Merritone lauds veteran broadcasters

Horse Racing

Merritone lauds veteran broadcasters

Observer senior writer

Friday, August 16, 2019

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An elite cast of groundbreaking Jamaican broadcasters were the toast of the Merritone Family Fun Day, which took place August 11 at Heckscher Park in Long Island, New York.

The honorees were: Tony Cobb, Gil Bailey, Jeff Barnes, Ken Williams, Earl “Rootsman” Chin, Clive Hudson, Jeff Sarge, Disco Kid, Safia Seivright, Francine Chin, Pat McKay, Sister Lovely, DJ Roy, Dubb Master Chris, Gem Morrison, Clinton Lindsay, Ellen “Pat” Bailey, and Vonnie McGowan.

Pat Bailey and Vonnie McGowan were recognised posthumously.

Barnes and Bailey, who were two of the leading lights on radio station WNWK during the 1970s, are elated their contributions were acknowledged.

“It feels good, feels good. It's good to be recognised and good for people to understand the role we play here in New York,” said Barnes. “We used newspapers to give people the news in New York but with technology now, we are way past that.”

Born in Kingston, Barnes started in radio in 1964 at Radio Jamaica before migrating to the Big Apple. His younger brothers, Winston and Ed, are also broadcasters.

Bailey, who is from St Thomas, moved to the United States in the late 1960s. He got his start on radio in 1969 and has been a fixture on West Indian airwaves since.

“I've never been to a radio school in my life, I did it on my own. I feel so good to be honoured in a crowd like this,” he said.

Bailey was presented with a Golden Mic to mark his 50th year on radio.

Organisers of the annual Merritone Family Fun Day decided to honour these stalwarts with its Jamaica Radio Day. They helped put Caribbean radio on the map in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey, Connecticut) during the 1970s and 1980s when the region's culture had little presence on American mainstream radio.

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