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Myles, Squalls win top awards at state radio awards

NATCHEZ — Jerome Myles didn’t know it at the time, but he set his life on track in 10th grade by simply raising his hand.

That is when Myles met Walter “W.J” Squalls and launched a three decade on air careet.

“I was at North Natchez High School, and we had a week for job shadowing,” Myles said. “This man walked into my class and asked who wanted to shadow him.

“It was divine from God that he would come into my class on that day.”

The job-shadowing program was supposed to last a week, but Myles said he just kept coming back, which pleased Squalls.

“I knew he had what it took to make it on the radio at the beginning of the week,” Squalls said. “He has that radio voice. When people are calling the show and asking who it is, then you know you’ve found some talent.”

Myles is the gospel disc jockey at WTYJ, and Squalls is the evening rhythm and blues disc jockey at the station.

Squalls said Myles’s talent wasn’t just behind the microphone. He was also adept at working the controls and keying up music.

“From the first day, he was doing everything basically right,” Squalls said. “I could leave the room or do something else because I knew he was doing it right.”

Now the talent the two men share behind the microphone has paid off on the big stage.

Jerome Myles received the Jackson Music Association Award for the 2010 Top Gospel DJ in the state of Mississippi.

Squalls was named the top R & B DJ at the same awards presentation.

“These are like our Grammys,” Squalls said.

Myles was also named top gospel disc jockey in 2005, and Squalls took home the top honor in 2004, but this year was special since they get to celebrate together.

“It is something spectacular that student and teacher won these in the same year,” Myles said.

For the pair, the awards are the proof of more than 80 combined years of experienced. Squalls has been on the radio for 53 years.

“So much has changed in my 53 years,” Squalls said. “When I started we were playing plastic 45s and 78s. When (Myles) started we were playing records, but now we’ve moved on to CDs and other things.

“But the music hasn’t changed that much.”

But it is also proof of what a strong mentor and dedication can bring about.

“I grew up near Minor Street,” Myles said. “There was always a perception that bad kids came from Minor Street, but that’s just not true.

“Because I raised my hand and this guy took an interest in me, I’ve been able to manage, engineer and be on air at this radio station. I don’t know what I might have ended up doing if he hadn’t walked into that room that day.”

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