News & Features

Arnold Kelly: Delivering inspiration via radio waves
Published: Wednesday, November 10, 2010 8:59:01 PM

Arnold Kelly, Acting Manager of NCU FM, is the 2010 recipient of the President’s Award. He received the award recently at the 2010 Caribbean Gospel Music Marlin Awards held in Nassau, Bahamas in recognition of his work to help create opportunities for growth in the Caribbean Gospel Music Industry. 

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Arnold Kelly, Acting Manager of NCU FM and co-host of the Caribbean Hour 

Arnold Kelly
 is a veteran Broadcaster. Easily recognized by his trademark contagious laugh, he has won the hearts of many who have invited him into their lives on a daily basis via the most ubiquitous broadcast medium – Radio.

Arnold was born and raised in a Christian household. The youngest of eight children, he followed closely the example of his older siblings and from a very tender age was very active in church.  Being comfortable behind a microphone comes from these early days at Vaughansfield SDA Church in the hills of St. James, Jamaica.

This 1983 Graduate of Cornwall College got his first taste of radio when he ventured through the doors of JBC Radio West, a community service radio station operated by The Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation.  He was responding to an invitation for interested persons to participate in a one week Introduction to Broadcasting course in July 1986.  During that week, he was selected as one of the hosts of a new programme, "What's Right With Teenagers".  After about a year of waiting his hopes of getting a full time job in radio faded and he moved on to work as a photographer / videographer at his brother's photo studio in Clarendon.  While there, he grabbed every opportunity to be an emcee or commentator at school functions, community sporting activities and concerts, without even a thought of the need to be paid.  In 1988, a position became available at Radio West and he received the call he was waiting for.

Arnold moved back to Montego Bay, started working as a Technical Operator, and resumed as host of, “What’s Right with Teenagers”.  The doors kept on opening and when one staff member migrated, it created the need for a new host for two 15-minute features - a Gospel programme and a Country Music show.  He was encouraged by station manager Marline Stephenson to audition for both.  To his delight, he was accepted for both features and was on the air that very weekend. While working at Radio West, Arnold also worked as a cartoonist with the Western Mirror.

In 1990 – The Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation sold JBC Radio West to Western Broadcasting Services and the station became Radio WAVES (Hot 102).  Arnold continued with the new company as technical operator and got more involved in on-air work. His Sunday morning show, “Sunday Cavalcade," recorded the highest listenership for Radio Waves.

He married Christine Watt in 1991, two years after they met at a gospel concert in his home district. The union produced two daughters: Chris-Ann and Arnolique who have inherited multiple talents from their parents.

In 1993, in addition to the Sunday programme, he took on the morning show and other features including writing, producing, and hosting the morning comedy, "Long John's Short Tales." It was also during this period that he introduced 19-year-old Ron Muschette to the airwaves.  Ron continues to be a big hit on Jamaican radio.

In February 1993 Jamaica welcomed Love 101 FM, the island’s first religious station.  General Manager, Winston Ridgard, who recently moved  from Radio Waves, invited Arnold to join the team at Love. After much thought and prayer, Arnold said good-bye to Radio WAVES and joined the staff at Love 101 FM as Producer/Presenter in May 1994. This move to Kingston allowed him to further his studies at The Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) University of The West Indies, Mona in 1996 where he successfully completed a diploma in Mass Communication and received the JN/Carimac Media Award for Radio.

While at Love FM, Arnold also hosted, “Caribbean Breeze,” a daily four hour afternoon radio show on The Caribbean Gospel Network (CGN).  The network served some 20 stations in the region from its base in Miami, Florida.

His love for the region strengthened when he visited Barbados for a Love FM broadcast and was invited to return the following year by Gospelfest producer, Adrian Agard.  That spurred a greater interest which saw him adding other islands to his itinerary.  Because of Love FM’s already tight schedule the station only aired specific features from CGN and as a result, much of the rich Caribbean music played via the network was not heard in Jamaica. Consequently, when “The Grace Thrillers Inspirational Hour” ended its final season on Love FM, Arnold proposed a one-hour Caribbean music programme to fill the slot. His stint on the satellite network also came to an end when CGN discontinued the live satellite service. 

Arnold was still determined to continue his relationship with listeners in the region he had come to love and so in 2004 he started to explore the idea of working with announcers from other Caribbean stations to develop a weekly programme to be aired on stations across the region.  One of the first to respond was Linda “Chocolate” Berthier, an announcer at Prayz FM, St. Lucia who not only accepted the invitation but also brought on board her co-worker Winston Florent, a technical operator to form the first official Caribbean Hour team.

The first programme aired on four stations on February 9, 2005 and has seen as many as 12 stations airing the weekly show and special broadcasts.  Within nine months of the launch, The Caribbean Hour received a nomination in The Dominica Broadcasting Flamboyant Awards in the “Best Produced Radio Programme” category.

In addition to being the official broadcast team for The Marlin Awards, The Caribbean Hour has provided its partner stations with live and delayed coverage of many other Caribbean events including Barbados Gospelfest, St. Vincent Gospelfest, The Maja Awards, Grenada Gospel Splash, Genesis (Jamaica), Fun In the Son (Jamaica), Cayman Gospel Festival, Jamaica Cultural Development Gospel Festival and Pilgrimage (Trinidad & Tobago).  The team has also hosted broadcasts in St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, St. Maarten & Anguilla, and a number of Caribbean shows staged in the USA.

Arnold has served as Marlin Awards judge for several years and has also been a presenter at the Marlin Industry Workshop. As a radio announcer he has had the opportunity to interact with and interview many gospel greats including Bill Gaither, Don Moen, The Crabb Family, Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams and Michael W. Smith. Perhaps one of Arnold’s most rewarding experiences was introducing Ayiesha Wood’s music to Toby Mac, founder of Gotee Records and then seeing the success story unfold including the call to say she was nominated for a Grammy Award for her debut album.

In 2006 he resigned from Love FM to join the Media Services Department at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) as Coordinator, Media Affairs.  With the formation of the new NCU Media Group, he now serves as Acting Manager for NCU FM where he also teams up with Veronica Cameron to host “First Light” - where your day begins.  The station currently operates on 91.1 FM serving Mandeville and its environs with signal extending to areas of St. Elizabeth, Clarendon and St. Catherine.  NCU FM is now taking the next step towards islandwide coverage with the installation and commissioning of two new transmitters in Manchester and St. Andrew ahead of its official launch on November 25.

As for the future of The Caribbean Hour, Arnold remains committed to seeking ways to continue being the link connecting the artistes with opportunities to be heard, whether on the radio or on stage both at home and abroad.  In his words: We are one Caribbean, it’s only a little water that separates us, let’s bridge the gap.

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