Jamaica, Land We Love: Winston Barnes
by Howard Campbell
[SOUTH FLORIDA] – It’s not unusual to hear how close large families are. It was no different with the Barnes family of Kingston which had nine children. Fourth of whom is Winston, long-serving commissioner for the city of Miramar.
He was born and raised between Greenwich and Whitfield towns along Spanish Town Road in the Jamaica capitol. Greenwich Town is a seafaring, working-class community with a rich musical legacy; Whitfield Town, just a stone’s throw away, has a similar demographic.
“Family was incredible. I was the master tree-climber, tinkerer, and maker of all things we could not afford, even a self-built wooden skate,” Barnes recalled. “We had a close-knit family with paternal grandmother living with us, which means that we had ‘country’ in our home if we didn’t visit or live there. Both mother Beryl and father Ivan worked out of the home. On reflection, a most happy household where we learnt to lean on each other.”
Winston is one of three brothers who attended Kingston College (KC). The others being Jeff, the eldest child, and Ed; all made their names as broadcasters in Jamaica and the United States.
The Barnes family were devout members of the Methodist Church, but Jeff, Winston and Ed went to a school with strong ties to the Anglican Church. At KC, Winston’s contemporaries included Frankie Campbell, bassist and founder of the Fabulous Five Band and singer/songwriter Lloyd Lovindeer.
While he did well in sports at the community level, excelling at high jump and soccer, Barnes said he never impressed the coaches at KC to make any of the senior teams. Where he made a mark was on radio.
Early Broadcasting Days
“I am one of the fortunate ones who came into broadcasting when veterans, foundation broadcasters like Archie Lindo, Tony Verity, Adrian Robinson and Neville Willoughby were still active in the business,” Barnes related. “Radio (in Jamaica) was basically two stations — RJR (Radio Jamaica), private-owned and operated and JBC (Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation), government-operated and funded.”
Although he had extended roles at both stations, Barnes is more associated with the JBC which had a colorful cast of broadcasters during the heady 1970s including Errol Thompson, the spouse of Marcia Griffiths, and Barrington “Barry G” Gordon.
After “going and coming” to the United States for several years, Barnes settled in the country and earned a Bachelor’s of Science degree from New York Institute of Technology, and a Masters of Science degree from Florida International University.
A Miramar commissioner since 2003, he is news director at WAVS 1170 AM Radio. Winston Barnes says his early life in Jamaica and his time in South Florida have been fulfilling.
“I would probably go back to the earliest years growing up with my siblings…most of those memories are of the best recollection,” he said. “Professionally, maybe 2003; I won my first election to the city commission, was awarded the Prime Minister’s Medal and my daughter Hannah was born the day before my late mother’s birthday.”