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Remembering Legendary Shaw DJ Lord Fauntleroy Bandy

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The building that now houses the 9:30 Club was once the home of the WUST radio station.
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The building that now houses the 9:30 Club was once the home of the WUST radio station.

At 1348 U Street in Northwest D.C., there really isn't anything of note; there's non-descript building, some people milling around, nothing out of the ordinary. But if you were there in the 1950s at around 4 p.m., you'd find a different scene: the Republic Theater and a cadre of teenagers from all over D.C. standing outside.

Sandra Butler Truesdale was one of those teenagers, and she would come down to the Republic Theater from Cordoza High School.

"If you can just imagine this whole sidewalk being covered with girls," Truesdale says, standing in the same spot where you would find her and her friends 60 years ago. "We would stand out here and we would dance."

A larger-than-life personality

Aside from standing and dancing, they were watching the very handsome John Bandy. He was a DJ for WUST, a radio station that broadcast on 1120 AM, at 250 watts during the daytime only. Bandy was their most famous DJ in the mid-50s.

"I don't think that many of us knew his name was John," she says. "We just knew Lord Fauntleroy Bandy."

DJ Lord Fauntleroy Bandy was his on-air persona. He spoke in a fake British accent on air, and by all reports, at every other time of day. The accent was perfect, as far as Butler Truesdale was concerned, but it also caused a fair amount of confusion.

"A lot of us thought that he was white," says Harold Bell, a fourth generation Washingtonian. "We didn't realize that he was a brother."

This confusion was settled because Lord Fauntleroy Bandy broadcast from a window facing U Street.

"When I first saw him, he wore an ascot -- a sharp dresser," says Bell, who went to Spingarn High School in Northeast, but would come to U Street to watch DJ Lord Fauntleroy.

Remarking on a DJs appearance doesn't happen too frequently. Neither does Bell's description of a typical scene on U Street back then.

"People would ride up and down the street and he would holler at them all: 'This is Lord Fauntleroy Bandy. Hello out there in that red Cadillac convertible,'" Bell says.

Bandy's audience more than just teens

Patrick Ellis of the radio station WHUR remembers Bandy from when he would listen to 6 or 7 years old.

"I used to hear him in the afternoons" Ellis says.

Ellis would be at home in Columbia Heights and WUST would be playing in the afternoons. He mostly remembers Bandy for his accent and the local horse racing results, which Bandy announced. He also remembers, with a little uncertainty, a tagline Bandy said. It went something like "I'm going downtown to see Ms. Brown and spin the round table," says Ellis.

Accent and looks aside, DJ Lord Fauntleroy Bandy was one of the first people to introduce R&B to the city of Washington. At the time, it wasn't Al Green or Curtis Mayfield. It was The Orioles, The Flamingos, and Pookie Hudson and The Spaniels. 

"He would sit in that window and play that music and we were a part of that man," says Bell. "One of my favorite songs was The Spaniels' 'You Gave Me Peace of Mind,' and I always connect that with Lord Fauntleroy Bandy, because he would always play that and I think that was one of his favorites, too."

Bandy left WUST in 1960 and went to WDAS in Philadelphia, where he became the assistant general manager. He had a few stints on TV and married Roberta Pew, one of the heiresses to the Sun Oil Company fortune.

Those in Washington still remember him for sitting behind a window on U Street playing R&B with his affected accent.

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