25 YEARS AGO ON AMBERGRIS CAYE   BY ANGEL NUÑEZ

No Television, Only Radio


T
elevision is pretty new to San Pedro. It came many years after it was available to the world. It did not reach San Pedro until the 1980’s. Before cable television, people relied on the radio for most of its communications from abroad and nationally.

Sports, entertainment, music, culture, and drama all came by way of radio. People used to tune in to radio stations in Honduras, Mexico, and even United States to listen to baseball only. All other sports were non-available. The British Honduras Broadcasting Corporation provided us with daily news, music and songs from international artists, romantic music and mariachi music.

For real good music, people used to tune in to one or two stations in Honduras- from Tegucigalpa, La Ceiba and San Pedro Sula. Honduranean sportscasters used to thrill us with their speed and eloquence in narrating soccer. These guys could speak 5 to 6 hundred words per minute and never fumbled.

Now for good weather updates and forecasts people used to catch, with some difficulty, a radio station in Cayman Island. Cayman used to re-transmit weather updates from Miami, or it might be the other way around, but when one heard that the weather forecasts came from Cayman, he could depend on it. Those forecasts and bulletins were particularly useful during the hurricane season.

Harlingen, Texas used to provide us with country and western and that good accordion Tex, Mex music that is still very popular today. Believe it or not, that station is very far, but those old time radios used to pick it up very easily. To get a better reception, we used to set up high antennas with bamboos and wire and this increased reception considerably. There used to be this weird guy who used to wake up a three in the morning and placed his radio on his verandah and blast out loudly the Tex, Mex music. Trust me, in the quiet of the night, it sounded very loud, but because everyone loved that music, nobody complained nor grumbled.

We could not make any phone calls to any call in shows. Sometimes Belize news came in two or three days late or old. When fishermen were out at sea and a hurricane was imminent and threatening, family members used to send messages to their loved ones by radio. All emergencies were handled by way of the radio. A message went like this: “Antonio Fascasio, come home immediately. Your daughter is in the hospital.” Another one sounded like this: “ Esta cancion es dedicada a Margarita con todo amor y cariño de parte de Roberto. (This song goes out to Margarita with lots of love from Roberto.) I particularly used to enjoy this radio message: “Message to Pablo somewhere out at sea in Glover’s Reef or Turneffe Area. Your baby girl has been born and all is well. Do not rush to come to San Pedro.” I liked it so much I used to dream of the time when I would grow and be able to receive such a radio message. It sounded so cool.

At this time I am talking about, there was only one radio station in the entire country of Belize, the British Honduras Broadcasting Corporation. Later it became Radio Belize. Everything was channeled through that station for there were none in the districts, much less San Pedro. I remember radio personalities like Eustache Usher, Everal Waight, Severo Pinto and Neima Villanueva. Seferino Coleman used to be the number one anchor man at Radio Belize for many years. He also used to be the number one showman and comedian of Belize, and it was through the radio that he became renown. And who was the San Pedro radio personality? Not in the records 25 years ago.

Long before the coming of television to Belize we had the radio. There was one national radio all the way back into the 1950's and it was the B H B C, the British Honduras Broadcasting Corporation of Belize. As you might already know, British Honduras was the name of our country because it was a British Colony.

B H B C was a national radio station that transmitted to all parts of the country. Obviously there were favorite personalities and favorite programs. One of the favorite male personalities was Edison Seferino Coleman whose artistic name was Sefe. Coleman was a comedian and did El Retorno de Seferino. He was also a powerful news Anchor. A favorite female personality was Lidia Ramirez, who hosted a children's program, Rincon Infantil. She played the guitar, sang, did stories and riddles and also enabled children and parents to send their requests and greetings.

Lydia De Ramirez-El Indito

Rincon Infantil, Radio Belize, 1965

The government operated radio station was not a political radio station . It was nationalistic and used by everyone. At one point the name of this station was changed to Radio Belize? Later on the station was privatized and its name was changed to Love F M. This still remains the only national station that reaches all corners of Belize.

As the years went on, Belize City saw the addition of more radio stations like Estereo Amor, Kremendala, and Vibes Station, the latter two being political operations. About 16 years ago San Pedro witnessed the coming of its radio station, Reef Radio. During this same interval there was a blossoming of radio stations all over the country- in Cayo, two in Orange Walk, Corozal and Punta Gorda. Only Stann Creek and Belmopan do not boast of a radio station. Among all of these, only Love FM transmits nationwide, just like its parent organization, B H B C. It is difficult to comment on the other radio stations because they do not transmit nationwide and we do not get to listen nor enjoy. This is in a nutshell, the development of radio in Belize.

Good old days, the days of the radio twenty five years ago. Today people are more in tune with television, which is a pity, for television is foreign and radio is very much local.


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