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T&T’s radio and television trailblazers
Sponsored by First Citizens, this series profiles some of our heroes, pioneers and trailblazers in various fields such as agriculture, business, community social work and volunteerism, culture and the arts, economics, education, engineering and architecture, environment, fashion and beauty pageants, law, medicine, oil, politics, public service, radio and television, religion, science, sports, trade unionism and writing/journalism. Profiles on approximately 370 of T&T’s heroes, pioneers and trailblazers can be obtained from the free e-book at http://www.safaripublications.com /firstcitizenstt/heroesprofilestt /courtesy First Citizens, or hard copies at [email protected].
In this instalment, we note some of our trailblazers in the field of radio and television, names, faces and voices that have paved the way for those today to follow.
Radio had its start in Trinidad and Tobago at Radio Trinidad on the 730AM band in 1947, while television had its start at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT) in 1962.
There were many voices and faces the nation came to know and recognise on the airwaves, among them Desmond Bourne, Freddie Wharwood, June Gonsalves, Barbara Assoon, Glen Antoine, Ed Fung, Frank Hughes, Leo de Leon, Trevor McDonald, Horace James, Sam Ghany, Bob Gittens, Errol Chevalier, Pat Mathura, Clyde Alleyne, Carl Redhead, Aunty Kay, Don Proudfoot, Moean Mohammed, Hazel Ward, Holly Betaudier, Raphie Knowles, Brenda de Silva, Ken Laughlin, Frank Pardo, Jimmy Wong, Ashton Chambers, Hans Hanoomansingh, Mervyn Telfer, Jones P. Madeira, Ann Austin, Ian Ali and Farouk Muhammad.
About some of these trailblazers:
Ian Ali (1937-2007). Before Sesame Street there was Rikki Tikki, hosted by “Uncle Tavi” (Jose Ramon-Fortune) and later by “Uncle Ian” Ali on TTT.
Salisha Ali (1951-1987). Ali was one of the leading television presenters of the 1970’s and early 80’s, known for confident and clear reading of the news. What was special about her was that she was confined to a wheelchair, having lost both her legs in a train accident while still at primary school.
Holly Betaudier (1925-2016). Betaudier’s name is associated with the television series “Scouting for Talent,” which ran for many years on TTT and where many of our top artistes got their first break. During his stint at Radio Trinidad, he launched the Christmas programme “Parang with Holly,” which later became a television series.
Hansley ‘Hans’ Hanoomansingh (1942-). Hanoomansingh was a producer, editor, news analyst and anchor of TTT’s “Panorama” in the early days.
Allyson Hezekiah (1948-2011). Hezekiah was a great supporter of our culture and sports. She has been described as the Oprah Winfrey of T&T, such was her local popularity for many years as one of our most loved television presenters.
Ralph ‘Raphie’ Knowles (1915-1975). Knowles was a familiar voice both on radio and television as a sports commentator and sports news presenter for many years. His amazing memory for details enabled him to work without the benefit of a script or teleprompter, on the wide variety of sports and sporting personalities.
Surujpat ‘Pat’ Mathura (1923-2007). Mathura started at Radio Trinidad where he had to purchase time and sell commercials to cover the cost of his programme, which focused on Indian culture on the subcontinent and around Trinidad. He stayed at Radio Trinidad for 47 years as an announcer, as well as producing radio programmes, with special emphasis on Indian art, culture, and religion.
Sham Mohammed (1936-1994). Mohammed is recognised especially for his starting the television talent series, Mastana Bahar, which he established in 1970, eight years after the arrival of television in this country in 1962.
Hazel Ward (1933-2014). Ward’s first job was as the first weather reporter at TTT in 1962. Before that, she was at Radio Trinidad. She hosted Teen Talent and Twelve and Under. These two shows were the starting point for many of T&T’s talented artistes. She also presented other programmes such as Mainly for Women but her main area was in her work with bringing the talent of children to the forefront.
Kathleen ‘Aunty Kay’ Warner (1904-1996). Popularly known as “Aunty Kay,” Warner was best known as the host of the popular radio programme Auntie Kay’s Children’s Hour, which was aired for 43 years, from 1942 to 1985. Many of Trinidad and Tobago’s performers made their debut on her show.
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