THE VOICE OF SABA
By: Will Johnson
When I first ran for office in 1969 for Senator of the Windward Islands, I could not get permission to use the radio station. The only one in these islands. was PJD-2 on St. Maarten.
After the elections I decided to apply for a license , for my own radio station. No money of course. Back then my salary was one hundred and ten dollars a month. After room and board payments I was left with around ten dollars a month. But I lived well and applied for the license.
When Minister Leo Chance became Minister I remember he and I walking on Front Street going to Risdon’s snack bar. He said to me: I have your petition. But I know you don’t have a cent to your name. I also have a petition from Max Nicholson, dated the same day as yours applying for a license. And I know he has the money. I was opposition to Max at the time, but I admitted to Mr. Chance that I was hoping someone from St. Croix would finance the station for me. But I agreed that it would be better to have such a station in local hands.
And so, the “Voice of Saba’ went on the air informally, with one thousand watts of power on Tuesday September 28th, 1971.
I did have my own newspaper though and the Editorial of Sunday October 24th, 1971, vol. 39 the Editorial reads as follows:
Earlier this month P.J.F.1, “The Voice of Saba” went on the air. Although the Editor of this paper had been involved in the discussions and plans towards this end from the very beginning, it came as a pleasant surprise to hear the good response from the neighbouring islands on the fact that little Saba could now boast its own broadcasting station. More so our Sabans abroad and those who in one way or the other have binding ties with Saba will be more than pleased with and feel proud of Saba’s first broadcasting station.
John Howard Payne (1791-1852) in a lyric from the Opera “The Maid of Milan” in the first and last stanzas said: Mid pleasures and places though we may roam, there’s no place like home; A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there, which seek through the world, is ne’er met with elsewhere;
Home, Home, sweet, sweet home. There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home! To thee I’ll return, overburdened with care. The heart’s dearest solace will smile on me there; No more from that cottage again will I roam; Be it ever so humble there’s no place like home. Home! Home! Sweet, sweet Home! There’s no place like Home.
We do not know if Payne’s lyric inspired Council Member Max Nicholson to return to his place of birth from Aruba in 1962, We do know that he has done well and contributed a rich portion of his life, to the people of Saba which many of us should respect and admire him for, Especially when we consider how very few responsible people with education are willing to throw themselves in public life to the whims and demands of the people.
The crowning success of his years spent on Saba may not have been political, but “The Voice of Saba” can certainly be considered as his greatest contribution to his little island.
During his term as Commissioner of Saba, the “Saba Herald” has often been critical of his Administration (1963-1971), without becoming personal. To show Max in his true light, only the writer of this article can do him Justice. When the time came that the people wanted a two-party system, I called upon Max and told him: “Max the people want an opposition and they expect me to provide that opposition. Since it is so, I will fight to win and I expect you to do the same”. During the entire political campaign, we remained friends, and consider ourselves friends and have frank discussions pertaining to Saba, its people and its future.
When the station first went on the air, we sent him the following telegram: “I join the people of Saba in congratulating you with the Voice of Saba. I sincerely hope that it will serve as an instrument to assist in the further development of Saba and its people.”
ANOTHER NEWS ITEM FROM THE SABA HERALD.
October 24th 1971. PJ-F1, Radio Saba on the air. On Tuesday September 28th, the voice of Saba, was heard for the first time, throughout the neighboring islands. This was made possible when Radio Station PJ-F1, owned and operated by Mr. Max Nicholson, former deputy of Saba, went on the air.
The voice of Saba has an output of 1000 watts, and a frequency of 14.43 kilocycles in the medium wave band. This radio station will carry a variety of programs, commercial, educational, request programs of both popular and religious songs, and we are sure that Mr. Nicholson will gladly carry public service announcements when necessary. The Saba Herald wishes Mr. Nicholson success with his new undertaking, and we are sure it will be an asset to Saba. All radio dials are already tuned to 210 meters.
In the December 1971 edition of the ‘Saba Herald” we read the following letter to the Editor.
Dear. Mr. Editor.
Kindly insert the following in your newspaper. Once again Saba made another Historical step forward by this by the inauguration of a broadcasting station situated in the lovely town of The Bottom. The opening took place on Thursday night at seven o’clock, directed by the founder Max Nicholson, and was attended by several hundred people among whom were the Lieutenant Governor of the Netherland Windward Islands, the Minister of Transportation of the Netherlands Antilles and the Prime Minister of St. Kitts. The following poem was therefore presented to the Voice of Saba Pj-F1.
“As the clock struck seven Thursday night
Dignitaries from North and East
Paid respect on this historical night
During prayers by our Reverend priest.
By the mike stood founder Max
To welcome one and all
Without a chance to relax
Here and foreign lands to call.
When the National Anthem began to play
The crowd in silence stood
Thinking of this happy day
For the Voice of Saba was on its way.
It is for us who can promote
The dignity of our land
Which is our greatest hope
Therefore, lets march forward hand in hand.
