By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Dec. 30, 2013: The last Caribbean radio talk show on a traditional commercial radio station in New York City has been silenced.
The switch was pulled on ‘Caribbean Corner,’ with Trinidadian Rennie Bishop of WWRL’s 1600 AM radio Saturday evening, Dec. 28th as the station moved from a progressive talk show format to Spanish-language programming.
Access 1 Communications, which owns the station, switched formats in an effort to stay afloat, sources say. The growing Hispanic demographic, particularly in New York City, presented a move viable economic model, the board ruled, according to sources.
The format change means several staffers lost their jobs before Christmas and offers Caribbean nationals in New York fewer radio options. Caribbean Corner was aired every Saturday from 5-7 p.m. on the station. It featured many Caribbean journalists including Hard Beat’s Felicia Persaud, Caribbean journalist Tony Best and Caribbean Guyana Institute of Democracy President, Rickford Burke, as co-hosts with Bishop.
There is no Caribbean-owned radio station in New York City even though the city is home to tens of thousands of Caribbean migrants. According to the latest ‘Newest New Yorkers Immigration Report,’ released by New York City’s outgoing Mayor, Mike Bloomberg recently, nationals of Jamaica, Guyana, Haiti and Trinidad all make up the top eight immigrant groups in the Big Apple.
They can now listen to Caribbean radio programs online or programming that is largely entertainment and infomercial driven via brokered radio programming on 93.5 FM. WLIB, which was once a Caribbean formatted radio station, has long ended that run while WBAI’s Caribbean focused program has also been cut extensively with the release of Guyana-born radio host, Hugh Hamilton and the offering of programming in the wee hours of the morning to Caribbean-born hosts.
Company executives have not released an official statement on the change but the news hit social media and created a heated discussion on the future of Caribbean radio in the city with some insisting Caribbean immigrants need to band together to support their own while others agreed the future was largely in digital/Internet radio and the lack of advertising did not support a viable economic model for a traditional radio station.
WWRL Radio, or Woodside Radio Laboratory, was founded by William Reuman, and began broadcasting at 12:00 a.m. on Thursday, August 26, 1926 from a studio and transmitter in his home at 41-30 58th Street in Woodside, Queens, New York on a frequency of 1120 kHz.
In 1964 Reuman retired and sold the station to a group headed by Egmont Sonderling. The station’s format has shifted over the years, from an R & B radio station, to gospel and Caribbean programming. It also served at one time as the flagship for the now-defunct Air America Radio before moving back to progressive talk that included some Caribbean programming.
Access.1 is a 24-hour African American owned and operated radio broadcasting company which also owns and operates 7 AM and FM stations in Shreveport, LA; another 7 in Tyler-Longview-Marshall, Texas; another 6 FM and AM stations in Atlantic City, NJ and an NBC TV affiliate (WMGM-TV 40) in Atlantic City.