Wed | Oct 17, 2018

Hearing Alan Magnus Go

Published:Thursday | March 30, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Paula-Anne Porter-Jones (left) and Alan Magnus.
Alan Magnus in earlier times.

Tomorrow will be the last day that I hear Alan Magnus' voice as the co-host of RJR's morning programme and while I understand the joy he is excuding at retirement from that format of communication after more than 40 years, I am still saddened. For when he signs off tomorrow morning after doing his final show with Paula-Anne Porter-Jones, final call-in with Norma Brown (that traffic show is an institution in itself) and, no doubt, a hail to former co-host Dorraine Samuels, it will be a break in a link among generations of my family. It will be the same for many other Jamaicans.

I cannot remember a time when Allan Magnus' voice was not a part of my process of getting ready (or being readied) for school in St Thomas, particularly Lyssons All-Age, which I attended up to 1982.

There was always the news, but the feature I remember most is Ceebert, the affable daft man who would walk into a shop and ask, "How much fi dat five cent biscuit?" Then for some reason, Allan Magnus' voice sticks out with the death news. Don't ask me why and I can't tell when the now standard ender came in, but I can hear his voice now, "May their memories remain in your heart."

So his upbeat approach (and I know he could not have been feeling enthused every morning for almost as long as I have been alive) was what my family listened to before leaving home and what I tuned in to on my transistor radio at boarding school (and new Schools' Challenge Quiz champions for 2017), in an era before government divestment that led to so many radio stations in one little country, before round-the-clock television and the Internet.

I drifted a bit in the 1990s, then returned to the show, especially after becoming a father, so our children have had the Magnus voice as part of their school morning routine for years.

I wonder if the youngest, who just turned six years old, will remember the voice, along with Porter's, which has ushered him off to basic school. I am sure the high-schoolers will.

Internet has meant that I can tune in to RJR from far, just like Jamaicans living all over in foreign do. And I have dutifully listened to what I sometimes still think of as the Good Morning Man Show, from a couple places, like Bristol, England, and Caracas, Venezuela. I call home from New York using WhatsApp and hear the same RJR morning programme I am listening to and I can tell the stage of readiness they are - or should be - at. It is a real connection to home for people like me who leave for a few days. I can only imagine what it means to those who have been gone for a long, long time, for whom Alan Magnus' voice has been a constant as governments rotate, generations who never lived in Jamaica are born, LPs give way to cassettes to CDs to streaming, crime at home escalates and the dollar dips.

To actually hear someone go means that their presence meant something, and that is what is happening with Alan Magnus. Still, it must be a hell of a thing to have not just a good but an absolutely great morning every weekday. As of the first Monday in April, he can be grumpy if he wants to be. I must confess to having an evil thought, that Paula-Ann should wait about a month and then give him a wake-up call. And ask him to sing Flying Machine.

Magnum New Rules: I had to get this one on Alan Magnus out before he quits the RJR morning show tomorrow. But next week, I will talk about that event at the National Stadium car park last Saturday night. With the focus on the stampede, there is a lot not being said about what was generally a very poor production.

I have read about the sponsorship withdrawal, and no screens in the venue, apart from the stage backdrop, so people could see the performers from in the back? And what about the generally abysmal sound quality, apart from when Shaggy was performing and I could hear clearly way in the back, which indicates it was an engineering issue and not the hardware?

There is a lot more to be said, including the immense room for improvement in Alkaline's performance skills and having so many performers on tracks and Tarrus Riley without his accustomed Blak Soil band. But next week.