Harry L. Johnson
On November 25th, 1971 Minister Leo Chance made a speech at another ceremony. This time the granting of the license to operate the station.
Honourable Lt. Governor, Members of Parliament, Island Council Members of Saba, Mr. Administrator,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is with great pleasure and satisfaction that I comply today with the request Mr. Max Nicholson has made to me to open this radio broadcasting station. You may wonder what are the reasons for so much pleasure and satisfaction. These are two-fold; in the first place the fact that someone from this island has taken the initiative to construct, install and run this radio station on Saba. Too often we must experience that we have to ask for outside help to accomplish our plans. To many times also we have to see that the financial burden of new plans is placed entirely on the government. Mr. Nicholson, however, has proved that private enterprise can also accomplish something.
In the second place as a Saban and in my capacity of Minister of Communitions, I am happy to inaugurate to-day on this small island where I was born, the “Voice of Saba”. From this day many listeners, will through this station, get acquainted with the name of our island. Their attention will thereby be directed on Saba and they may sometime pay a visit to this lovely island of ours.
Ladies and gentlemen, a radio station has a far more responsible task than many of you may believe. A radio station has the duty among other things to help educate its listeners with its balanced programs. Herein, Mr. Nicholson, lies a great responsibility for the “Voice of Saba.”
Mr. Nicholson, as I said before today, you have assumed a great responsibility, the Government of the Netherlands Antilles has given you the tools by granting you by Government Decree of 10th September, 1970, no. 13 the necessary license to operate the radio broadcasting station.
Now it is up to you to do the job, and you will no doubt succeed.
Knowing your zeal, I am sure that you will devote your energy to make the ‘Voice of Saba” one of the best in the Netherlands Antilles,
May I avail myself of this opportunity to congratulate you on behalf of the Government of the Netherlands Antilles and myself on this occasion. You may rest assured that you can count on my cooperation at all times. Finally, I want to wish you, Mr. Nicholson and the “Voice of Saba” the best of success for the future.
With these words I declare the “Voice of Saba” open and “on the air.”
In another item in the same edition of the paper we read the following.
“On November 25th, 1971 the “Voice of Saba’ officially opened. It was opened by His Excellency Minister Chance who granted the necessary permission to Mr. Nicholson to operate the radio station. Speakers were, Minister Chance, Premier Llewlyn Bradshaw from the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis. The Lt. Governor R.O. van Delden, Mr. Austin Johnson, Mr. Floyd Every, Island Council Member Jocelyn Arndell, Deputy Clifton Berkel from St. Eustatius, Mr. Leslie Cannegieter Chief of the Governments Radio Stations in the Windward Islands, Mr. Carl Anslyn and Island Council Member Mr. Matthew Levenstone.
Premier Bradshaw in his speech said that the last time he visited Saba was for the opening of the airport (1963) and that if his work would allow him to take a vacation, Saba would be the place.
Mr. Van Delden said that on his many voyages past Saba the first thing you would hear people say was ‘look Saba’, but now they will have to add ‘hear Saba.’
“We at the ‘Saba Herald’ are convinced that the “Voice of Saba” is and will continue to be an asset to Saba. We know at the beginning it is not expected that everything will be perfect. The people of these islands have been looking forward to a radio-station where they can have nice songs played for their friends and relatives. The “Voice of Saba” has provided this opportunity, so let everybody support it in whatever way they can, as it takes money to operate a radio-station. To Mr. Nicholson, Mr. Simmons and to all who assisted in bringing PJF1 to Saba, along with the ones who tune in to PJF1 “Long May the “Voice of Saba” be on the Air.
In the Saba Herald of that same month we have the following news item. On Thursday December 2nd from 8pm on Mr. Carlyle Granger and his boys (The Occasional’s) were the guests of a large majority of the population of the neighboring islands via the “Voice of Saba”. Mr. Granger and his talking banjo was just socking it away. The surrounding islands were surprised to hear that such a banjo player was in this area and on the island of Saba.
Mr. Granger and his boys will be back on the “Voice of Saba” on Christmas Day bringing a rendition of Christmas songs.”
Last night December 20th 2018 I was driving to the airport to deliver a car. I had the radio-station on full blast and they were playing nice Papiamento songs and it brought back a flood of memories to me. Austin who used to love his Dutch songs liked to tune in to Max when he was at the controls as Max also liked the old Dutch songs and had a whole collection of them. I had been working on this article for some time already but as usual got stuck with other duties. I was reminded to finish this article which I had started some time back. Max’ favorite song was “I did it my way”. He has since departed the earthly scene but lovingly remembered by his family and friends for his many contributions to Saba, the greatest of which is “The Voice of Saba” and in ending I would like to repeat that which I wrote in the December 1971 issue of the “Saba Herald” that my continued wish is that long may “The Voice of Saba” be on the air. And I congratulate and at the same time thank the Nicholson family for carrying on the radio station for so many years.