Although he retired from WRAL-TV last fall, Clarence Williams is still sharing CBC stories from the community. Williams recently wrote this piece to remember a WRAL Radio legend, Raymond “Dr. Jocko” Henderson and his mentor, J.D. Lewis:
The beautiful serene section located on the northeast sector of Oakwood Cemetery is being respectfully referred to as “Radio Ridge.” The small crowd that gathered around the covered headstone chuckled as Thad Woodard, who help organized the occasion suggested that would be an appropriate name as he pointed to the headstone nearby. That large stone had the name “LEWIS” boldly chiseled at the top. This was the finally resting place of legendary broadcaster, J. D. Lewis, Jr. With little fanfare the white cloth cover was removed revealing the name of one of J.D.’s many disciples. The name on it was Raymond “Dr. Jocko” Henderson.
Woodard’s words were not lost on the attendees as it was stated that Henderson’s mentor proceeded him in death. They both worked at WRAL radio in its infant years. Henderson, a student at Raleigh’s St. Augustine’s College was always interested in becoming a disc jockey and knew that J.D. Lewis, already an established announcer was his key.
He contacted Lewis who agreed to train him and subsequently got him a job as his backup.
In the early 60’s Henderson was hired at Raleigh’s WLLE 570 AM, his dynamic personality quickly generated a huge following in the Triangle. That popularity among the entire community was credited for keeping the Raleigh area calm following the assassination of Martin Luther King Junior as Henderson and Lewis took to the streets to dissuade angry students from rioting.
Henderson’s career took him to Detroit where he eventually became an executive with Motown Records. He traveled as the master of ceremonies with James Brown and help create his own television dance show, like his mentor’s J.D. Lewis’ dance program the very popular, long running WRAL television “Teenage Frolics.”
Although, in ill health Henderson came to Raleigh to receive a long due community service award for fostering racial harmony at The Triangle Martin Luther King, Jr. Prayer Breakfast. He wrote that this award was “especially meaningful” citing his love for the community.
“Dr. Jocko,” a name he adopted for radio, was raised in Raleigh and was an outstanding athlete at J. W. Ligon High School and Saint Augustine’s College. He died at his home in Michigan after a long illness. The dedication of his headstone is the final end to his journey home.
Thanks to WRAL-TV retiree Clarence Williams for this capcom story & for these capcom photos.