A personal reflection
By Novice Johnson
If you were in Florida any time within the last 50 years, there is a good chance you heard Chico the Virgo on the radio. Sylvester Wesley had a love for broadcasting as early as his high school years growing up in Broward County. He took on the name Chico the Virgo, and there was a radio legend in the making.
When Chico entered college at Florida A & M, he didn’t know that he and Joe Bullard would begin a legacy that would take him from Tallahassee back to his roots in South Florida. Chico didn’t know back then that he would become a radio icon, a radio personality who would win awards and honors, a local celebrity who would be sought after to host community events or concerts or Night club sets. He didn’t know that 5o years later he would establish a foundation and designate Sickle Cell Anemia as the main platform he would support. He didn’t know that he would be Roasted and Toasted by some of South Florida’s most loved personalities who would applaud him for his years of radio, but also for his compassion for the community.
To kick off his newly formed foundation, The Sylvester Wesley Foundation, Chico invited a few of his radio colleagues, family and friends to mark his 50th Radio Anniversary. Thanks to Covid-19, the group had to be small and socially distanced. There was so much love and respect – and a reunion of sorts, as Chico’s appeal for donations to support Sickle Cell Anemia was his passionate call. James T, Jerry Rushin, Julian Dr. J. Wright, Shelby Rushin, Paula Sunday Morning Joy, Lady D., Fred Moseley, Duke Ellington, Cedric Hollywood, Martha and Keith Frye, were among those from Radio and Records days, who came to support and or Roast and Toast him. Community leaders such as Dr. Valerie Wanza, Robert McKinzie, Bobby Henry, Ed Haynes, Dale Holness, Karen Smith, and others, were among those at Smitty’s Sistrunk, to bring greetings. Phil, Maestro, Missy, Rodney Baltimore, Jill Tracey and the staff of Hot 105 radio showed their respect with on air mentions of the Friday Night Park event, where the community had a chance to donate to Sickle Cell Anemia as they jammed to old school music. Chico’s brothers of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated were there with presentations and brotherly love to top it off.
Continuing to celebrate, Hot 105’s James T. said, “I know this is a Roast, but I will not take jabs at Chico tonight, I will give him his just due – and I’ll watch everyone else, like Jerry Rushin rake him over the coals.” Jerry Rushin took his jabs for sure, but the overlying admiration and respect for Chico as a radio personality and a community servant, kept peeking through. Bobby Henry came with a donation in hand, and challenged the rest of us to donate to Sickle Cell Anemia, a disease that plagues people of color. Time just didn’t allow everyone to speak, but the memories that were shared and the love from his wife Veronica and family added to the festive evening. And, if the great food and hospitality from Smitty’s and hostesses, Kassandra Gainey, Rosene Fye Farris and Catherine Minnis wasn’t enough, Ms. Butterfly Vaughns herself, presented a special Spoken Word piece written especially for Chico. What a way to have a Roast and Toast. And, yes, that was Chico that you saw on NBC6 TV Voices with Jawan Strader, talking about his 50th radio anniversary and the need for us to support Sickle Cell Anemia also.
As I look back, I can remember phrases like, “ 6 foot four, legs kinda bow with a lil’ afro, I ‘m Chico the Virgo! and Tell everybody Chico’s on!” It is hard to believe that he is celebrating 50 years of his radio career. He has sat in the presence of Congressmen and women, Pastors and ministers, Community Leaders, business owners, the community as a whole, and a very impressive list of celebrities. Through it all we know that he loves us, and we continue to tune in to hear the legendary Chico the Virgo. Many years ago, when I started my career in radio as a news reporter, I worked along with, James T., Chico, Dr. J., and Joe Fisher to name a few; they taught me well. So as the celebration of his 50th year in radio ends, I shout it loud and proud, and I still “TELL EVERYBODY, CHICO’S ON!”
The Westside Gazette reminds you that If you would like to support Sickle Cell Anemia and the Sylvester Foundation, you can donate now; at https://gofund.me/5bb35e 08.