When did radio actually come to Grenada?
Sources differ and the reason may be some writers are talking about reception, attributed to short wave radio receivers owned by a minority of Grenadians picking up frequencies from off-island sources, and others about broadcasting, relay or transmission from within the island of Grenada.
The date stated for the arrival of radio in Grenada, in the limited resources on this subject, is the early 1950s, but some Grenadians had receivers which picked up news of WWII, among other topics. Radio was introduced into the British Caribbean in the 1930s.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), established in 1922, was founded by a group of radio manufacturers, including short wave. BBC News was relayed by East Caribbean stations. Grenadians and others of the Eastern Caribbean islands could keep up with world news as it happened, from the 1940s on. It follows, though not based on fact, that British radio equipment made its way to the Caribbean with war reports on the events in Europe from the Second World War.
In the text below, radio stations based in Grenada and those with frequencies which could be picked up by Grenadian radio receivers are discussed. If reference to historical information is made, the relation is to significant broadcasts via radio, and as such are written about within that context. For additional information on the event that triggered a specific broadcast, references can be found elsewhere on this site and through the literature listed in the bibliography.
Windward Islands Broadcasting Service [WIBS], 1954/1955 - 1971
Windward Islands Broadcasting Service (WIBS) was established 1954/1955 in a joint arrangement with Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. One source put the date as 1954; another in 1955.
In its beginning, WIBS was a short-wave radio network that linked the Grenadian short-wave transmitter to the short-wave transmitters on the three other islands - Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent. The premiers of these four countries worked under the administrative leadership of the West Indies Broadcasting Council until 1971.
WIBS was a regular on 5010, 11970 and several 15 MHz channels from the 50s, according to an Internet source from The Committee To Preserve Radio Verifications.
The headquarters of this non-commercial network, the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service (WIBS), was located at Morne Rouge, St. George, Grenada. All its workers were part of the Grenadian civil service system.
WIBS radio broadcasters, as observed by old-timers, had a decidedly British cast on tone and vocabulary. Patois or "mass" traditional language was discouraged, even if tacitly. Many broadcasters were BBC-trained. Many spoke slowly and emphatically with pointed clarity because they were cognizant of the variable reception available to listeners. Radio announcers speaking the Queen's English unified communication by using English as the standard.
Eric Matthew Gairy, Premier of Grenada, accumulated power in regard to WIBS by acting on various interim decisions between the meetings of the West Indies Broadcasting Council. In essence, even though he was to consult with the other council members, he owned home plate.
The WIBS station located in Grenada was commonly called 'Radio Grenada.' It had its formal inauguration in 1954 and officially became 'Radio Grenada' following the WIBS islands arrangement break-up in 1971, and was owned by the Grenada Broadcasting Service. The station broadcast British Broadcasting reports from the United Kingdom. Fondly the BBC Sports Roundup is remember to this day.
According to Alister Hughes in the "Grenada Newsletter":
Hughes later reported that in March 1957, the [Radio Grenada] station was "moved to its present location at Morne Rouge . . ."
"Radio Grenada was inaugurated by Britain's Princess Margaret on
6 February 1954 at a rally in Queen's Park, St. George's. At that time,
the station was located at Tanteen on the outskirts of St. George's and operated with 5 Kilowatts on short wave and a local service of 250 watts in the 49 meter band."
Staffing included Ray Smith who was an acting manager at WIBS. Smith later became President of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU, formed 1970).
D. Sinclair DaBreo was a broadcaster/program director from 1973-1974.
Broadcaster/journalist Leslie Michael Seon was a Program Director at WIBS, a Manager starting in 1970, and Director of Government Information. Seon was once a Gairy friend, but differences took them so far apart to the point where Seon was beaten by Gairy's police.
Basil Harford, BBC-trained, worked at WIBS, known as the 'best producer' in the region.
Jerry Romain was a WIBS announcer.
Claude Theobalds was a Program Manager for WIBS. In a 1971 interview with Lent in Kingston, Theobalds said:
The criticism of WIBS is that it is controlled by the premiers, and thus by politicians . . . WIBS rules, however, are set by the four premiers, but the manager of WIBS Grenada is responsible for day-to-day decisions.
