Vincentian broadcaster honored with Lifetime Achievement Award

Vincentian broadcaster honored with Lifetime Achievement Award
Velda Ashton

The Brooklyn-based St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017 honored veteran Vincentian broadcaster and journalist Don Bobb with its Lifetime Achievement Award.

Bobb was honored at the group’s Second Annual Heritage Awards at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn.

The Diaspora group also presented Cultural Awards to Donna Weekes, Cultural Ambassador Winston Soso, Godfrey “Cherry” Ince, Ainsley Primus and Gordon “Don” Sutherland.

Ruby Wood, owner of the Brooklyn-based Square Deal Shippers and Movers, retired Registered Nurse Laverne Munro, and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Organization of Pennsylvania received the Humanitarian Award.

Former West Indies cricketer, manager and sports broadcaster T. Michael Findlay, national netballer Peggy Ince Hull, Marc Cordice and the late Neusam “Sam” DeBique were inducted in the Sports Hall of Fame.

N’Keal Harry was also presented with the Sports Award.

“Well am extremely grateful for the recognition of my work, especially by my fellow Vincentians,” Bobb told Caribbean Life after the Awards Ceremony. “As you know, over the years, I’ve been the recipient of numerous professional and community awards for my work at WLIB radio in New York City.

“But, to me, when a Lifetime Achievement Award comes from my fellow Vincentians, there’s an unbelievable sense of pride and accomplishment that I didn’t disappoint in giving my best at all times in executing the challenges of my chosen profession – not just as a radio disc-jockey but as a journalist, news presenter and producer of radio programs that were both informative and educational,” he added.

But Bobb quickly added, that there were other awards that stand out, which, he said, he was “especially proud,” pointing to the Prime Minister Award from then St. Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister James F. Mitchell in 1991, and the Congressional Award in 2004 from the then representative of the 10th US Congressional District in Brooklyn, Edolphus “Ed” Townes.

Donald “Don” Bobb said he began his broadcasting career in October 1970 at the then Government Information Service in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Two weeks later, he said he was assigned to sit in for the regular announcer and present his first live newscast on the local sub-station of the Windward Islands Broadcasting Service (WIBS), serving the islands of Grenada, St. Lucia, Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Subsequently, he said he was the regular relief newscaster in the absence of the lone news person.

As each of the Windward Islands was developing its own radio station — St. Lucia and Dominica had theirs — Bobb said he was dispatched to the headquarters of WIBS in Grenada for formal training.

He noted that St. Vincent and the Grenadines was the last to build its own station, 705 Radio. The island had provided an abbreviated broadcasting service from its studio on Bay Street in capital Kingstown, Bobb said.

Through “the luck of being the announcer on duty at the time,” Bobb said he was the first to broadcast from the new station in Richmond Hill, near the St. Vincent Grammar School, in Kingstown.

In 1975, Bobb said the government sent him to England for formal training in broadcasting at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in London, with internships at BBC affiliates Radio Mersey in Liverpool and BBC Edinburgh, Scotland.

On his return, Bobb said, besides his role as the regular announcer on duty, he produced and presented two shows — both on Saturday nights — the fast-paced news program, “Newsbeat,” followed by the Saturday night music show highlighting the latest international music, as identified in the Billboard music magazine.

In April 1979, Bobb said he resigned and left St. Vincent and the Grenadines for Montserrat to work for the then popular, now defunct, Radio Antilles.

Two weeks later, he returned to St. Vincent and the Grenadines to provide regional coverage of the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano.

At Radio Antilles, Bobb said he produced a weekly news program on regional developments, aired on Sundays.

Two years later, during that program, he said he was contacted by an official of United Nations Radio, who was in Trinidad and Tobago looking for a producer to work at the UN in New York.

After interviews and waiting for a decision from the United Nations, Bobb said he left Radio Antilles and went to work at ABS TV in Antigua, producing the daily evening news and doing duties as weekend anchor.

In September 1981, he left Antigua for New York to work for United Nations Radio — a job he said allowed him to “see the world while working.”

At the United Nations, besides working in the Caribbean Unit, Bobb said he worked in, among other areas, the Meetings Coverage Section, the Asian Unit, the African Unit, the then anti-Apartheid Unit, Central News Section.

He said he eventually became the senior radio producer/acting chief executive producer of UN Radio.

Bobb said the highlight of his 32-year career at the United Nations was working in the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General as an associate spokesperson for the secretary-general — a job, he said, allowed him to travel on assignments with the secretary-general.

“Working at the United Nations was the opportunity of a lifetime,” he told Caribbean Life. “I started in the Caribbean Unit, but I didn’t limit myself to that. I moved around gaining more and more experience by working in various units.”

While in New York, Bobb said he also worked for Inner City Broadcasting Corporation on WLIB Radio from 1983 to 2004 as an on-air personality and news announcer.

Bobb, who has retired from the United Nations, currently works with Newsday newspaper on Long Island.

He has also been a “staple voice,” as master of ceremonies, at several Vincentian and Caribbean-American cultural functions, including pageants.

“For his distinguished career in the media and his achievements at the highest levels of professional pursuit, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc. is proud to present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Donald ‘Don’ Bobb,” the group said.

The reportedly ailing Maxwell Haywood, chairman of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Diaspora Committee of New York, Inc., said in a statement in the souvenir journal that the Committee was “proud to present its second annual Diaspora Heritage Awards.”

“This event comes at a time of growing interests in the heritage of countries and the nature of the contributions of historical personalities,” he said. “This process is vital for the development of all communities, especially when the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations are recognized and celebrated.”

Haywood noted that the committee has “moved beyond the traditional way of recognizing and rewarding only individuals,” adding that organizations will also be recognized and rewarded for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of the Vincentian people.”

“Congratulations to all honorees for your commitment to excellence and to the upliftment of our Vincentian community,” he said. “You truly deserve this honor, and your contributions are truly exemplary of Vincentian excellence. We hope to engrave your contributions as legacies in the wider development of the American and Vincentian societies.”

In his message, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves said “events of this type are of much significance to Vincentians in the Diaspora,” stating that they “provide opportunities to highlight the many notable achievements of our compatriots.

“I am certain that these activities are marked by a great sense of pride and accomplishment, as, indeed, they should be,” he said.