Reportedly a virtual reunion of radio personalities left a few crying and even sobbing with nostalgic reunions recently when the 21st annual Merritone Family Fun Festival stopped into Long Island’s Hecksher Park to honor pioneers and veterans of New York radio.
A reliable source said Florida resident Clinton Lindsay cried after greeting his fellow radio associate, Francine Chin.
Now a southern transplant to the Sunshine state, Lindsay first earned props as the pioneer of the New York Reggae Music Awards, which later was renamed for his daughter Tamika.
He later tested the airways charting music and hosting his own brokered show at WNWK-FM.
His emotional response to seeing like-minded colleagues was perhaps a testament to the shared respect for individuals dedicated to the craft of spinning discs that laud the island of Jamaica but most likely the fact trailblazers who delighted in spreading joy to a niche market demography and those able to accept the bouquets now handed to them in bunches.
Present and accounted for were pioneers Gil Bailey, Earl “Rootsman” Chin, Jeff Barnes, Ken Williams and acclaimed veterans Chin, Clive Williams and others who traveled from Florida and all parts of the tri-state area to be included in the inaugural Jamaica Radio Village where tokens of acknowledgement and appreciation were presented.
They received lucite microphones.
In addition, some received congressional citations.
All seemed grateful.
Both Bailey and Earl Chin share memories of their trailblazing time spent at WHBI-FM almost four decades ago.
Regarded as pioneers of Caribbean radio in New York City, they maintain unrivaled status for paving a path to prominence and cultural appreciation of Jamaica’s heritage holding down ‘graveyard’ shifts at WHBI.
Although the Rootsman transitioned to host “Rockers TV,” Bailey remained a brokered lion with his lioness Pat who co-hosted entertaining showcases at WPAT-AM.
Barnes whose entre to NY radio established a Caribbean news voice on Black-music programmed WWRL — the 1600 AM station introduced him to New York radio audiences and also helped in garnering a much broader listening audience by the time he moved to WLIB-AM and later ventured to brokered radio after exiting the high-powered Manhattan flagship outlet.
“I am honored to be remembered and awarded,” Francine Chin said after accepting her personal trophy.
Popular as one of the hosts of “Caribbean Blend” aired on WNWK-FM she soared as only one of a few women to share the brokered playlists spun nightly at the then emerging Caribbean oriented outlet. Prior to joining a team of deejays eager to integrate reggae and soca music into mainstream radio, Chin said she was mentored by a stewardship helmed by Williams.
Williams was first mentored by Hal Jackson, a veteran of radio who recruited the Jamaican to join a roster of Caribbean newcomers that included — Al Gee, Holly Thomas, Karl Anthony, Claude Tait and others at the Percy Sutton family-owned Inner City Broadcasting Corporation where a dawn to dusk schedule accommodated Caribbean news and music.
Williams later resorted to buying time at WRTN-FM a brokered radio station that for a fee welcomed varied and new music programming.
It was there under his tutelage that Chin embarked on a radio career.
She has often noted that along with fellow apprentice Pat McKay she was able to learn the intricacies of the medium.
Conroy Allison who allegedly worked in the sales department at WLIB radio has been integral to preserving the annual Merritones Festival which is billed as a ‘family fun’ fest.’
He reportedly was one of the architects to launch a salute to past radio personalities.
Allison now brokers time on WVIP hosting “The Winners Circle.”
Others honored included Clive Williams, Jeff Sarge, DJ Roy, DubbMaster Chris and McKay and was promoted to acknowledge “more than 60 Jamaican radio personalities.”
The event billed entertainers Leroy Sibbles, Marcia Aitken and the Mighty Diamonds.
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