreciation for other cultures. "That's why I love the other islands so much. I want to learn everything about them, because I was blessed to understand from young that the world is bigger than my little world." For that reason, he chooses not to adopt a strong Jamaican accent, slipping into straight Yankee, singsong Trini, or lilting Grenadian when he sees fit. For the people who aren't familiar with Mixx 96's blend of community chatter over classic reggae tracks, the constant interruptions can be annoying to say the least. But for migrants who want their voices heard, it's vital and important. Callers get angry when the DJs don't take enough on-air calls. "On my show, I do my very best to include everybody and let them know that where they are from is the best place on Earth," says Walshy. One of Throwback Thursdays' most memorable moments took place when he was sick, coughing, raspy, and somehow still hosting the show. Between selections by Garnett Silk, Freddie McGregor, and Eek-a-Mouse, Walshy asked callers to share their native cold and flu remedies with him. "People were calling in with some wild, wild stuff!" he exclaims. "One Trini lady called in and said I needed a Ôcowboy,' which is a sponge bath. Another guy called in and said I needed to mix babash (moonshine bush rum) with corn soup. When you hear that stuff, you just say, man, the islands are the best. Yo, for real -- the people from the islands are the best."


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