Media and communication is a popular area of study within the University of the West Indies, dating back 40 years this month. The UWI Museum has, in its collection, two communication-related artifacts that pre-date the establishment of the Caribbean Institute of Mass Communication (now the Caribbean Institute of Media & Communication), better known by its acronym CARIMAC. Indeed they pre-date the university, which took its first students in 1948. A third relevant item is a framed ‘Radio Mona’ poster, reflecting the existence of the university’s first commercial radio station, for some five years from 2002. We highlight the three in honour of CARIMAC’s 40th anniversary.
The first artifact that we highlight is a Columbia, hand-cranked gramophone donated to the museum by a CARIMAC Adjunct Lecturer and former UWI Radio Tutor Alma Mock-Yen. Mock-Yen says that it was in her family from the early 1920s, and she recalls being allowed to use it to play the family’s collection of 10-inch wax records as a special reward for scholarship when she was 11 years old. The records brought into the family ‘parlour’ the voices of George M. Cohan, Al Jolson and Eddie Leonard among others.
The second communications-related artifact is a Ampro 1946 film projector that was for many years used to bring educational and other films to areas of rural Jamaica by Fr Louis Grenier, a Roman Catholic priest.
The poster recalls the existence of Radio Mona. The station began as a non-commercial entity serving the university environs and acting as a training ground for CARIMAC students. It became a full-time, commercial entity with national reach, focused on classical and global music and issues-based programming in the public interest. Eventually, it was taken over by a new talk-focused station, NewsTalk fm.