Veteran Jamaican Broadcaster Gil Bailey Receives “Golden Mic” Award

Veteran Jamaican Broadcaster Gil Bailey Receives "Golden Mic" Award

Gil Bailey with his “Golden Mic”

by Howard Campbell

NEW YORKA pioneer of West Indian radio in the United States, Gil Bailey celebrates 50 years on the airwaves in 2019. On August 11, organizers of the Merritone Family Fun Day recognized his contribution with a Golden Mic award at Heckscher Park in Long Island, New York.

He was among an impressive batch of trailblazing broadcasters who made an impact on New York radio during the 1970s and 1980s. Some of his contemporaries, including Jeff Barnes, Tony Cobb, Ken Williams, and Earl “Rootsman” Chin were also honored.

The list of awardees is completed by Clive Hudson, Jeff Sarge, Disco Kid, Safia Seivright, Francine Chin, Pat McKay, Sister Lovely, DJ Roy, Dubb Master Chris, Gem Morrison, Clinton Lindsay, Ellen “Pat” Bailey and Vonnie McGowan.

Bailey’s wife Pat Bailey and McGowan, were recognized posthumously.

From rural St. Thomas parish in eastern Jamaica, Bailey accepted the award two weeks after his The Gil Bailey Show debuted on YouTube and Facebook. Working in the new mediums has resuscitated his career.

“Everybody listened to me but they couldn’t see me, but now I am on YouTube and Facebook every evening from 6 pm to 10 pm. Now, people see me and I have fans all over the world,” he said.

Known as the Godfather, the jocular Bailey launched The Gil Bailey Show in 1969. He and Pat co-hosted that program on Caribbean radio stations such as WHBI, WNWK and WPAT, serving Caribbean listeners in the tri-state area a blend of reggae, calypso, soca and gospel music.

Pat, whom he married in 1969, died in December, 2016 at age 77.

Bailey, along with Cobb, Barnes and Williams, were the leading voices on Caribbean radio in the 1970s when there was little representation of the region’s culture on mainstream American radio.

The Merritone Family Fun Day, which is a calendar event in West Indian circles, celebrated its 21st anniversary this year. It is organized by the Blake brothers who have operated the Merritone sound system since 1956.

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