Truly one of the saddest stories we’ve ever written in Radio Factsand a lesson to radio DJs and entertainment pros to never leave your fate in the hands of others with the advent of technology. For Black radio djs, the pay has always been less and the tragedies numerious. Hopefully, Laverne’s story is the teacher’s instread of the lesson.
A former St. Louis Radio DJ was forced to eat the peanuts she didn’t sell that were leftover at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. When she didn’t have any peanuts she would pretend to be a guest and eat at the local hotel buffets until she was busted by employees and thrown out when trying to stuff food in her purse.
LaVerne Holliday, 60, died penniless and sick from an aggressive form of breast cancer on June 3. She lost her job as a popular host of a jazz show on WSIE at Southern Illinois University in 2002. Shortly thereafter, she had to take care of her mom who died in 2005.
Holiday lost her health insurance and was then diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She fought cancer while trying to get back on the air. She was very eager to get back on the air friends stated but she could not. “Nobody was hiring her,” recalled a friend, Robin Boyce. Radio is a hard business, she said, “especially for African-Americans.”
Holiday hit her radio peak in the late 90s and early 2000s. She was raised in the old Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in north St. Louis. She, her sister and three brothers lived with their mother, who was a housekeeper and evangelist. (see the great movie based on the Pruitt-Igoe projects on Nexflix). The family moved to Pagedale, and LaVerne graduated from Normandy High School before studying speech and acting at Tennessee State University.
She went on to earn a psychology degree at Washington University before studying for several semesters at St. Louis University School of Law. Her love for radio outweighed her options with a degree in Psychology. No information on services was provided. This story sadly reminds us of another Black Radio DJ who was murdered this year after he fell on hard times.