Montego Bay: “Any reference to me as the Boogieman is not only trivial, it’s empty, as my new mission is a spiritual and earthy one, giving me the opportunity to connect with humanity on a totally different level.”
Those are the words of Barrington Gordon, known to all as Barry G, who at the pinnacle of his career in the 80s as ‘godfather of the Jamaica airwaves’, ‘afternoon jock’, ‘king of afternoon radio’ and a myriad of other lofty references was using his radio show to command over 2-million listeners; almost all of Jamaica’s population of 2.3-million at the time.
While Barry G continues to maintain a presence in the ‘medium of the masses’ with his show on Mello FM in Montego Bay on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and as co-host of a health programme on Hitz FM on Mondays and Wednesdays at 4:00 p.m., this radio pioneer has had an epiphany leading to the establishment of the Barry G Health Foundation.
Persons are still having a difficulty grasping the fact that only April last year this true survivor who is domicile in Savanna-la-Mar suffered a massive stroke, which rendered him unable to walk and speak. “April 13 last year I died. I was having difficulty walking and speaking and was taken to see a doctor in Savanna-la-Mar, who prescribed iron tablets for me and told me to go home and rest. All this time I was having a stroke. When I got home I told my wife that I would not be taking those tablets, and after some deliberations we went to the Sangster International Airport and caught the first available flight to Miami to seek further medical treatment, as even though I was unaware I was having a stroke, I know it was something way more serious than iron tablets could correct. When we got to Miami the situation worsened and I was taken from the airport on a stretcher.” Barry G further recounted “when I got to the hospital I was admitted immediately and the doctors ran a series of tests which confirmed that I suffered a severe stroke. My blood sugar was at a whopping 420. The doctors were amazed that I was still alive and alert.”
Barry G considers himself highly chosen and blessed to have regained all his motor skills, including that voice which enables the commanding speech and diction for which Barry G is known. After food therapy and constant exercise Barry G has experienced a rebirth and is using his celebrity status for a greater good. Gordon is aware of the need for a more effective health care system in Jamaica and is on a personal campaign to make his contribution to the development process, through the 6-month old Foundation which conducts free health checks around the country with medical personnel, who carry out assessments and refer persons for follow-up treatment where necessary. “The Barry G Health Foundation has a team of doctors who are on standby to address any health issue Jamaicans may have, even those who might have difficulty in financing medical consultation. We recognize that almost all ailments have diet as a contributing factor, and as a result, the Foundation also has a nutritionist to assist persons. On Thursdays and Saturdays we also choose a community to go to, and any group or individual needing assistance can contact the Foundation through its helpline at 565-8722.”
Barry G who said he’s cruising while experiencing an unbelievable joy from helping Jamaicans in this way, is also using his celebrity to bring about an awareness of the causes and effects of stroke, at a time when most persons inflicted are secretive. He’s also taking great care to ward off any further illness. He no longer eats red meat, white rice, white bread and has cut his sugar intake to a point where he no longer consumes certain fruits and juices. This maverick opined that there is an herb out there to cure every ailment, and begs Jamaicans to watch what they eat. “The fried dumpling, white rice and white bread are not good for you, and you should not be going to bed with a full plate of food, he warned.
In spite of his higher call to service, Barry G, after 35 years is still considered by many in the West (especially listeners to Mello FM) as the ‘real big man in radio’, even though this 5’6″ icon has shed 50 lbs. of his body weight and is now a healthy 140lbs. The ‘king of afternoon radio’ also holds the distinction of being the on-air personality who has worked with the most radio stations in Jamaica. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as it says I have something to offer, and even when I’m put down (mostly from differences with management) there is always someone to take me up,” he reflected.
The dynamo started working with the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) in 1974 as a National Youth Service intern, right out of Kingston College. The following year, he became a full-time member of staff, as a radio producer and in 1976 was given his own show called ‘Boogie Down’ which was aired once per week. It was around that time people started calling Barry G the ‘Boogieman’. ‘Boogie Down’ soon became number one in the country and based on the success he was given another show called “Turn Table Time” from Monday to Friday at 8:00 p.m. and the rest is history.
The ‘man with the voice’, originally from Halifax, St. Mary has worked with RJR from 1987 to 1989, JBC, 1989 to 1991, then Power 106, HOT 102, KLAS and now Mello FM and Hitz FM.
No one can deny the fact that Barry G has one of the most distinguished radio careers, highlighted by many ‘firsts’ and ‘onlys’. In his element, he made a lot of the business of radio stations more lucrative, he can be credited with making the radio call-in craze more interactive and widespread and is still the only disc jock with a live request show, bolstered by songs all from his personal catalogue with music numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
“Music is fun for me, and after a 35 year strong career I don’t intend to blow it. What I can guarantee though, is that I will use the rest of my broadcast years to open peoples eyes and minds to wellness and health issues.” Well said Barry G!