The End of an Era for Quality Grenadian Broadcasting.
A Tribute to the Late George Grant by Kellon Bubb.
To say that I am heartbroken and saddened at the passing of George Grant would be an understatement. To suggest that George would leave a gaping void in Grenada’s radio broadcasting landscape is also an understatement. Grenada lost a man who carried with him great institutional memory of a time when Grenada (as home to the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service during the colonial era, and Radio Grenada in the immediate post-independence period) exhibited the highest standards of Journalism and Broadcasting in the Eastern Caribbean. It’s hard to imagine this reality in 2020. So much has changed, and standards have become second fiddle in this new digital media ecosystem. George’s professional development was formed in an era when Journalists and Broadcasters deemed their role not merely as having a day job but as one which was a diligent and joyful vocation in the pursuit of the highest canons of truth, service, accountability and satisfying the public’s need know.
He was part of the first generation of Broadcasters such as Lew Smith, Josephine Mc Guire, Shirma Wells, Eugenie Mason, Michael Pascal, Anthony Julien, Leslie Seon and many more. They all represented Grenadian media with impeccable pride and tenacious perseverance. His passion for Journalism and Broadcasting was reflected by the degree to which he invested time and professional capital in developing a morning programme that captured the civic spirit of Grenada at different points in the country’s modern post-independence history. The Sundays with George Grant radio show played host to many of Grenada’s political movers and shakers. He gave voice to farmers, social workers, activists, bankers, the private sector and legal fraternity, members of civil society, and those of us who reside in different diaspora communities and still maintain a vested interest in Grenada’s development.
The impact of George Grants programme was such that it became part of many listeners’ morning routines and a mainstay in the dissemination of timely and relevant information. I submit that he performed the critical role of highlighting socioeconomic and political affairs in a format that was unique and groundbreaking for Grenadian media in the early to mid-2000s. Before Facebook developed its live format for the distribution of media content, George used the “shoutbox” plug-in on his radio show to have interactive engagement with his captive audience. It is no surprise therefore, that he named his radio station Chime FM in 2014. During the launch of the station Grant opined that, “any music that is not uplifting will not be played on the station. No yelling and screaming, no demeaning music to women”. He added that Chime FM “was born out of a call by Grenadians for a lifting of the bar in Grenadian radio broadcasting”. Unfortunately, the station became ensnared in a licensing brouhaha with the National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission and its license was since revoked.
It is safe to say that many relied on the show for information that other media outlets in Grenada neglected to publish, either due to institutional and professional neglect or because of a fear of reprisals from the governing power structure on the island. The programme was valuable to many because it was one of the few independent voices on the island in an era of social media saturation and shrinking professional media, journalism, and broadcast standards. There was nothing superficial concerning his approach and execution. Might I also suggest that Grant was one of the few broadcasters who spoke truth to power in the spirit of the late Leslie Pierre and Alister Hughes. Hughes and Pierre risked the cocoon of personal and economic safety during the Grenada Revolution to shine a light of accountability on the work of the Maurice Bishop regime. In George, we had our own Tim Russert and David Frost, a man who lived his passion and never worked a day in his life because of it.
Some in today’s media care more about their egos and maintaining a veneer of safety by engaging in self-censorship. Some also seem to care only about access to the levers of power than they do about the fundamental principles of broadcasting and journalism. George Grant, on the other hand, served with his heart, his compassion, and, most importantly, his honor. He was one of the few courageous voices in Grenada that attempted to hold the powerful to account in a manner dissimilar to what currently obtains on the island. He was a consummate professional from whom I learned a whole lot. May media workers, broadcasters and journalists honor him not only by serving up rosy platitudes at this sad moment in time, but by also challenging ourselves to do the work we are called to do. This work should require a commitment to serve the public in a manner that will not question our professionalism, impartiality, independence, integrity, and credibility to the best extent possible in this current environment.