Bevan Earle — blazing a trail of success in South Florida

BY MARK CUMMINGS Editor-at-Large cummingsm@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, July 09, 2016

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida — When St James native Bevan Earle emigrated to Florida in 1989 after serving 18 years in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), he had no idea that he would later be dubbed "The Voice of the Caribbean People in South Florida."


Affectionately called ‘The Duke of Earle’, and sometimes ‘Duke’, Earle now hosts his own talk show, Hot Talk, aired five days per week on the South Florida-based WAVS 1170 AM Radio.


He is also the editor/publisher of the monthly Caribbean Voice newspaper, and has copped numerous awards for his outstanding work in the field of journalism.


But getting there wasn’t all smooth sailing for the former tough crime fighter, who had reached the rank of acting corporal in the JCF before quitting the job for ‘greener pastures’.


"When I migrated to South Florida it was rough at first, it wasn’t easy. I had to get up early in the mornings and travel far distances to work," said Earle, who did not attain a high school education back home.


In fact, he joined the Jamaica Defence Force in the 1960s shortly after graduating from the Mount Zion All-Age School in St James, before enlisting in the JCF.


"As soon as I arrived there (Florida) I worked with a close friend laying underground cables. It was hard, hard work; at times the palm of my hands would burn," Earle told the Jamaica Observer.


Today, Earle boasts a honorary doctorate from Cumberland University, through the Jehovah Jitet Biblical Institute of Theology and Christian Education.


The function at which he was honoured took place at the New Way Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, and saw Earle being recognised for services in the field of journalism.


He recalled that it was Calvin Shaw, a former journalist who worked at the then Montego Bay’s
Radio West, and the late Don Pollock, who was one of his instructors at the Police Training School in Jamaica, who encouraged him to venture into the field of journalism.


"Don Pollock was a good friend and he was working at WAVS, and he encouraged me to come into the station and listen to him, and to see him work," said Earle, adding that Shaw was very supportive of the idea.


Earle said he started out with an on-air dating programme in 1990 named Love Zone once per week, but saw where he could contribute more to the community by doing informative programmes, hence the start of Hot Talk five years later. The show, which was initially aired one night per week, was an instant hit.


"The response was very good. Now, I do two hours each day, five days per week," said Earle, adding that the listenership of his award- winning show continues to grow in leaps and bounds. "The show is hot, it is controversial, it is provocative and it is inspirational. Everybody wants to listen to my programme," Earle boasted.


"People just love to listen to my programme, which also carries cutting edge news from Jamaica and the US. A lot of people will tell you that they just can’t go to bed without listening to my show."


He added that outside broadcasts from several Caribbean islands, including Jamaica, the Turks and Caicos Islands, Barbados, St Lucia and Jamaica, are oftentimes aired on his programme, courtesy of the Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart-chaired Sandals Resorts International.


Roughly 60 per cent of his listeners, he said, are Jamaicans.


Jamaican native Danny Simpson, who has been living in South Florida for almost two decades, described Hot Talk as a very informative show.


"I have been listening to the show for a very long time and I find it very controversial, informative and interesting. ‘Duke’ is very honest with his comments and seems to have a wide listenership," Simpson stressed, adding that he is also an ardent reader of the monthly published, Caribbean Voice.


Earle said he started the newspaper primarily to give Jamaicans living in South Florida a voice.


"When I started living here, it was very difficult to get anything positive published about Jamaica. It was always very negative stuff. I recalled contacting a prominent newspaper here to cover a forum to discuss issues about Jamaica and they didn’t turn up. That tells me that they were not interested in publishing some of the things that were positive about Jamaica, they are only interested in publishing the negative stuff," he argued.


Now, he said, the newspaper, which highlights the issues of Jamaicans and Floridians, is doing "very well".


And stressing that he is proud of his achievements, Earle told the Sunday Observer that he has received many accolades over the years for his hard work.


"Among my many awards is the Diaspora Award presented to me by the Governor General of Jamaica in 2012. That one I really cherish because I was the only Caribbean journalist to receive that award," said Earle, adding that he is also the only Caribbean journalist to receive the keys to Broward Country.


Others included: the IRAWMA Award in 2013, the Stellar Award from the Jamaica National Building Society, as well as several proclamations from governors of Florida, and many cities in that state.


Earle said he has also been privileged to rub shoulders with congressmen, senators, commissioners, US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, John McCain, John Edwards and John Kerry over the years.


And stressing that he is an ambassador for Jamaica, Earle said seven years ago he founded ‘Jamaica Flag Day,’ which is commemorated in the city of Lauderhill, South Florida, annually on August 6.


"This ‘Jamaica Flag Day’ is a day set aside to honour our Jamaica nationals and fly the Jamaican flag at the ceremony," Earle explained, as he commended Sandals Resorts International, the Jamaica Tourist Board, Broward Meat and Fish, Jamaica National Building Society and Donna’s Caribbean Restaurant for their unwavering support for the event.


He has also undertaken a back-to-school initiative, which involves the distribution of hundreds of school bags and books to needy students in St James, Jamaica annually.


And while retirement is not on his cards anytime soon, the 64 year-old journalist, said he would love to make Jamaica his home when he retires.


"I love Jamaica. I am a patriotic Jamaican and I am not afraid to champion any cause for the development of my country. I will talk about the ills and I will talk about the good, but I know for sure that there is nowhere better than Jamaica. If the island could get to deal adequately with its worrying crime issue, establish proper health care facilities and educate its people, I believe most Jamaicans would want to go home when they retire," he suggested.


And reflecting on his years in Jamaica, Earle emphasised that it was his enlistment in the JCF that had paved the way for his success in Florida.


"I loved the work as a policeman, In fact, if it were not for the Police Force I would not be where I am today. It really prepared me for life," said Earle, citing Stewart and the late South African leader Nelson Mandela as his mentors.


   

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