Eventually WIBS in Grenada, according to Lent, had main offices, a network studio center, a receiver station, two 5-KW shortwave transmitter stations, and a local 550-watt transmitter.
In 1969 reorganization of WIBS began but the station ceased operations 31 December 1971, the result of unresolved conflicts between the governments of the Council.
The Grenada government, under the premiership of Gairy, began independent broadcasting the next day, 1 January 1972, as Radio Grenada.
In Alister Hughes' "Violations of Human Rights in Grenada," published August 1977, he states the follow:
With increasing frequency over the past decade there have been complaints that, first, the Windward Islands Broadcasting services (WIBS) and, subsequently, Radio Grenada, was and is being used as a political tool of the Government of Grenada United Labour Party.
Substance for these complaints was given as early as 1970 when the Manager of WIBS instituted a system in which persons and organisations issuing press releases would be broadcast "provided the necessary approval shall have been obtained".
Positive proof of the intention of the Government of the Grenada United Labour Party to use Radio Grenada as a political tool to the exclusion of all other sections of opinion was given by Prime Minister Eric Gairy in his contribution to the Budget Debate in April last . At that time, Mr. Gairy said Radio Grenada must be regarded as "an arm of Government."
Violations of human rights in this case appear to be against the following Articles of the United National Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 19 Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinion without interference and to see, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 21 (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country. (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedure.
Radio Grenada, 1972 - 1979
Radio Grenada was on medium wave frequency from [6 a.m.] 11:45 a.m. until 10:30 p.m. It also had a short wave frequency schedule at increasing MHz power throughout the day. Music filled most of the programming.
At this time, the powerful Radio Antilles from Montserrat, was broadcasting sixteen hours a day. TTNBS (610 Radio) from Trinidad was on air 5:25 a.m. to midnight with two music shows from 1 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. Music request shows were popular with all stations.
There was a staff of 29 at Radio Grenada [as it was called] in 1976 using record libraries and studio facilities located at the station.
Click on this link Radio Grenada - OAS Meeting for an example of a news item that contains words about God and Jewel Isolationists during the Seventh Regular Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) on 17 June 1977.
Jerome (Jerry) D.M. Romain, a Fellow of the Royal College of Broadcasters was Radio Announcer/Station Manager.
Edwin Frank was a newscaster; later he played a pivotal role at Radio Free Grenada.
The opposition party, New Jewel, lacked access to the only radio outlet on the island; in fact, even calypsonians associated with the New Jewel party had difficulty getting their performance dates announced.
This station became known, especially to the Opposition, as 'Radio Lionel' because the NJM felt it was filled with lies. The station was subject to an attempted takeover in 1972 and fire bombed 20 April 1973.
Additional and detailed information about the Gairy Government and Radio Grenada can be found at Gairy and the Media.
Radio Free Grenada (The Voice of the Revolution) at 15045 on your dial,
1979 - 1983
[NOTE: The Radio Free Grenada Building, including all record albums and tapes, was destroyed by U.S. forces on 26 October 1983.
"On reflection, it could be said that ours was largely a revolution by radio. The response by the masses was tremendous; it was stunning."
Quote from Maurice Bishop in Caribbean Contact, April 1979
On 13 March 1979, NJM troops took over the Radio Grenada station at Morne Rouge. Radio Grenada was usually guarded by six policeman and the revolutionary unit had arrived at the station with .303 rifles from the armoury. Hudson Austin, shaved and in disguise, had a tear gas pistol.
There is controversy over how much of a 'fight' went on before the NJM troops secured the station. Nevertheless, Maurice Bishop's first address to the nation on Radio Free Grenada at 09:48 a.m. began with these opening lines:
"Sisters and Brothers,
This is Maurice Bishop speaking. At 4.15 am this morning the People's Revolutionary Army seized control of the army barracks at True Blue.
The barracks were burned to the ground. After a half-an-hour struggle, the forces of Gairy's army were completely defeated, and surrendered.
Every single soldier surrendered, and not a single member of the revolutionary forces was injured.
