Jamaica's 'godfather of talk radio' dies at 80

February 11, 2012 - 11:45 AM

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Wilmot Perkins, a veteran Jamaican journalist considered the island's "godfather of talk radio," has died. He was 80.

Perkins died Friday at his home after a brief illness, according to statements from his former employers.

The Jamaica Observer newspaper published a statement it said was released by former Prime Minister Bruce Golding in which he described Perkins as a non-patronizing defender of the people.

"His analytical skill, fearlessness, and willingness to stand alone, if necessary, to defend his beliefs and principles remain a template for not only journalists but, indeed, all Jamaicans," Golding said in the statement, according to the Observer.

Perkins, nicknamed "Motty," was considered Jamaica's longest-serving radio talk show host. He worked for more than 50 years in radio, launching his first program "What's your Grouse?" on RJR 94FM in 1960. He quit a couple years later to become a farmer but returned to radio in the 1970s, ultimately launching a show called "Perkins On Line" on Hot102 FM, according to his former employers.

The show focused on topics ranging from bus fare increases to Jamaica's colonial past. Many listeners referred to his show as the "poor man's university," according to Perkins' former employer, Power 106FM. The show ran from Monday to Friday for nearly five hours a day.

Fans listened to his show across Jamaica and as far as Belgium and London.

Local media described Perkins as "outspoken and controversial" and said he was a fearless journalist who loved a good argument. The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper referred to him as the "godfather of talk radio" in an online tribute.

Perkins is survived by his wife, Elaine, and two grandsons, according to the Gleaner.