Seaga impacted the radio waves

Seaga impacted the radio waves

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

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Dear Editor,

Much has been said and written about former Prime Minister Edward Seaga since his death, but I am not sure many people are aware of the role that he played in the broadening of the media landscape, particularly as it relates to radio.

While at Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation ( JBC) in the 1970s I had developed the idea of the three regional radio stations operated by the JBC, Radio West in Montego Bay, Radio Northeast in Ocho Rios, and Radio Central in Mandeville, Manchester.

I won't go into the thinking that informed the creation of the regional stations, but when the Government changed in 1980 the new Jamaica Labour Party Administration took a decision to close them, with the exception of the station in Montego Bay.

I subsequently wrote to the chairman of the board of the JBC to inquire if they would be prepared to sell the station in Mandeville. It took some months to get a response, which came by way of an announcement from Seaga that the Government was developing a policy to divest the regional radio stations.

The station in Mandeville was subsequently divested to a group, which I had the honour to chair, and renamed KLAS FM 89. Radio West became Radio Waves under the chairmanship of Godfrey Dyer and Radio Northeast became IRIE FM, led by the late Karl Young.

Prior to this all radio stations were operated by Radio Jamaica and the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.

All of the licences for the new radio stations had a clause which required that 40 per cent of the shareholding should be divested by way of a public offer after three years. But that is another story for another time.

Neville James

Kingston 8

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