At the same time, the radio station was captured without a single shot being fired . . ."
Radio Grenada Station Manager Jerome Romain was taken into custody13 March 1979, the day of the coup. He was released on 24 April 1979, but re-detained 6 November 1979 and held for an incarceration that lasted until late October 1983.
Broadcasting began quickly in the early morning hours of 13 March 1979. Continuous bulletins and communiques were issued, interspersed by music. The radio was playing Valentino's 'Stand Up Zimbabwe,' for example. One of Bishop's more well-known speeches A Bright New Dawn" (see also opening quotes above) was aired at 10:30 a.m.
The radio station building had become temporary headquarters for the revolutionary government. Meetings were held in the studios and halls. Studio 2 seemed the focal point.
Detained Gairy Government Ministers were brought to the radio station building near Grand Anse following the initial assault at True Blue Army barracks. Those included Police Commissioner Osbert James; Winston Masanto, Commander of the Grenadian Army, and Jerry Romain, Station Manager of Radio Grenada, among others.
By 5 a.m., Bishop, Coard, Whiteman, Austin and George Louison were meeting. Missing were Radix who was in NY, Strachan in Cuba, and Vincent Noel in jail [soon to be released]. The announcement of a Revolutionary Cabinet was made from Radio Free Grenada (RFG) at 5:15 a.m.
Persons associated with the Gairy government began their on-air messages. Gairy's wife, Cynthia Gairy, surrendered voluntarily and urged others over the radio not to offer resistance. She was not arrested. George Hosten, Gairy's Deputy Prime Minister, broadcast over the radio that all GULP supporters should 'cooperate with the new Government. They are in full control of the situation and we want to avoid bloodshed.' Herbert Preudhomme, Gairy's Deputy Premier broadcast a message that day calling on supporters of the old regime to cease their resistance.
Grenada's Governor General Paul Scoon transmitted his message on RFG to the people on 15 March 1979, two days later:
At the earliest time, and with the appropriate advice and co-operation, I shall do everything possible to ensure that we have a working arrangement of which all Grenadians can be justly proud . . .
May God bless you all.
The Proclamation of Laws were announced on Radio Free Grenada. People's Law #10 pointed to the seriousness and gravity of proclamations read over radio:
For the time being, all People's Laws shall become effective upon oral declaration and/or on publication of Radio Free Grenada by the Prime Minister or in the official Gazette under the hand of the Prime Minister.
By the time RFG went on air, the radio station equipment was outdated, being vintage WWII cast-offs from Britain and other donated sources. The end result was a maddening search for replacement parts, or innovative gim-crack substitutes. The search for donated and new equipment was paramount and continued until the day RFG was shut down.
Staffing of RFG in the first year was greatly influenced by the appointment 14 March 1979 of Phyllis Coard, Deputy Secretary of Information. She had studied communications in school in Jamaica.
April 14, 1979 the NJM sent Paul Roberts, a staffer, to Jamaica on a four-week course. There he met Patrick Smikle, Beezo [Brian Meeks], Joan Ross, and Gladstone [Willis], all who would be working at Radio Free Grenada. Paterson remarks that Phyllis [Coard] had been the link to these people through her connections with the Workers Communist Party (WCP).
By the end of July 1979, Radio Free Grenada was going to be "broadcasting to the United States/Canada and Great Britain on short wave on 15.045 MHZ, 19 Meter Band between 1730 hours and 2100 hrs. Monday - Sunday. England: 2330 hrs and 100 hrs:", according the 'Grenada News'.
The first "Face the Nation" broadcast on Radio Grenada with Finance Minister Bernard Coard took place 5 September 1979; the second, and last program of that name, was broadcast 31 December 1979 with Acting Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Lloyd Noel. People phoned the studio with their questions and journalists asked questions from the radio station studio.
In December 1979, Gairy was broadcasting on WLIB out of New York.
