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‘President’ of radio celebrates milestone today
He has ruled the airwaves for four decades with a voice that exudes confidence, charisma and character.
Indeed it’s no wonder he’s referred to as “Mr President” by his colleagues.
It’s a well deserved sobriquet that Christopher Boynes has not only earned but one which is truly a reflection of his persona.
Today, Boynes, fondly referred to as Chris, marks his 40th anniversary at Guardian Media Ltd.
His is a story of shining success, of sheer grit and determination which has placed him among the very greats in the broadcast industry. And Boynes has achieved this amazing feat against all odds.
His journey began from humble beginnings where he attended Western Boys’ Primary School, now Sacred Hearts Boys’.
Not being as academically inclined as his nine siblings, Boynes was unsuccessful at the then Common Entrance exams.
Undeterred, he became an exemplary pupil, setting the standards high in discipline, so much so that at 16 he was recommended by the school’s principal for the position of office boy at Charles McEnearney, now Diamond motors.
“I was in post-primary level and one day I was late for school. The principal called me and I thought I was in serious trouble. But to my surprise he said someone from McEnearney came across requesting the best student to work for them. I was selected out of everyone,” Boynes reminisced.
A year and a half later, Boynes joined the Trinidad Broadcasting Company (TBC) group, a position which he was nudged into by his eldest brother Dean who was a technician at the company.
Incidentally, Dean had a local band, the very popular Dean and the Celebrities, a much sought after music aggregation back in the day.
“Radio then wasn’t like changing dials. There was just a switch: ‘A’ and ‘B’ sources. At that time there was just one radio station but with two sources of music,” Boynes explained.
His first post at TBC was a library clerk where he was responsible for sourcing music for the day’s programming.
“I was also responsible for sending out programmes to the Caribbean. In those days there were a lot of plays on radio. The soap operas people watch on television now were very prominent on radio,” Boynes said.
Boynes, who turns 57 this year, swiftly rose through the ranks as his thirst for knowledge propelled him to fine-tune his craft.
He then became library assistant and often held down the fort when the chief librarian was unavailable.
It was during that time that his interest in the technical aspects of radio was piqued.
“I would learn as much as possible. I would come to work very early and leave last just learning the studio gadgets and all that came with it.
“Few people on board recognised my technical skills. There was also the opportunity to freelance in studio and once I had free time I would do a recording for one of the producers,” Boynes said.
This led to the sphere in East Indian programming which he also mastered.
“Radio Trinidad back then was cosmopolitan. There was a mixture of different types of music including urban and East Indian. Among the big names I worked with are Faizan Ali, Raffi Mohammed and Salisha Baksh,” Boynes recollected.
Moreso he was also privileged to be trained by the likes of Bob Gittens, Barbara Assoon and Don Proudfoot.
In paying homage, Boynes testified that such figures were instrumental in shaping him to also become a stalwart in his own right.
“The other side is definitely a win-win for me because I only attended primary school. I never took one course in broadcasting in my life. Since I started here I buried my life in this establishment. I gave it my all.
“I even observed how words were pronounced. There was an instance where I kept hearing the words ‘meteorological officer.’ I used the method in primary school to practice over and over to ensure I had the proper pronunciation because that was a tongue twister for me,” Boynes chuckled.
One of his peak periods was on 95.1, then Rhythm Radio 95, where his name was further established.
The late Holly Betaudier, known as the “Arima Kid,” was the musical director of the station who Boynes also worked closely with.
Today, Boynes is one of the very few radio personalities who has perfected the art of “riding the music.”“
Rennie Bishop, another giant in the industry was my mentor and he taught me this particular skill. There are some DJs who talk over the vocals which prevents the listener from enjoying the music.
‘That was a ‘no no’ as serious discipline would take place. Unfortunately that does not exist any more,” Boynes noted.
Due to his outstanding professionalism, work ethic and astounding talent Boynes is much sought after at popular events throughout the country.
Boynes is married to longstanding GML employee Shirlana Sifonte-Boynes who is his rock. The couple has enjoyed some 30 years of wedded bliss.
On reflection of his years at GML, Boynes said, “Having gone through the highs and lows, the especially the lows in this company...that’s what made me a better person....to always be respectful and understand issues from management’s perspective.
“I’m glad for the experience; good, bad or indifferent.”
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