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STREETSEEN  | Malvin Massey

Photo by Steve Roberts

Malvin Massey: General Manager of WUMR

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

For over 10 years, Malvin Massey has served as the General Manager of WUMR, a radio station owned by The University of Memphis that broadcasts an all-jazz music format. But his interest in music was initiated years earlier.

“I started with music when I was 14, a student at Corry Junior High School, off of Elvis Presley Boulevard in South Memphis,” recalled Massey. “At the time, the school was brand new, and our class was the first band class. Herbert Thomas was the band director.”

Massey continued, “I started on alto saxophone. I found I could sight read well, so when I went to high school at Hamilton High and the band director, Thomas Doggett, said he needed tenor saxophone players, he switched me over. My last year of high school he put me on baritone sax.”

After high school, Massey went on a four-year tour of duty with the US Air Force. When he moved back to Memphis, in 1974, it was the beginning of Massey’s return to music. He started attending Memphis State on the GI Bill as a music major. And he played in the jazz band under the direction of Tommy Ferguson.

“Mr. Ferguson put me on baritone sax,” recalled Massey. “At the same time, on weekends I was playing in a band at The Hawaiian Isle, a jazz club in South Memphis. There I played tenor sax. I became a member of the house band, the Eddie “Pug” Dandridge quartet. I played with him until 1975 when I married my first wife, vocalist Glenda Stepter. When she left the club, Pug brought Ruby Wilson to town to take her place. Ruby was only supposed to be here for three weeks…but that’s another story.”

“I dropped out of my school program and started working until 1994 when I had a disastrous accident. I ran into a telephone pole in my brand new Chevy Lumina. The worst part of it all, I was still playing my horn and the crash burned up my saxophone because it was in the trunk of my car.”

The company he was working for offered Massey a severance to resign and he took the deal. Because of his love of jazz, Massey had been volunteering at WUMR since 1988. When Massey arrived at this career crossroads, Sunny Caudwell, of WCRV AM 640, offered him a job as a board operator.

“I started running the programs and ads. After a while I became the overnight program manager,” said Massey. “Next I began recording all of the shows, editing and learning how to use audio software. I stayed there until I graduated from the U of Memphis in 2009. At that time, the General Manager position opened up at WUMR, I applied for it and got the job.”

Massey served as WUMR’s General Manager from 2009 - 2020. Now he’s taking on a different role — he has retired and now volunteers at the station.

“I’m also advising students and WUMR’s interim program director,” said Massey. “My retirement came about because the radio station had become too expensive for the College of Communication and Fine Arts to continue to support it. When the station was first founded, broadcast students were a part of it, with their tuition going to pay operating expenses. However, in 2010 or so, the broadcast communication program was moved to the School of Journalism as broadcast journalism. Those students were not interested in broadcasting in terms of how to run a TV or radio station, so we had to start supporting ourselves with fundraisers. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to raise enough money to sustain the station financially. WUMR has been 1 of 8 stations in the country that has a 24/7 all-jazz format. We’ve built the station up to where it is one of the most respected stations in the nation — partially because it is from Memphis (so well known in the world of music) and partially because of the way we programmed it (playing all types of jazz —  smooth, straight ahead, Latin, fusion, new age and classic).”

Now the university has entered into a partnership with The Daily Memphian and Crosstown Concourse. The plans are for the station to move to The Concourse sometime this summer. The details are still in flux, but the talk is that they will add some news programming, keep a presence of jazz, and add other musical genres. 

 

STREETSEEN | Suehair "Sue" Lauck

Photo by Steve Roberts

Suehair "Sue" Lauck: Owner of The Little Tea Shop

Story by Emily Adams Keplinger

Suhair “Sue” Lauck's path to her place in Downtown Memphis began on the western bank of Jordan in what is now known as Palestine. That is where her cooking experience began. Growing up, Sue said that her parents and her grandparents were all good cooks.

“We lived to eat,” said Sue. “But I’m a cook, not a chef. I didn’t go to culinary school and earn that title. In fact, I went to school to be a fashion designer, but I always loved cooking.”

Sue came to Memphis, in 1967 when she married a man from the Bluff City.

“Hallelujah — In 1967 I became an American, and a Memphian,” exclaimed Sue. 

True to her training, Sue’s first job in Memphis was doing alterations for the Frances Wright dress shop on Union. Later Sue decided to go back to Palestine. When she returned to Memphis she was asked if she would help out a day or two a week at La Baguette. She did that for five years. Along the way she divorced in the mid-1970s, then met James Lauck at La Baguette. He came in to purchase some pastries for a meeting. The couple married seven years after first meeting. When the building that housed the Little Tea shop went up for sale, James purchased it. James asked Sue if she had any interest in running it for him. In July 1982, and she became the cook and the manager.

“Since July 1, 1982, we have owned The Little Tea Shop at 69 Monroe,” explained Sue. “I’m the cook, the hostess and the cashier (but my best title is grandmother). We’re open five days a week, Monday - Friday, for lunch. We do what we do best — healthy, home-style cooking, with special entrees every day, vegetables, salads and desserts. Our top-selling dish is turnip greens, and we’re known for our peach and apple cobblers, and our frozen pecan balls.”

Something else that stands out about Sue’s cooking are the spices that she uses. 

“When I started cooking at The Little Tea Shop, all they used were salt, pepper and paprika. I changed the way they cooked, but I tried to be smart and not make changes immediately. I let my style evolve and won people over with my healthy dishes that had great flavor. I have so many spices in my kitchen and like to use them freshly ground. I use herbs like mint, parsley, basil, thyme, oregano, and spices like cumin and cardamon. Oddly enough, I love to use coriander, but can’t stand cilantro.” 

As for her clientele, Sue’s restaurant is filled daily with a “Who’s Who of Memphis.” 

“This is the place for a power lunch in Downtown,” said Sue. “Bankers, lawyers, judges, and people from the cotton industry sit in the same room with well-known individuals from the Memphis music scene and sports icons. Some of those folks eat with me every day.”

“But, I have seen ‘The Good, The Bad and the Ugly,’ since opening in 1982. There was a time when we were the only restaurant on the block. The next closest eatery was The Rendezvous, then Bon Ton moved in. Before that, it could be kind of scary opening in the early morning.”

Sue has not only worked Downtown for almost the last four decades, she has also been a resident since 1987, living above her restaurant.

“The best thing that has ever happened since I’ve been living Downtown is that young people are moving back into the area,” said Sue. “With the old Post Office converted to the University of Memphis Law School, there are people here all the time. It really is a case of ‘the more the merrier.’  I love living Downtown. I feel very safe and can walk to my doctor, my dentist and a pharmacy. There’s also a park nearby, and a number of sports teams, as well as fabulous entertainment options at The Orpheum and The Cannon Center. Everything is so convenient that I sold my car last year and only leave Downtown once a week to shop at a large grocery store.”

If you haven’t been to the Little Tea shop or haven’t been in a while, stop in to visit Sue and experience some of her tasty culinary creations.