Don Sam – The Legendary Voice of Houston Radio Celebrates 40 Years

When it comes to Houston radio, you would have to have been living under a rock to not recognize the smooth and distinguished voice of legendary Houston radio on-air personality and production expert, Don Patrick Samuel Sr. (affectionately known as Don Sam or the original DS).

This year, the radio icon is celebrating 40 years in radio.

Sam has a silky-smooth baritone voice and his knowledge of Zydeco, vintage R&B, soul, funk and modern music is second-to-none, as he remains one of the crown jewels of radio in the Greater Houston area, continuing his “Memories and More” radio program and much more.

Sam began his professional career at KYOK Radio in Houston in 1973 and was employed there for seven years, and spent another 32 years at KCOH Radio as production director and radio personality before moving to KJOZ Radio, and then on to where he is now – KYND Radio (1520 AM) in Houston.

Sam’s desire and love for broadcasting blossomed at the tender age of ten. It is something he said he always wanted to do. Sam states that he wasn’t always the confident radio personality he has become, and that it took him some time and having mentors to get where he is today.

“Overcoming my personal fears, my shyness and being overly critical of myself, were some of the biggest challenges I encountered when I started in radio,” said Sam. “Rick Roberts, who taught me how to professionally develop my voice and paint pictures with words to captivate my audience, helped mentor me a great deal. I also learned a lot by listening to many air personalities such as Paris Eley, helped me learn how to entertain and have fun doing so.”

Sam is a testament of what can happen to an individual when the power of God transforms their lives. A book was even written about his life, centered on his decision to change and refrain from his self-destructive lifestyle of the abuse of alcohol and drugs, and becoming empowered to tap into what he was destined to do in life – radio and production.

Since that time, not only has Sam been an inspiration, but he has demonstrated himself to be an outstanding radio personality and one of the most remarkable commercial producers in the Greater Houston market and in other markets across the country.

Sam produces numerous commercials for radio and television – locally and nationally. Having a great rapport with his listeners, while producing commercial ads that run across the country, both on radio and TV, have been some of Sam’s most rewarding experience since being in the radio business. In addition to that, his passion to entertain and educate his listeners on his daily air shift with a different show every day, has kept him on the cutting edge in the music industry.

Sam’s loyalty in demonstrating excellence in broadcasting has earned him numerous awards.

When it comes to the one thing he has done over his career that he believes defines his overall legacy in radio, Sam is most humbled by being voted on by his peers with the Young Black Programmers Coalition as the “AM” – Radio Announcer of the Year in 1988 – winning the award over several nominees representing many states across the entire United States. He has been the only African American AM radio announcer, selected from the city of Houston, to receive this prestigious honor.

Sam has also been nominated for the Texas Radio Hall of Fame three consecutive years, and his other awards include the Creole Heritage Zydeco Legend Award; Houston’s Annual National DJ Awards; Texas Music Library & Research Center – “Radio Announcer of the Year” Award; Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church Bazaar Award; Lorraine Hunter Award and the most recent award presented to Don Sam was being chosen by the Houston Press Magazine as the “Best Radio DJ in the City of Houston in September 2011.

Sam has had a distinguished and unique radio career that others have attempted to emulate across the Greater Houston area and the nation – but there’s only one Don Sam.

“Having the mindset to be engaging with my listeners and demonstrating that I love what I’m doing, while giving my audience a different show every single day, has allowed me to stand out amongst my peers in the industry,” said Sam. “For instance, I played Zydeco music when it was not thought to be popular music here in Texas. Now, several other stations and radio personalities play Zydeco music. I also created several unique specialty shows, such as artist showdowns featuring top rank recording artists pitted against one another, with the winner being determined by the listeners’ calls. No one else was doing these things before I originated them.”

With his impressive resume, Sam has given back and has served as a mentor to many other radio personalities and production professionals, many of whom are on Houston Radio currently.

When it comes to giving back to aspiring individuals who are thinking about going into radio or production, Sam says, “Be prepared, work hard, stay relevant, be innovative and be able to take constructive criticism.”

The Forward Times salutes legendary radio trailblazer and Houston icon, Don Sam, on his successful 40-year career in the radio business.