Phyllis Coard was appointed Secretary for Woman's Affairs in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Social Affairs (Culture & Women's Affairs, Community Development, Cooperatives & Sports) and left her position as Deputy Secretary for Information. On 19 September 1980, Colville 'Kamau' McBarnette was appointed Deputy Secretary for Information. He also became Manager of Radio Free Grenada. Caldwell Taylor is Ambassador to the United Nations at this time. He was Secretary (Junior Minister) for Information and Culture.
In December 1980 Czechoslovakia signed a Protocol on Cooperation between Radio Free Grenada and Czechoslovak Radio. The agreement provided for the exchange of programs and correspondents as well as for the training of two editors from Grenada to participate in Czechoslovak Radio's 'training seminars.'
The proposed new Party Headquarters of May 1981 was supposed to have a radio transmission room.
By summer 1981, more than 20 radio stations could beam into Grenada on a daily basis. These included Guyana B. Service at 559 Khz, Radio Trinidad [with a B.B.C. newsprogram] at 730 Khz, Radio 610 from Trinidad at 610 Khz, Radio Free Grenada [with B.B.C. news] at 540 Khz, Radio St. Vincent at 705 Khz, Radio Barbados at 900 Khz, Radio St. Lucia at 665 Khz, Dominica B. Service at 595 Khz, Antigua B. Service at 620 Khz, Radio Z D K of Antigua at 1100 Khz, Radio ZIZ of St. Kitts at 555 Khz, Radio Antilles of Montserrat at 930 Khz, WSEX of St. Croix at 940 Khz, and Z B Y 1 of the U.S. Virgin Islands at 780 Khz.
George Worme was sub-editor in the News Department for Radio Free Grenada. He had worked in broadcasting starting at Radio Grenada in 1978. His tenure continued when Radio Grenada became Radio Free Grenada. Worme precipitously left RFG near the end of July, 1981. The Acting Manager of RFG at the time was Colville 'Kamau' McBarnette.
November 1981 Radio Free Grenada's new 75 kw transmitter [previously 1 kw] was located at Beausejour on the island's west coast some 5 miles north of St. George's. Grenadians had been listening in to Voice of America (VOA) and/or Radio Antilles. The Soviet Union donated the transmitter, Cuban and Soviet technicians built an edifice and a 400 foot transmitting tower. RFG operated on a frequency of 950 kw in the medium band wave. PM Maurice Bishop launched the new transmitter with a speech on 11 March 1982 honoring Radio Free Grenada.
RFG's studios and main transmitter plant were located at Morne Rouge some 5 miles south of St. George's. Radio personalities included Earl Bousquet as News Direstor, Lew Smith, Ray Roberts, Eugenie Johnson, Edwin Frank, Keith Nelson, Chris Baptiste. Peter David was, in 1981, on a 5-month course in Canada and New York, returning in November.
Radio programming on RFG circa 1982 included music [a big favorite], news, sports and religious programming. There also was local information including obituaries, government notices, public affairs and radio bingo.
Repeating segments were promotional spots for PRG organizations, including the National Women's Organization, the Center for Popular Education, Pioneer's Recruitment, Heroes Day and Carnival. For a time, news programs included news from the BBC, but this eventually was discontinued as a RFG program.
Radio personalities included Lew Smith, Program Director 1982 to May, 1983; Peter David, General Manager. Sheryl Fletcher co-anchored the evening news on RFG. Others were Jerry Grant and Jerry Malcolm.
RFG's broadcasting station moved from Morne Rouge to Scott Street.
A new 50-watt radio transmitter was dedicated 11 March 1982 by Maurice Bishop with a signal strength that covered the Eastern Caribbean. The Cuban Radio and Television Institute provided programming, and Prensa Latin, the news. The AM radio transmitter was provided under a Cuban agreement for technical and scientific cooperation with the People's Revolutionary Government. The official opening occurred before the weekend of celebrations of the Third Anniversary of the Grenada Revolution, and included Grenadians and special guests. On 11 March 1982, Prime Minister Maurice Bishop made an Address to the Launching of R.F.G.'s Medium Wave Transmitter, Beausejour, Grenada.
