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Ebony 104.1FM closes its doors

Published: 
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Fabrice Francios

Adult urban radio station Ebony 104.1FM has shut down its operations.

Popular radio announcer Fabrice Francois was in studio when he along with five other radio announcers were called to an emergency meeting where they were of the management’s decision on Friday.

At the end of the meeting, however, Francois was not allowed to return to studio to wrap up his “Drive Time Ebony with Fabrice” segment or to inform listeners of the sudden decision.

This year would have been 16 years for Francois at the Newtown, Port-of-Spain-based station, which had thousands of listeners locally and internationally via an online feed as far as Dubai. He along with six other radio announcers, who were the only ones employed at the radio station, are now left without a job.

Ebony 104.1FM was one of four radio stations locally owned and incorporated by its parent company, Caribbean Lifestyle Communications. The organisation also owns a film and video production company and a diverse event production and management company, according to its website. Its owner, executive chairman and CEO is Anthony Maharaj, fondly called Tony Maharaj.

The only written correspondence on the issue was given on Friday to employees during a meeting called by management to announce the termination of its operations. Maharaj’s daughter, Karishma Maharaj, administrative manager/director, signed the letter, which indicated a decision was taken to cease operations from February 16. The letter also said there was no practicability of placing any of them in another format, “as to do so would result in an impractical incompatibility.”

Karishma then thanked employees, including freelancer announcers, and wished them success in their future endeavours.

Some employees yesterday recalled being called to a meeting over a year ago and being told the station was not making money. Rumours also surfaced thereafter of a possible buy-out by another popular media company.

One former employee, who wished not to be identified, said: “In January, we were given notice to turn around the station in one month till after Carnival, but it was not possible because everyone’s focus would have been on fetes. Management said they tried everything but we saw that they didn’t…we always felt like the outside child in the network.”

Contacted yesterday via email on the decision, Karishma Maharaj would only say that “the format was no longer viable in the current market.”

“We have decided to discontinue the Ebony format as of 1st March 2018, as our findings indicated that this format was no longer viable in the current market. While this decision was difficult, we must keep up with market changes (as do many other companies in our local and global economic climate). We thank our listeners, clients and our exceptional on-air crew for their support. Stay tuned for what’s coming to 104.1FM,” Maharaj said.

Francois yesterday described Ebony as “part of his life,” having been there from inception in 2002.

“It leaves a void in my life right now,” Francois said.

Another radio announcer and staff member Adrian Don Mora was packing up his belongings at the station when he was contacted yesterday.

“I just want to relax as this is all still soaking in…It’s been a good ride…an excellent ride over the few years with the organisation,” Don Mora said.

“Unfortunately, it wasn’t viable, in at least management’s opinion, and they have made the decision to close down the brand or re-brand or do something.”

An ardent listener to the station was so shocked on the news that she took to her Facebook page and wrote: “I came back on my FB page just for a little while to catch up, not knowing that I will see the news of my favourite radio station Ebony 104.1 FM is no more…Music is one of my lifelines…The crew at Ebony keeps me sane with the music and I have grown to love them…”

Another loyal listener, Dominic Hosein, described the programming as “perfect while on the go.”

“The announcers were there for years so a connection was made with listeners and presenters. I wish management could have done more to keep them around. The quality was way better than many of the urban stations in TT. I will miss each and everyone of them,” Hosein said.

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