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The Gathering Of A Voice
Doc Shadowbear brings the Native American sound to the radio
By Jim Mount
Fort Wayne Reader
Warm, jovial and inviting, Doc Shadowbear opens on WELT 95.7 every Friday night, his personality spilling over the airwaves much like Wolfman Jack or any of the early DJ's spinning record platters over the airwaves. It’s a voice that sounds like it comes from radio’s glory days. Interspersed with the music are words of wisdom from Native American sages intoning over contemporary flute music, lending to the program an aura of something more than just another music program.
A part of the increasingly stellar lineup that WELT 95.7 has introduced to the Fort Wayne airwaves here recently, Doc Shadowbear is a voice and personality that stands distinctly by himself. His program, The Gathering with Doc Shadowbear is a format that, until the advent of WELT 95.7, hasn't been heard of here on the local airwaves. A mix of musical styles and stories, words of wisdom and art coming from a distinctly Native American perspective.
The Gathering is composed of Doc Shadowbear; Windrider his fiancée; Sophie Bella an accomplished professional drummer; Ricky Leonard, flute maker and flutist; Gary Van Kirk, Story Teller and Historian; and Jean – Matrioe Jonny Janssen in Cologne, Germany who rebroadcasts the show there in Germany. The Gathering is not only a way for Shadowbear to introduce the musical and cultural identity of Native Americans to a broader audience but to also showcase Native American musical fusion with a variety of contemporary musical genres,
“I have country, rap, jazz, blues, pretty much all of it,” Shadowbear says about The Gathering. “The full spectrum with Native American flavor to it. They are all Native American artists.”
While The Gathering with Doc Shadowbear airs every Friday night, past shows are archived on the internet for ready listening on Mixcloud. Shadowbear wants to bring more than just a musical perspective to his audience. According to Shadowbear, the show is designed to bring unity and to show the face of Native Americans that is seldom seen in popular media and culture,
“Its premises is to bring unity, harmony and love amongst the nations as well as to all people,” Shadowbear says about the Gathering, “and to give awareness that Native Americans do have hopes, dreams and aspirations, that we are not a third class citizen as the government would like to portray us. We do have dreams, we do have talents and some of the greatest music artists you will ever hear right on my show.”
Shadowbear himself is Native American, a member of the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe and has both an interesting and compelling history of his own,
“I was born on the Pine Ridge Reservation on December 28, 1954,” Shadowbear says, “A member of Oglala Lakota tribe and a direct descendant of Crazy Horse and I am in the Crazy Horse clan. At 3 months old I was stolen and sold and my adopted name is Bruce Lee Robinson.”
Doc eventually found his way to Fort Wayne by way of his late wife who was from Fort Wayne. Along the way, Shadowbear developed an extensive resume as a radio personality in Texas, both in Galveston and Houston, as well as in Marshall, Arkansas. He's also a former Engineering and Operations Director at GST Telecommunications as well the CEO/Owner/Operator at Cimarron Telecommunications in Houston. With this wealth of experience, WELT was a perfect fit for him,
“I stumbled onto WELT a couple of years ago but I've had many years of radio experience in the Houston market,” Shadowbear says. “I stopped into K105 (here in Fort Wayne) one Saturday and was asking about any openings and was told that most of it (the broadcast shows) was about 95% automated, but that there was this new program coming up, WELT that was coming online. So I asked around, met Erik Mollberg (WELT 95.7 station manager), one thing led to another and here I am now, 28 shows later.” With his debut on WELT, in a short space of time, Shadowbears audience has increased significantly, “We've grown from originally about 60 listeners to an average tune in.” Shadowbear says. “Now on a Friday night it's a little over a 1000.”
For the man Bruce Lee Robinson, it's the combination of his radio name, Doc, and his Lakota name, Shadowbear, and the significance of the name that opens the understanding of who Doc Shadowbear is and the beliefs that drive his program. With Shadowbear the name Doc came along while working as an overnight DJ at KILT AM radio in Houston in the early 70's,
“I worked from midnight till dawn,” Shadowbear says of the origins of Doc, “and eventually became known as 'Doctor Dawn'.” Bringing the two names together Doc Shadowbear entered the airwaves. But Shadowbear is the name heavy with significance and meaning. “It's a very powerful totem.” Shadowbear says. “My bear is a female brown bear, it's my left totem. The left totem represents the feminine and the right hand totem represents the masculine in our beliefs.”
Shadowbear explains, “We believe everything in cycles of four, the Lakota do, and it's of nurturing, protection and love, which I've spent all my life doing.”
The cycle of four in Lakota belief has several significances. Among those are the mental, physical, spiritual and emotional aspects of an individual and the importance of keeping these aspects in harmony. For the Lakota, music is a way for this to happen. With certain individuals, they are entrusted to compose music which is uplifting, encouraging, comforting and healing which promotes harmony with the four aspects of the individual and according to Shadowbear, the cycle of four goes even further and is chiefly derived from the belief of unity with the divine.
“The cycle of four is derived from the belief,” Shadowbear says, “that we are one with Unci Maka Grandmother Earth, Father Sun, Grandfather Moon and the Creator as well.”
Ultimately for Doc Shadowbear the driving force of his program is his passion for the unity of all people and cultures in harmony with one another.”
“I jokingly tell people that I'm a Don Quixote, I love to joust at wind mills.” Shadowbear continues. “I hate to see man’s inhumanity to man and I try to defend and help all that I can even at great personal sacrifice that's because that's who I am and that's what I'm supposed to do.”
Doc Shadowbears program, The Gathering With Doc Shadowbear, can be heard every Friday night on WELT 95.7 from 7 to 9 pm or on his radio page The Gathering With Doc Shadowbear. You can find archived show at mixcloud.com