By Leslie McKesson
When Sam Tate is in the room, you can’t help but notice.
The quintessential radio personality, “Sam the Sham” Tate recently celebrated his 58th birthday in the broadcasting industry. Now a resident of the Lake James area, “Brother Sam”, as he is also known, is an experienced radio professional and founder of a nationally broadcast show called “Gospel Gems Oldie Goldie Black Gospel Show”. .
During his career, Sam has worked with big names in music including Otis Redding, James Brown, Jerry Butler, Solomon Burke, Joe Simon, Three Dog Night, Etta Baker of Morganton, Michael Jackson, the Five Blind Boys of Alabama, The Mighty Clouds. of Joy, Dr. Bernice King, popular local gospel group The Pilgrims of Faith and many more. He talks about “rubbing shoulders with the stars” as he hosted concerts, conducted pre-show interviews and traveled in celebrity circles.
Of course, Sam hasn’t always been in the spotlight. He was born in New York, where his father, Morganton native Sam Tate Sr., served in the Merchant Navy during World War II. Upon completion of his work there, Sam Sr. and his wife, Dora, moved their family back to Morganton.
Most families owned a radio in the 1950s, and young Sam enjoyed walking around the family farm talking into sticks and corn cobs while impersonating his on-air idols. DJs like John R. of WLAC Nashville would introduce R&B and black gospel music to their audiences, and Sam would practice his spreading style in preparation for a life behind the mic.