NOTE ALERT - VARYING INFORMATION: In one account, the one kilowatt transmitter was replaced by a seventy-five kilowatt transmitter using Soviet equipment and installed by Cuban and Soviet technicians. In another account Cuba sent a 50-kilowatt transmitter. Whatever the transmitter strength, the transmitter was said to broadcast to Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, the Caribbean, parts of North and Central America, and even parts of Europe. Go figure.
At the opening, Deputy Secretary for Information and Manager of Radio Free Grenada (RFG) Kamau McBarnette, made an address in which he said the station would be:
"A voice of peace, justice and national liberation, and committed to the New Information Order, he stressed."
[NOTE: Follow the link New World Information and Communications Order]
Additional speakers at the 11 March ceremony were Resbetty, a member of Political Bureau of the Cuban Communist Party; Selwyn Strachan, member of the People's Revolutionary Government, and Peter David, a member of RFG [Radio Free Grenada] staff.
Electricity outages have always plagued the island. For a radio station, with its implicit mandate to inform no matter the weather, a backup generator continued broadcasts. The backup generator was often faulty.
The summer of 1982, it was agreed, upon Bishop's visit to the Soviet Union, that TASS will distribute in Grenada, English-language news service and provide receiving equipment. Bishop received for Grenada a ten-year credit of $7.7 million. The funds were for construction of a land station (called a satellite earth station) linked to a Soviet communications satellite, which included radio and television signals.
The receipt of a communications satellite dish was announced at 5 August 1982 at a press conference by Prime Minister Maurice Bishop. The dish enabled the island to receive directly all television and radio programmes broadcast in the Soviet Union.
Previously Cuba and the PRG had signed an agreement which included high frequency radio transmission between the two islands. In November 1982 Cuba donated a 75-kilowatt transmitter to Radio Free Grenada "to enable the station to broadcast revolutionary news and messages of solidarity" into the Caribbean and Latin America.
On 9 November 1982, according to Falcoff:
"When the Grenadian government was exploring the possibility of installing a satellite dish linking the island to InterSputnik, the Soviet international telecommunications organization, they met with officials of the Cuban Ministry of Communications, who explained the capabilities of the system and offered to provide technicians familiar with the equipment to install telephonic centrals manufactured in the GDR."
By October of 1982 religious programming on Radio Free Grenada was reduced.
In early 1983, RFG would extend its normal 16-hour broadcasting schedule to 24-hour alert status.
On 24 May 1983, Bishop met with Soviet Ambassador Genady Sazhenev in Grenada. The Prime Minister informed Sazhenev that RFG would have to be closed down because the transmitter could no longer be repaired. It appeared there were no available funds for the PRG to purchase a new transmitter. Bishop proposed to arrange to have the media get the outline of the problems and assistance needed, to the Ambassador before he left.
Former station manager, Peter David was appointed Deputy Secretary for Information in July/August 1983. According to a July 1983 document, there was to be a "systematic phasing out of religious programmes on RFG starting with overseas programmes.
By August 1983, a PRG supporter from the United States was commenting that radio equipment could be found in the States and be useful for Radio Free Grenada.
After 12 August 1983, a code - "THE BIRDS ARE FLYING" - was to be repeated by Radio Free Grenada announcers every two minutes to alert the Armed Forces - in case of enemy attack.
With 24-hour programming at Radio Free Grenada, by September 1983 the air-conditioning system in the Morne Rouge studio was overworking. Air-conditioning is vital to radio station equipment maintenance. The hours between midnight and five in the morning were "back to back" music because funds were insufficient to hire announcers, and at an overtime rate. The twenty-four hour service was threatening broadcasting equipment and shooting up fuel and electricity costs.
RFG's staff in September 1983 included Keith Welsh, Cheryl Fletcher, Patrick Smikle, Edwin Frank, Harold Pysadee, Richard Simon, Sherma Thornhill, Chaney Joseph, Rudolph Louison, Merrie Antoine, Lincoln Depradine, Donna Lee Redhead. During one meeting with Media Staff the Minister of Information, Selwyn Strachan, pointed out, with strong criticism, the failings of staff at Radio Free Grenada, the Free West Indian and Television Free Grenada.
