Today, as I pay tribute to a great Barbadian entertainment pioneer, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that too many of us who now benefit from the foundation he constructed, do not truly appreciate the extent of the contribution he has made.
Oliver Broome, better known as Lord Radio, has given more than half a century of his life to the entertainment industry — and by extension, to the development of our tourism product.
That folksy, authentic calypso style that he took into hotels around this country when the industry was still fledgling, was a big part of what helped to establish our island’s enviable record for repeat visitors. He made our guests feel at home!
While for others it was purely entertainment, for Lord Radio it was serious business. I’m told there was a period when he led three musical bands at the same time, performed in as many as five hotels per night, and then walked home with his shoes draped around his neck because the last bus had long reached its destination.
Without a doubt, this tourism sector, the entertainment industry that was riding a significant wave of success prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Barbados generally, owe him a profound debt of gratitude, especially when you add to the mix his many years of faithful service to our Crop-Over Festival.
The recognition that Lord Radio brought to Barbados as he ruled the stage with his Bimshire Boys band, however, was not limited to just tourists returning home with stories of their unforgettable holidays here.
For long before the advent of today’s stars, he was a regular fixture on the touring stage, making a name for himself across the region, United States and Canada, as well as Europe.
Yet, because he emerged from a period when, unfortunately, too many among us held the view that those who ended up in entertainment did so because they were incapable of more academic pursuits, in too many instances he never got the recognition he deserved.
But Lord Radio was the consummate ambassador for his profession and for Barbados and served with distinction as a member of the Barbados Board of Tourism.
On behalf of the Government and people of Barbados, I extend my deepest condolence to his wife Shirley, his children, friends, and colleagues in the entertainment industry. May his soul rest in peace.