CaribZone Commentary: Aubrey Campbell –Tuesday, May 31st

Good day folks. To God be the glory. You can stick a fork in May, as you did yesterday in whatever you slap on the grill or outdoor fireplace, to usher in the summer season.

Last week,  my friend and colleague in the business Anthony Turner, penned a piece congratulating Conroy Allison on his milestone achievement  of 35 years in radio, and it immediately peaked my interest, for a number of reasons.

I know I may be listed as a ‘person of interest’ after this, for of such is the state of the landscape these days. Then again, what else is new?

Since moving here and influenced by my background in media, I was always, even to this day, always, always, fascinated by what passes as good to great radio programming and especially in the Caribbean American niche communities.

Let get it straight from the ‘get go’…Private owned and state owned media outlets are miles apart in the delivery of information and entertainment. One is censored and the other is uncut, raw chaw, slap dash , slam bam, thank you, maam!

Before moving here, all I knew was JBBlind…oops, JBC and RJR on the electronic side of the mass communication spectrum, and Gleaner, Star, Daily News, Herald and Beacon (now Western Mirror), on the print side. I was not handsome enough for television, then!

Are you with me, so far?

The whole media landscape then and there was driven by talent with training to smooth out any rough edges. JBC was controlled by the government of the day and so the news department then was an extension of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), complementing the real voice of government, JIS.

RJR had much more latitude in its presentation and as such enjoyed a much bigger share of the transistorized listening audience.

To borrow a very popular slogan, radio in America then, was ‘miles ahead’ of Jamaica and the Caribbean region.

It was not a case of who could afford to buy air time to preserve the culture of the region or providing a bridge for the crossing over, but that’s what happened. Fine!

But to this day, I am still stumped on the lack of ownership by us, Caribbean Americans, of a medium, for us!

Call it, The non-democracy of our media!

So here is the $100 m question. If the Jamaicans, Caribbean Americans at  WLIB were so great, why did management ‘looked  the other way’ in its public sales offer, considering that was the core of its intended audience and programming?

Colleague Turner already list the ‘great personalities’ and I know of others who were in key admin positions, holding it down as we say ‘out in the streets’!

FACT OF THE MATTER is, our community does not trust itself. Classic case in point, this Diaspora movement, stuck in neutral from day one! PetroCaribe oil alone cannot grease the engine!

And why did WLIB thought it necessary to sell out the community in the first place if the collective respect of the many media greats was anything to go by?

I know of a fact that there was/is no unity in the media community, which also forced WNWK to bail out of the market, changing frequency and focus.

So what do we have in 2016, a bunch of misfits in front of a microphone, masquerading – thank you Mr. Allison for the admission  – as producers and presenters of programs fit for radio. SMH

And Tony Cobb, who loves to hide behind his glasses like he is such a cool dude in frigid New York City, needs to tell me and tell you why so many efforts to bring the media practitioners to the table to pool their available resources to buy a radio station, have failed!

Clive Williams is one of the personalities who knows the story but might be he is taking his own sweet time in compiling the data. Frustrated by what he was forced to endure, he walked away from the mic and took up the pen and is now editing his own happenings periodical.

Of course, there are others worthy of a mention here. Patrick Buddington, my executive editor and CEO of IMC Media, who took me to WWRL and is someone who has his ears to the ground, can write a better piece than this and even Janice Julian, whose frustration is underscored by her absence from the professional frontlines. She was the one who dragged me, kicking and screaming, back in front of the mic at Irie Jam.

So you will see that I’m not new to this, thanks Daved!

I know why. Each one who is on the radio or dream of being a radio personality is instantaneously drowned in a dream of glitz and glamour, wanting to be king of his own castle., without the subjects!

Think for a second. None of these misfits have been to radio school so much so that they cannot distinguish and differentiate between a radio station and a content provider.

For example, how is Irie Jame Radio, Link up Radio and Groovin Radio, TO NAME JUST A FEW, are broadcasting on the same Radio Station. Does that make common sense? And what bothers me, none of these entities have ever tries to school the community they serve.

Makes perfect sense because instead of trying to win over listeners on rival stations, WVIP disc jockeys and content providers spend the time competing against each other of the same station!

From that level of confusion, it is clear to see why a vibrant, upwardly mobile demographic as is the Caribbean community, has largely gone underground to fill the need for ‘real Caribbean radio’..LOL!

WLIB sold out, WNWK sold out, WWRL sold out and what was WVOX, now WVIP, is left all alone to lap it all up. Sad!

Greatness is a measurement of humanity. You must have something to show for it! Otherwise it’s no point boasting! A me say dat. Google nuh have it yet!

Keeping the champagne or sparkling cider – for me – on ice for a little while longer, is sometimes the better option!

Next month, we will gather around the fireplace to tell our own stories during Caribbean American History Month.

That’s today’s conversation. Yuh have the last word. Share your thoughts.


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