Besides RFG, Grenadians could receive broadcasts from Radio Trinidad, Radio Guardian, Radio Barbados, Radio Antilles, Radio Dominica, Radio St. Vincent and Radio St. Lucia. About 95% of Grenadians had radio reception or access to radio reception. Most radios were powered by batteries. Electrical outages, dead batteries and bad weather accounted for most cases of poor reception.
The October crisis which had become apparent certainly by 12 October 1983 was reflected on Radio Grenada in bulletins, announcements, speeches, directions and revolutionary music.
The 25-member staff of RFG met all day at the Morne Rouge Station; those in the RFG Public Affairs division were not informed of the meeting, according to Sadiq, but were informed later of conflict within the Party and Bishop's house arrest.
The regional media, on the other hand, including Voice of America from Antigua, and the BBC short-wave station, were broadcasting that Grenada was under a military take-over.
One reporter from Barbados managed to make his way to Grenada. Neville Martindale from the Barbados "Nation" evaded arrest. Martindale returned to Barbados via St. Vincent and Trinidad. He wrote of the public protests on 14 October which occurred outside the offices of the 'Free West Indian.'
By 15 October 1983, the first wave of overseas journalists being thwarted from entering Grenada laid a pattern for the days to come until the end of the month. Nine journalists were refused entry at Pearls Airport.
Some of that group worked their way to the Spice Isle by their own devices.
Journalists and photographers on the island 15-16 October 1983 were:
- Wilie Alleyne, photographer, Barbadian AP Press Photographer
- Albert Branford, reporter, from CANA Barbados
- Nat Carnes, reporter, AP/Puerto Rico Caribbean Desk Editor
- Charles Hackett, photographer, Barbados Sunday Nation
- Linda Prout, reporter, Newsweek
- Roso (sic) Sabalones, photographer, UPI
The photographers were eventually arrested by plain clothes security people, man-handled and searched, but Hackett managed to smuggle out his film in a sock when they were deported, so to speak, by airplane. The Barbados Sunday Nation of 16 October 1983 featured Hackett's photos of the 300-strong pro-Bishop demonstration in Market Square of 15 October led by Radix and Fitzroy Bain.
Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reporter Dwight Whylie was almost arrested.
According to O'Shaughnessy, "Before being taken to Pearls the reporters were told by the chief of immigration that they had arrived at an inconvenient time. 'This is an inter-party problem,' the official said, 'we don't want anyone reporting it until it is finished and then you will be invited back in'."
On the 18th October, Whiteman had gone on Radio Antilles and had contacted regional radio journalists. Since so many regional stations could be heard in Grenada, Whiteman was able to make the case for his opposition to the Central Committee decision and give his version of events.
Also on the 18th, Alimenta Bishop had spoken over Trinidad's Radio 610 by phone about her son. She had been interviewed by that station two days before. This time she had reported the resignation of Cabinet Ministers and economists at the airport in protest at her son's detention.
Announcements were flying fast and furious on RFG. Bishop, Cornwall and Austin were making broadcasts on RFG during the period of crisis. Still, nothing was given away in parts of the latest news the PRG did not want on any RFG broadcast.
People wanted to know what happened to Maurice Bishop. Regional radio was able to tell them, and to give support to those who were concerned about Bishop.
On 19 October 1983 tragedy upon tragedy occurred at Fort Rupert and the Prime Minister, part of his cabinet and others were executed.
On 20 October 1983, mediator Michael Als, PRA Commander Einstein Louison, PRA General Hudson Austin, an Army witness and others went on radio to explain what happened. It was on this day that ham radio operators from the Medical School began sending out reports.
On the 21st a broadcast came from Radio Havana.
"While the Grenadian radio station [RFG] was mute about the events of Wednesday, apart from putting out the RMC declarations, Grenadians tuned in and heard the worldwide condemnation of the Wednesday massacre from the many regional stations which could be picked up; Radio Antilles, the Voice of America, the BBC, the stations in Barbados and Trinidad, St. Vincent and many other islands."
22 October 1983 - On RFG Christopher Stroude spoke about upcoming plans for the country while short-wave broadcasts were talking about US troops on their way.
