An inner city community radio station to serve the area youths of Kingston’s corporate area. Roots Fm is the first and only urban based community radio station in the English speaking Caribbean. UNESCO and Multicare Foundation donated all the equipment that was needed for the station to commence broadcasts. In March 1998 with Tony Young of JBC fame at its helm the station begun 24 hour programming across Kingston and St. Andrew.
A communication medium for the inner city operated by the hands and voices of Kingston ghettos. Two such communities Maxfield Ave and Trench Town have had representatives rotating music, producing, and reporting on important stories, all from a real life perspective. The array of talent have given the stations management much confidence in their mission and the impact of their staff on the communities audience has been nothing short of being phenomenal.
Roots Fm mandate of fulfilling change within the Kingston Inner cities has been tackled on many fronts, creative ways have been employed bridging the gap of literacy, conflict resolution and dispute mediation as well as AIDS – sexually transmitted virus forums have been instituted within the borders of these dark and fractured garrison communities to bring about hope.
Roots FM is under the directive of the board of Mustard Seed Communities, thus, the station is non profit/ independent community based station. This allows the programmers much latitude in discussing the political and religious culture of the society and what actions are needed to improve the quality of the lives of the people in the most depressed areas of Jamaica.
Roots Fm prides itself as a non political channel for disseminating relevant information from government and other agencies while affording feedback from these the affected communities. The station has served as a network between NGO’s who are committed to inner city development and their constituent.
Broadcast content has been carefully crafted to exclude the appearance of a submission to underground criminal element whom celebrate violence and mayhem. The programs on Roots Fm uplift rather than discriminate against women, there is neither disregard for law and order , nor advocates who support violent behaviour or discrimination based on race, colour, and creed. Drug abuse, lewdness, and the notion of illegal cults fuelling underground realities are strongly discouraged in every possible way afforded the station.
The station managers believe that while its format must be entertaining the programs must reflect the higher consciousness of the people of Kingston and St Andrew. Edifying and empowering the youths and massive to contribute in a positive way is the mantra which is celebrated every day through the stations theme song “I can see clearly now”.
The song is a constant reminder of the goals of contributing to the range and quality of decision making information that is available to residents of inner city communities. Adopted from Jimmy Cliffs rendition of the song, “I can see clearly now” is played daily at noon and presenters continuously encourage listeners to live their life through this song while waking up to a clear, bright and renewed day.
An important reason for the trust and rising support among listeners for this station has been achieved because each of the voice which is heard on the stations rotation comes from the inner city, making the voices that listeners hear the communities own.
About the Writer, Philip Dinham
Phil Dinham is a member of our Jamaica prime time news team. He remains a Jamaican citizen in Ft lauderdale, United States where he is studying Hospitality and Tourism management at broward community college. Philip is a certified media professional with over six years of experience in formal media relations and radio broadcasting. Comment on this article and all Jamaica Prime Time presentations by writing respective authors at [email protected]