It was a surreal moment when Jamaican American businessman Garfield "Chin" Bourne, founder of Sound Chat Radio and Irish and Chin, descended upon the steps of New York City Hall on a steamy day in mid-August. On the special occasion, the Caribbean media and entertainment stalwart received a citation from New York City Mayor Eric Adams.
Presented by Jose Bayona, executive director of the Office of Ethnic and Community Media and Lamona Worrel, assistant commissioner, Mayor's Community Affairs Unit, the citation recognized Bourne's contributions, vision and career-long dedication to strengthening New York's cultural and media landscapes. Further, his many talents and entrepreneurial ventures, which have benefitted communities across several boroughs, were acknowledged.
In responding to his award, Bourne displayed humility and expressed gratitude to everyone who sacrificed their time and talent to help grow Sound Chat Radio into the full spectrum media entity it is today, representing the Caribbean Diaspora. It was quite befitting for Bourne to be surrounded by representatives of his tech, administration and broadcast team for the commemorative occasion, which included his long time friend and colleague Rohan "Ninja Crown" Henry, who has been there from day one of the Sound Chat Radio journey.
"This is such a strange but wonderful feeling. My efforts have always been centered around recognizing and awarding those who contributed greatly to the wonderful music industry we inherited," says Bourne. "It feels good to know that I have now reached a place where my efforts are also starting to be recognized. This is truly different than the norm, as I am usually the one giving out the awards."
Bourne's receipt of a citation is a phenomenal way to celebrate Sound Chat Radio's 12th anniversary. As the sale of 93.5 FM (a station that broadcasted some of Sound Chat Radio's signature programming) shocked Bourne earlier this summer, the timing of this milestone is impeccable because it solidifies the platform's visibility, strength and continued growth in the digital space.
"When I started radio, I had no knowledge of what I was doing! All I had was determination, vision, and an idea of how I wanted people in the Caribbean diaspora to enjoy radio," says Bourne candidly. "As the station's listenership grew, I realized that people were open for change and they trusted me to lead them to a new listening experience. 12 years later and that experience has brought us to CITY HALL! Sound Chat Radio is a force to be reckoned with."
As if the week couldn't get more meaningful, “Keep up the good work Sir,” were the encouraging words from Prime Minister Andrew Holness to Garfield ‘Chin’ Bourne just days after the citation at the annual Jamaica Independence Gala New York, held in Midtown Manhattan. One may recall some years ago Prime Minister Holness met Mighty Crown, who is managed by Chin, when they played at their late Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's state dinner in Japan, which Holness attended. So, it’s a full circle moment indeed.
Just to think, Sound Chat Radio was started from sound system culture! Bourne says, "I never saw this in the forecast for me, but I am extremely grateful to Mayor Eric Adams and his amazing team. For decades, I have represented sound system culture, which is the most uncelebrated art form of Jamaica's rich music heritage."
The media and entertainment honoree adds, "I've been able to assist in keeping sound culture alive by creating new platforms for it to be explained, appreciated and highlighted. This was the original purpose of starting Sound Chat Radio. I had no idea it would grow to become a global phenomenon. I am proud."