Daa’iya El-Sanusi (271466)
Credit: Contributed

In today’s divisive political climate, listening to public radio can be unnerving. Although we want to stay informed, we often feel powerless when we hear details of how our democracy is deteriorating with no clear plan of action in sight.

But there was one radio show, Saturday mornings, that actually helped calm our spirits. It was called “First Light/Gardens of Tranquility & Contemplation,” and the host was the late Daa’iya El-Sanusi.

Daa’iya hosted “First Light/Gardens of Tranquility & Contemplation” on WHCR-90.3FM, Saturday mornings from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. for the past 15 years. She was affectionately known as the “woosah” lady on WHCR.

Saturday mornings, whether it was raining or sunny, WHCR listeners were quietly awakened by her melodic voice that was full of wisdom and insight. She opened her show with a soothing morning meditation. It was like the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down.

We were heartbroken to learn that Daa’iya transitioned Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018, which was the 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year (when you add 2+0+1+8, it equals 11).

I am sure it was part of her plan to leave us on a day that according to Foreverconscious.com was a powerful day in numerology for healing and alignment.

It is befitting that an unforgettable person would leave us on an unforgettable day. We will remember her trademark larger than life Afro, the smile that put you at ease and the way she would call up historical facts as if she had a spiritual guide whispering in her ear.

After she helped us breathe deeply and calm that vagus nerve, she would play musical treasures from jazz such as Reggie Workman, Tyrone Birkett, Al Jarreau and Nina Simone as well as up and coming artists such as Sheryl Renee and Kahlil Kwame Bell.

She was well-respected in the jazz community for giving a platform to jazz artists. Rome Neal, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Ty Stevens, Antoinette Montague and a host of other jazz greats were regular guests on her show. 

One of the things Daa’iya was proudest of was spearheading a  collaboration between the International Communications Association and WHCR-90.3FM in celebration of  International Jazz Day. April 30, 2016, at a ceremony at the Dwyer Cultural Center, awards were given to WHCR Jazz hosts Lamon Fenner, Nelson Rhadames, Tammy Shoji, Quadir Perez and Daa’iya in honor of WHCR’s 30th anniversary.

But Daa’iya’s shows weren’t just about meditation and jazz, she brought years of journalistic experience with her to WHCR. She was a researcher and co-host on “Afrikaleidoscope” on WBAI, hosted by the late Elombe Braith.

“She researched background information on countries and guests from the motherland,” said Cinque Brathwaite, son of the late Elombe Braith. “Her research skills were impeccable and she brought a calming spirit to often troubling information.”

According to award winning author and journalist Herb Boyd, Daa’iya also worked with Imhotep Gary Byrd on WLIB and WBLS. “But what I will remember and cherish most are those moments with her on WHCR, where her Saturday morning shows were required listening for those interested in community affairs and those activists on the front lines, politically and culturally,” said Boyd. “Behind her dazzling smile was a lovely voice that never failed to speak truth to power. I will miss that and her warm and generous commitment to our struggle for total liberation.” 

WHCR will host an on-air tribute to Daa’iya during her showtime this Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. You are invited to come to WHCR to share your memories of Daa’iya with our listeners. You can also call in at 212-650-6903.

For a host of messages in her honor, visit her Facebook page at Daa’iya El-Sanusi. 

Details on her homegoing service will be posted as soon as they are available.