Merritone Family Festival to Celebrate Jamaican Radio Pioneers in NYC

By Aubrey Campbell

NEW YORKThe twenty-first (21) staging of the Merritone (Memorial) Family Fun Day, at the Heckscher State Park, in East Islip, Long Island, will be a blast from the past, literally.

The all day, family-oriented funfest is adding another dimension to an already crazy, entertaining schedule, an ode to the persons and personalities that have helped to shape and maintain the Jamaican radio landscape, here in the Northeastern USA.

Sunday, August 11, 2019 will be declared Jamaican Radio Day at the Merritone Family Festival.

Held annually for the past 21 years, the Merritone Family Festival this year, will spotlight pioneers of the Jamaican American Brokered Radio Fraternity from as early 1970 through to 1995.

“These first 25 years, widely regarded as the Golden Years of Jamaican Radio, showcased well over sixty (60) radio contributors and independent content providers,” noted Janice Julian, one of the principals behind the concept.

Merritone Family Festival to Celebrate Jamaican Radio Pioneers in NYC such as Gil Bailey

Gil Bailey

The era saw radio personality greats such as Gil Bailey, Earl Chin, Ken Williams, Jeff Barnes, Clive Hudson, Jeff Sarge, Tony Cobb, Disco Kid, Safia Seivright, Francine Chin, Pat McKay, ‘Sister Lovely’ and Gem Morrison, who are among the many veterans who will recognized and awarded for their outstanding contribution to the development and preservation of the Jamaican and Caribbean culture, via radio, here in the New York/tristate area.

Merritone Family Festival to Celebrate Jamaican Radio Pioneers in NYC such as Pat McKay

Pat McKay

“The collective contributions of those who have and are still gracing the airwaves of WHBI, WRTN, WLIB and many others, will be acknowledged and celebrated at the ‘radio village’, throughout the day at the festival,” according to Conroy Allison, producer/host of the Annual Merritone Family Festival and host of the Winners’ Circle, a weekly one hour radio magazine, heard on WVIP, 93.5 FM, 11:00 am – 12 noon.

Posthumous awards will also be given to Ellen “Pat” Bailey and Vonnie McGowan. McGowan spent her last years in Florida.

“Going forward, the plan is to recognize these individual and personalities, pioneers if you will, each year, offered Allison”, himself a veteran discJock, going back to the days when WLIB was the station of record for the Caribbean community.

The Jamaican Radio Day is expected to reunite radio personalities from WHBI, WNWK, WPAT, WRTN, WVIP, WWRL, WKCR, WNYU and WFMU (Fordham University), with friends from sister stations WLIB and WBLS, regarded also as key influencers in the Jamaican radio market in the early days.

Data from 1970 to 2019 shows well over 150 djs, announcers and broadcasters who have graced the airwaves in the arena of brokered radio, however the initiative will focus on a half a century of contributions and the contributors.

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