By Richard Johnson Observer senior reporter johnsonr@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, May 30, 2015

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FOR filmmaker and author Barbara Blake-Hannah, the recently launched Rasta Radio provides a much-needed space where the issues, ideas and opinions relating to Rastafari can be discussed.

Located on www.ustream.tv/channel/rasta-radio-ja, Blake-Hannah is the conceptualiser of the Internet radio station. Launched one week ago, she contends it is a long time coming.

"I have always observed that there is no radio, television or newspaper and generally no space geared towards Rasta. With the renewed emphasis on Rasta with the changes to the law as it relates to ganja, the time was right to provide a forum where we could talk to each other about the issues which affect us as a group," she explained.

Blake-Hannah noted that the station has gotten off the ground with little or no support and as such has had to take 'baby steps'. For her, the Internet is the way to go in keeping with international trends.

"Digital radio is really heavy worldwide. It allows your audience to access the station wherever they are globally. Having a stand alone, brick and mortar station would come with all the attendant costs which we are not able to handle just yet so we are building from the roots," said Blake-Hannah.

The station's format features a daily roots-reggae music feed, primarily showcasing the work of Rastafarian artistes. On Saturdays between 6:00 pm and 12:00 midnight Rasta Radio airs a talk show hosted by Blake-Hannah.

According to her, the show discusses issues pertinent to Rasta. She disclosed that there will be a Cannabis Corner where all matters relating to the decriminalisation of the weed and its implications for the Rastafari community, are shared.

There will also be a book corner with information on literature being produced by Rasta, new music and developments in organisations such as the Rastafari Millennium Council.

Rasta Radio has aligned itself with other Rastafari-oriented events and entities. Florida-based Rastafari TV -- another Internet entity -- is one of the early alliances.

Weekly events such as the popular Dub Club vinyl party on Sundays will be streamed live on Rasta Radio.

"This is long overdue. Over the years, Mutabaruka has been the lone voice representing Rasta on radio... we've had Muta for nearly 20 years now but he's just one voice, we need more people sharing ideas and discussing the issues," said Blake-Hannah. "What we have now is just the germ of the bigger picture. This is radio for Rasta without apology."

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