At 05:30 hours on 25 October 1983 listeners to Radio Free Grenada (RFG) heard a male voice and a female voice hysterically announcing the assault.
The two announcers at RFG read from a prepared script over and over. Songs played were by Peter Tosh and Swallow and Shortshirt, tunes like 'Stand Up Grenada' and Bob Marley's "Stand Up For Your Rights."
FEMALE VOICE . . . You should report to your militia bases immediately . . . Why? . . . Because we are under attack . . .
MALE VOICE . . . Defend our homeland! We shall win! We shall beat them back! We shall bury them in the sea! Them have to get a beating!
FEMALE VOICE . . . At 5:30 this morning, foreign troops began landing in our country! Our armed forces are engaging them in fierce battle . . . All doctors, nurses, medics, report to the hospital immediately.
MALE VOICE . . . We shall beat them back . . . Militia come out now! Together with the People's Revolutionary Army, we will save our country . . .
FEMALE VOICE . . . The Revolutionary Military Council is calling on all friendly countries to condemn this act of aggression, and immediately come to Grenada's aid.
The station was silent and empty by 8 a.m. The 75,000-watt Soviet-Built transmitter of Radio Free Grenada at Beausejour on the West Coast was knocked out within hours of the first landing by the US, primarily following a counter-attack by PRA forces.
On the morning of 25 October 1983, the offices of Radio Free Grenada were secured by US forces, so secured because the Navy SEALS blew up the station. The smaller [radio] transmitter at Morne Rouge was knocked out later that day when the adjacent studios were flattened by an attack from the air.
According to Edwin Frank of RFG:
"Around six p.m. next day, the 26th, we saw the helicopters arrive and land on the beach and turn around facing RFG and then start blasting the place up. They were shooting from the beach direct at the station, and there were planes dropping bombs as well. A lot of explosions. They completely licked the place up, although they met no resistance.
I lost hundreds of my personal albums in there."
Shorty before dusk, according to O'Shaughnessy -
The last major engagement of the invasion took place between Point Salines and St. George's. Shortly before dusk on Wednesday [26 October 1983] the US forces seized the Grand Anse Campus of the St. George's University Medical School where the bulk of the US students had been beleaguered since the invasion had got under way a day and a half before. After an aerial bombardment by helicopter gunships and Hercules, men of the 82nd Airborne took the premises and stood guard over the students while the last resistance was crushed at Radio Free Grenada. The students were helicoptered out to Point Salines as the battle ebbed between the US paratroopers and the Grenadian and Cuban defenders."
According to a Grenadian,
. . . many of the old music which were only recorded on tapes were lost when the Radio Station WIBS-RFG-RG was bombed on October 25-26, 1983. We lost years and years of great calypso music then.
Their place [the destroyed radio transmitters at Beausejour and Morne Rouge] was taken by a mobile transmitter brought ashore and operated by the US Navy which itself was superseded by 'Spice Island Radio' - Radio 1580 - manned by Grenadians using US Army equipment. The short wave transmitter was destroyed during the 'intervasion.'
The mobile transmitter was replaced with a permanent facility on 9 December 1983, broadcasting with 20KW. According to the Grenadian Voice, Radio Grenada resumed using two frequencies in the medium wave band 99KH and 535 KH. The article said:
The advisory council said a 5.00 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily schedule will be introduced shortly and the station is to be managed by BBC trained Grenadian, Norbert 'Bunny' Fletcher.
Broadcasting house at Morne Rouge, some 4 miles south of St. George's was demolished during the United States rescue mission, and the 50 KW transmitting station, built by the Cubans at Beausejour on the West Coast 5 miles north of St. George's was put out of action.
Radio Grenada is now located at Point Saline near the international airport project.
Appreciation and acknowledgement to John A. Lent's interviews with Grenadian editors and program directors found in "Third World Mass Media and Their Search for Modernity" and the Journalism Quarterly article "Mass Media in Grenada."
For additional and detailed information, please check out these links:
Newspapers - Overview
Gairy and Media
The Spark, 2 February 1975
The Spark, [March 1975]
Torchlight and the PRG
Grenadian Voice and the PRG