BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THOUSANDS of radio and internet listeners of the “Dupont Experience” aired on the West Indies News Network, WINN FM, were gravely disappointed when they tuned in earlier this morning only to find that the show was suspended until further notice.
The live radio show, which ran from 2:00-6:00 a.m., featured former independent candidate for Constituency Number Five Carlton Dupont and known educator and social commentator Washington Archibald in his one-hour segment “Ask Washie”.
In recent times, the programme had become the forum for heated debate on issues including term limits for prime ministers, competence of constituency representatives and other such areas assessing the efficiency of Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Denzil Douglas in executing his responsibilities. The radio show, aired worldwide, had since become a hot spot for politically controversial discussions and sharp criticisms of the Office of the Prime Minister.
According to co-host Washington Archibald, both individuals were informed that the show had been suspended, but did not state the reason for the move.
“I get up at five and use the time profitably by talking on the telephone through the radio, but that is finished. The people who own the radio station informed us today that our programme is suspended until further notice. And they ordered Mr. Dupont to bring in the keys,” Archibald revealed to a Constituency Number Five town hall meeting last night (Apr. 20), organised by the People’s Action Movement (PAM).
Archibald claimed that the move is a part of the government’s plan to control the media and threaten the nation’s democracy. He stressed that in a democratic society, freedom of speech remains a critical pillar to uphold good governance.
“I want you to see the pattern: the people at the Marriott went to work in the morning and were ordered off the premises; I am on the radio talking with the right of freedom of speech...but although they say that you are free to operate a radio station, they have their own strategy of keeping the radio station firmly under their control,” Archibald said, adding that access to other radio stations has often been denied.
“WINN FM does not belong to the government! As a matter of fact, WIINN FM belongs to people who are really anti-government. But although they are PAM people and they have no good use for the government, they are afraid of the government. They are afraid to run their radio station freely and without compromise.”
Archibald referred to the radio station’s decision as “an encroachment of freedom” stressing that a system of fear is counterproductive to the freedom the nation earned in the 1800s.
“Our people must be made aware of the encroachment and the threat to the freedom which we earned in 1834 and the freedom which Thomas Manchester earned for us in 1934. We must be aware of the encroachment on these freedoms. The civil service is in a trap, the radio stations are in a trap. Everybody is getting afraid!
“I have never been afraid...I’m not afraid to be poor or penniless, so I am in a position that no one can buy me. Nobody can offer me any kind of material benefit which would make me keep my mouth shut. God has given me the knowledge to dispense to other people, to be a watchman for people and to warn people, so I am doing that job.”
When asked about the possibilities of continuing the show, Archibald indicated that the duo is considering continuing the show via a radio station on Nevis, as he reiterated that the nation’s democracy “faces a serious threat”.
There was no mention regarding the reason for the suspension, and efforts were made to contact the radio station’s General Manager, Clive Bacchus, but he was unavailable to give a comment.