CHARLESTOWN, Nevis – CHRISTIAN radio station on Nevis Praise FM 99.3 is in the process of observing its fifth anniversary since setting up at its Hamilton site.
Self-made broadcaster Steven Huggins who has beaten the odds to keep his gospel station on air is excited that it is still operating after five consecutive years.
“I feel a lot better than when I first started. I feel really excited. I started from nothing yet have reached this far. It has been a lot of hard work,” he said.
From the face value, many would regard his station as the smallest in the Federation, being housed in his one bed roomed apartment, but Huggins is quick to point out, “the broadcasts are loud and clear.”
He said he has listeners from all over the world and recently received a call from Egypt through his online listeners.
Huggins passion to venture into broadcasting became alive after a one month course he undertook in Jamaica in 1996. The course’s content was radio announcing and presentation. When he came back to Nevis he set about putting his knowledge into practice.
His first stint in broadcasting was possible due to his encounter with Dennis Nelson, owner and founder of the first Christian indigenous radio station, Goodwill Radio located in Lodge Village, St. Kitts.
“I did some Saturdays with him but it became difficult for me to commute every Saturday because I had another job in Nevis.”
Listening to Radio Paradise as a child and having the practical feel of broadcasting at Goodwill radio allowed him to begin to know what he described as the “power of radio when used properly.” He applied for a license in the year 2002 and began to operate in 2004.
He bought the equipment from USA through his savings and donations from friends and well wishers.
“I was always fascinated by radio. I always had a love for radio. As a child every six o’clock, I would wake up and listen to Radio Paradise where they would have children’s programmes. And I grew up listening to many radio stations and later as a young adult, I travelled to different Caribbean islands and was fascinated by radio stations.”
Huggins said radio is a very powerful medium once it is used in the right way. “For me I get fun out of it especially when it comes to music. Radio has a lot of potential. It is more powerful than newspaper and TV. Radio reaches more people than TV or print media.”
He chose Christian broadcasting because of his faith in God. Huggins became born again in 1999. He said he was sick in hospital undergoing an operation and on his bed, he thought about eternity and was frightened of his destiny if he died without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A friend was already talking to him about the importance of allowing Jesus to be the Lord of His life. His new life led him to other Christians who have motivated him on his journey.
“I have grown in my faith by reading God’s word and through the fellowship of believers,” Huggins said.
Through the broadcasts he targets all age groups especially the young people. He recalls that Christian radio helped him grow to knowing God. He said not many children gather together to listen to the radio. He had a programme, “Praise Kids” which did not do well on his station but he now broadcasts, “Your Story” which he says is coming up well.
Children, he says are not given adequate time by media houses. He said everybody is busy and have limited time for children.
His identifies his greatest moment in broadcasting as when he first got the land where he is operating from.
Huggins revealed that here has been a lot of challenges due to inadequate sponsorship but there are a few faithful business houses among them TDC, Credit Union, Gaspree,Nevis Spring Water, Social Security, and JN Rentals.
“Local Christian churches’ sponsorship does not come easily.”
Huggins is amazed that local Christian congregations have not utilized Christian radio stations to the maximum.
Huggins like many people in the Federation is distressed by the escalating gang violence.
“The youth are crying for help because they are not getting adequate attention. It saddens me when I hear another and another get shot. Parents should take their children to church. I had to go to church and say my prayers daily. I always wonder why the young men and not the young women. Parents have their role to play but they do not play it well. People should find out what the youth like. Somebody formerly in gangs should be sought to help them out. They can be reached,”
Huggins says he is now married and has no children outside marriage. He says young men should wait to get married before they have children but should they father children, he recommends that they take good care of the children so that they do not turn into criminals.
He is married to Sandra who is originally from Uganda and they have a daughter, Sasha.
This is what Sandra had to say about her husband’s passion for broadcasting, “It is a blessing. The challenges are to do with finances but the joy is when somebody calls you and says they have been blessed especially when people listen online from as far as Europe and Africa and various other parts in the world.”