The first day Michelle Hylton arrived at York University, she was invited to make a guest appearance on the campus radio station CHRY 105.5 FM.
She wandered into the station’s office looking for information on her new surroundings when disc jockey, Rupert Sterling, known as Delroy and Speedy to friends and colleagues, was attracted to her voice.
He encouraged Hylton to co-host his weekly two-hour show, Mix Supreme, and she became a permanent fixture for the next four years until graduation.
Sterling, who paved the way for several young people to work in community radio, died last Sunday.
“Delroy took me under his wings and taught me how to use the studio equipment and become comfortable in front of a microphone,” recalled Hylton, who is in the health care sector. “He was a strong proponent of young people getting an opportunity in the business…He knew and loved his music and he was one disc jockey that was proud to play Canadian-made reggae music.”
CHRY station manager Danae Peart said Sterling was selfless as a radio host.
“The industry is male-centered, but he gave women a chance to spin music,” she said. “He was always jovial and a great person to be around in the workplace where he would announce his presence with a little dance and jig.”
Educator Luther Brown said Sterling willingly offered to host his Caribbean Crucible show whenever Brown as unavailable.
“I found Delroy to be deeply caring,” Brown added. “He cared deeply about reggae and he had a good sense about music.”
The fourth of 10 children born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, Sterling was a member of a musical outfit – Sun Jet – before becoming a disc jockey at the Sea Wind resort where he met keyboard player Dwight “Duke” Dawes who became the musical director for award-winning local singer, Sonia Collymore.
“I got to know Delroy through Dwight and he managed me for about two years and promoted my debut single, Breathe,” said Collymore who is now married to Dawes. “Delroy provided me with the break I needed by playing my music and I will be eternally grateful to him for that. Once he believed in your project, he worked tirelessly to boost it. He was fun to be around even though he was always in a hurry.”
After touring Europe in 1980, Sterling returned to Jamaica and worked as a tour guide for a German company before migrating to Canada. He was a part-owner of Soul Celebrity sound system and a CHRY volunteer before joining the station full-time in 1995.
The former Top Ten Records owner and 2003 Canadian Reggae Music Awards (CRMA) Disc Jockey of the Year winner started the Reggae Music Achievement Awards five years ago after the CRMA folded.
Sterling is survived by his wife and two children.
By RON FANFAIR