We are spoon-fed that radio, newspapers, magazines and eventually television, are dying.
Many pioneers have left their perches in search of either joining the new wave in the digital realm or reminiscing on the good ol’ days.
Francine Chin stands as a radio powerhouse who has taken her talents online with the new school but manages to keep everything else old school. “There’s no rules in doing it on online radio,” Chin explained. “As you know, it is a free medium so I think what most of what you will find are just folks who want to do their thing without the training and there’s nothing that we should say to discredit that. However, when you want to establish and maintain a professional outfit than obviously you should do it the way it’s supposed to be done with some updates.”
Chin is a decorated radio host with a background in broadcast media, Spanish and English. Her drive to be one of the greatest started in her teenage years after being inspired to be a voice on the radio like the greats before her.
“Since I was a young teenager, I wanted to do radio mainly because of some influences that were on radio in Jamaica where I was born. Namely, the biggest influence was a woman called Marie Garth. I just fell in love,” Chin said.
Like many Caribbean radio hosts before her, Chin took the traditional route to achieve radio host status. After high school, she immersed herself in theater training and some speech work.
In 1982, Chin’s first opportunity to join the airwaves presented itself when wellknown Don Topping approached her to start working at radio Jamaica. “At the time I couldn’t do it, I was newly married, pregnant, I had a good job position and I totally waited until I came here and I went to broadcasting school,” she said.
Following her broadcast instruction, Chin kicked off her career with Caribbean radio pioneer, Ken Williams where she soaked in a wide range of knowledge from her mentor.
Taking over local and international airwaves for nearly 24 years and counting, Chin has worked with the late Philip Smart and has provided voice over work for public relations agencies in New York City and Fox F.M. in Melbourne, Australia.
Now, the Jamaican native is spearheading a new project: online radio. Providing a Caribbean centered show with the inclusion of a few other veteran hosts, Chin boasts an average listenership of 200,000 and counting.
“I am pleasantly surprised at the success of what we’re doing on Internet radio and how much I have learned,” she said. “It shows how times are changing and where the next big thing is. A lot of folks tell me I came into this game at the right time because when they started there was not much respect for Internet radio. Now, you have someone like the former director of KISS FM who has a fully up and running Internet station like we do.”
The seasoned radio host manages to offer a full radio line-up through the access the Internet provides. Tapping into other networks who carry her show as well, Chin cherry picks radio hosts who fit her standards — many of whom are colleagues of hers — to fill in the hours from morning to late evening.
“Well basically, each of us have our own network,” Chin said. “I have 1095 Jamz and I take the morning show from someone who has another network with a full lineup. I had a two-hour slot from 10-12 so I fit in a gentleman who has another additional 20 networks that carries him, there’s some music but there’s mostly talk. Mid-day, I take Clinton Lindsay who is one of the more established networks within the foundation radio network. I take Clinton’s show because we are very close and we worked together in New York and he has a huge listenership. Patrick Lafayette has a small network where he does mostly music without talk but at 6 o’clock he comes on. That’s how I get my full line-up, taking professionals from different networks and they carrying me.”
Her ability to include all of these different networks who in turn carry her is something she coins as: “the power of the network” — which she ultimately attributes to networking and the willingness to build community.
Since the inception of the online radio station, Chin’s thoughts on expansion includes reaching out to local media outlets including newspapers and magazines catering to the Caribbean community.