Lord Radio: Brought Barbados’s music to the visitors.
Oliver “Lord Radio” Broome finally hung up his banjo in May 2011 and left behind a legacy of one of Barbados’ most entertaining musicians and prominent promoters.
Famous for bringing Barbadian music to the tourist scene, Lord Radio was the first to pioneer the island’s music as a tourist attraction, resulting in his title “King of the Hotel Circuit.” As well as calypso, the artiste played a wide range of songs, from ballads to country & western.
Growing up in Speightstown in the 1940s, he earned his name early. Never to be seen without a banjo, even as a child, Lord Radio was a born entertainer for the island. Playing in the streets graduated to playing outside the hotels, and soon enough, he was invited in.
The first stage to host Lord Radio was the once very popular Paradise Beach Club, and soon he was gracing the boards of the most popular and famous establishments on the island.
Like any musician, touring was a part of life for Lord Radio. He’s played in the Caribbean islands, America, Europe, and Canada, performing at the Expo ’67 in Montreal and jamming with the best, including Trinidadian kaiso pioneers like Spoiler, Roaring Lion, Viking, and Director.
He’s picked up a lot of fans along the way, including the legendary calypsonian and Cultural Ambassador for Barbados, Mighty Gabby, who has won the Barbadian calypso crown a staggering eight times. In an interview, he said, “Lord Radio is one of my heroes in the calypso business. I have learned a lot from him. People like him paved the way for people like me to earn a living from this art form.”
Another of his followers was Gil Figaro, founder of the Caribbean Sunshine Awards, which lauded him in 2004. This was only the first of his accolades. Lord Radio’s achievements and contributions have been celebrated ever since. In 2005 he was honored with the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, followed by the Barbados Music Awards presenting him with an award for his valuable contribution to local entertainment in 2007.
Money is the ultimate goal for many, but not for Lord Radio. He said, “Entertaining is more than about money for me, it is about making people happy, and all the next day, they are still talking about me.”
This is why Lord Radio was in the entertainment industry for more than 55 years and even performed his last few gigs from a wheelchair. He loves the buzz and appreciation of the crowd.
Not only a performer, he has also composed songs for documentaries like Carib Beat and founded one of Barbados’ most famous bands, the Bimshire Boys.
Lord Radio features in the Garland Encyclopaedia of World Music, where he is recognized as being the driving force behind the calypso art form, which is the foundation of Crop-Over. Quite an achievement.
In 2011 the veteran entertainer made his last performance. He explained, “I have been saying I was done since 1983, but people keep asking me to come back.” Ill health contributed to his retirement, and diabetes is causing his eyesight to dim and has already cost him a limb. But that doesn’t stop Lord Radio’s tenacious attitude to life.
This dominant musical attitude to life reverberates in his nine children, who have inherited his love of music.
Angela Fenty and Indira Baird are talented gospel singers, Leonard Griffith is a great keyboardist, and Arthur Broomes is a bandleader.
These siblings’ gifts were first noticed in 1977 when they won the Richard Stoute Teen Talent contest as a group called Melody Masters.
As Lord Radio retires from public life in Barbados and abroad, he can be safe knowing that his incredible energy and achievements will continue to influence future generations.
Brett Callaghan is the founder and managing director of Totally Barbados. I specialize in writing content for the tourism industry for my island home of Barbados. I help companies build strategies to grow their businesses online with SMART marketing, advertising, and social media goals.