Editorial: To celebrate radio

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As most folks are now aware, yesterday was World Radio Day. And in case you were wondering why we’re celebrating this medium, you need only listen to the words of Mrs. Cynthia Boone-Thibou, a regular caller and listener to Observer radio who declared yesterday, “What would my life be like without radio? Thank you so much for what you’re doing.” Mrs. Thibou was expressing the sentiments of many Antiguans and Barbudans – that radio fills a big void in their lives. Another caller to our VOICE OF THE PEOPLE broadcast spoke of her increased productivity; nay her most productive time of the day, when listening to Observer radio. We are indeed delighted that in some way, be it ever so small, we are providing uplifting, entertaining, inspiring and edifying radio. It is our remit and our calling! We are equally thrilled that so many Antiguans and Barbudans have chosen Observer radio (91.1FM) as their preferred station. Your support of free and independent radio here in our fair state is indeed gratifying.

And what a support it has been. In the days following the demise of Observer Media Group, a palpable darkness fell over our fair state, and there was a very real fear that we were returning to the stygian days of a ruling-family party-owned radio station and the ruling-party government-owned mouthpiece controlling the airwaves. There was much apprehension that we would be returning to the benighted days when there was no dissenting/opposing/independent radio voice! Back then, it was a bleak period in our history, a bleak period made all the more distressful by the fact that the ruling family

and party sought to suffocate an independent radio station in its crib. Of course, we are referring to Winston and Samuel ‘Fergie’ Derrick’s attempt to start a radio station here in Antigua and Barbuda and the unholy resistance from “Principalities and powers and rulers . . .  in high places.” Needless to say, Winston would not be denied, and he took his fight

all the way to the Privy Council – and, mercifully, prevailed!

Recently, NEWSCO Ltd., the heir and successor to Observer Media Group, faced a similar fight against “Principalities and powers and rulers  . . . in high places,” but thanks to Algernon ‘Serpent’ Watts, Dave Lester Payne, Sylvia O’Marde and a host of concerned and generous Antiguans and Barbudans, there was going to be no crib death for free and independent radio. Nay, Observer radio survives and thrives. Clearly, we have so very much to celebrate on WORLD RADIO DAY (yesterday).

Of course, very little of where we are today would have been possible without the pioneering and exceptional work of the giants of the past on whose shoulders we now stand. It was a recognition of that fact that the producers of Observer radio’s VOICE OF THE PEOPLE decided to open the airwaves for callers and WhatsAppers to submit the names, fond recollections, funny anecdotes and nostalgic tales of those who contributed so mightily to early radio here in our blessed twin-island nation. We’re talking those who inspired us; those who exhorted and challenged us; those who made us shake a leg; those who informed us of all that we needed to know; those who put a smile on our faces and a spring in our steps by way of “Kilohertz on the medium wave band!”

Not surprisingly, the response was enthusiastic and heartwarming; so, without any further ado, we will list the names (in no particular order) of those who paved the way for us. We thank radio-land for contributing to this wonderful trip down Memory Lane, and our effort to acknowledge and say thanks to those who trod the path before us: Mickey Matthew, Ephraim John, Dave Looby, C Jaggs, Al Jackson, Toby Ganz, Doc Mad, The Silent One (Ivor Bird), Arthur Bird, Joan Samuel, Maxine Allen, Joan Veira, Bobby Reis, Garrilyn Reis, Dr. Eddie Mansoor, Sly J, Kenny Nibbs, Yoko Dee James, Peter Hilaire, Peter Lloyd Gordon, Don Bobb, Serpent Watts, Nat Moses, Jack Matthew, King I-kob, Billy Ryan, Dave Lester Payne, Norris Morris Harris, King Frank-I, Tim Hector, Senator Shawn Nicholas, Dr. Jacqui Quinn, Andy Liburd, Frank Liburd, Hazel Michael-Martin, Lady Sandra Williams, Mitzi Allen, Raymond O’Keiffe, Keith Barnwell, Dame Bridget Harris, Lady Lydia Bird, Ivor Ford, Colin Sampson, Dame Yvonne Maginley, Ruth Ambrose, Dame Gwendolyn Tonge, Bobby Margetson, Reverend Bernard ‘Brother B’ Hodge, Cornelia Michael, Oliver Flax, Consuela Parker, Jackie Chatham Allen, Tony White, Edrick Tonge, Chelston Lee, Lucene Millet, Sir Paul ‘King Obstinate’ Richards, Loton Lewis, Everton Barnes, Dennis Seon, DJ Nimble, Andre ‘Rush’ Stevens, Governor Slim, Evangelist Francore, Brother Connie, Brother Carter, Hilda Richards, Philmore Hallpike, Tim O’ Reilly,  Reginald Samuel, Alvin G, Julian Rogers, Julius Gittens, Lennox Linton, Gloria Christor, Mikel Brann,  Robin Super Stone, Kenny Derrick, Natalie White, Alex Nicholas, Denise Edwards, Charmaine Hackett, Andy Lawrence, Pat White, Trevine Carter, Louis Daniel, Joe Bahri, and so on and so forth.

WOW! What a stellar cast of radio personalities! And they all did it their way; they all had their own inimitable style. And in more ways than one, they helped shape our lives. In fact, we subscribe to UNESCO’s Blake Schierman’s assessment, “[Radio] brings together people and personalities from all backgrounds to foster positive dialogue for change. More specifically, radio is the perfect medium to counter the appeals for violence and the spread of conflict . . . On that basis, WORLD RADIO DAY 2019 will celebrate the theme of ‘Dialogue, Tolerance and Peace!’” Let’s get it on!

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