Montana native and resident Doug Wendt has received the prestigious Ralph J. Gleason Award from the Rex Foundation in San Francisco with a letter that reads “The grant represents the Rex Foundation’s Ralph J. Gleason Award in recognition of your work in bringing Reggae and World Beat music to the American public throughout your storied career as host, producer, journalist, DJ, VJ and promoter of that genre. The Ralph J. Gleason Award is in memory of music journalist Ralph J. Gleason, a major figure in the advancement of music in America in the 1960s, whose openness to new music and ideas transcended differences between generations and styles.” Gleason co-founded Rolling Stone magazine.
The Gleason Award was last given out in 2012. Previous grantees have included Pete Seeger, Michael Franti, Ornette Coleman, Los Lobos, Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Sun Ra, Charles Brown, Mike Seeger, Chris Strachwitz, Allen Toussaint, Jorma Kaukonen, Diane di Prima, David Murray, WWOZ-FM, and other individuals and organizations. (www.rexfoundation.org/awards/)
From the Rex Foundation’s website: “Doug Wendt has been one of the most influential people in the country in bringing Reggae and World Beat music to the American public. He began his career in the Bay Area as Host & Producer of the pioneering commercial radio reggae program The Reggae Explosion on KTIM AM & FM in San Rafael, CA from 1974-1977. Since then he has both hosted and produced various commercial and public radio reggae programs. Doug worked as a journalist contributing articles to Beat Magazine and other publications as well as penning liner notes for reggae recordings issued by Island Records, Heartbeat/Rounder, Putumayo and other labels. He was instrumental in promoting many popular reggae festivals and films. Aside from all of his work as a DJ, VJ, journalist and consultant he has accumulated an extraordinary archive of live and recorded reggae and world beat music and videos which he has been in the process of digitizing for posterity. The funds from a Rex award will help him continue to convert his vast personal library of music to digital form.
The Rex Foundation has no paid board members. Virtually all of our grant recipients are selected through the personal knowledge of our decision makers – as a result, grant requests are not solicited. We have no application forms and no published guidelines. Grants are made once or twice a year, and our report is published annually. Since 1984 the Rex Foundation has granted $8.9 million to over 1,200 recipients.”
In Wendt’s thank-you letter, also posted on the Rex website, Doug wrote “Mr. Gleason was a huge inspiration to me when I first moved to San Francisco in 1968 to get my Masters Degree in film making at the SF Art Institute. I am extremely honored, humbled, and happy to be recognized and assisted in my life’s passion in this way… Reggae and World Beat represent a renewed dignity, purpose, and influence to their respective fields not seen since Ralph was in his heyday… Thank you from the bottom of my heart.” (www.rexfoundation.org/grantees/doug-wendt)