JOURNALIST AND chairman of the Broadcasting Commission, Dwight Whylie, died suddenly of a heart attack in Barbados on Sunday.
The 66-year-old Mr. Whylie was in that country as chief judge at the Caribbean Broadcasting Union's (CBU) media awards.
Mr. Whylie, a committed regionalist and 1996 inductee into the CBU hall of fame, was appointed chairman of the Broadcasting Commission in February this year and had presided over the launch of the children's code for programming in August.
He had more than four decades of regional and international experience in broadcast and advertising production and management.
Mr. Whylie was a pioneer commercial television producer in Jamaica in the early 1960s before leaving to become one of the first Caribbean voices on the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) domestic radio and television services. On his return to Jamaica he headed the state-owned Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation (JBC) as general manager from 1973 to 1976.
He joined the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) in 1977, engendering respect and recognition for Caribbean people in the diaspora. For more than a decade he was the editor of the national radio news for the CBC, only breaking that appointment to take up a year-long fellowship at the University of Chicago. During his time in Canada he was also very active in service to the Caribbean and black community and received several community service awards.
Mr. Whylie contributed significantly to the professional development of media in the Caribbean. His assignments included a number of media training consultancies and teaching missions for (UNESCO, the CBU, Commonwealth Secretariat and University of the West Indies (UWI). UNESCO recently appointed him chairman of the media monitoring and refereeing panel for the 2001 Guyana general elections.
His colleagues at the Broadcasting Commission yesterday recalled his "easy competence in all areas of broadcasting matters, his clear sense of social purpose, very approachable style and strong sense of justice."
Close friend and publisher of the Insight newsletter, Hector Bernard, noted that Mr. Whylie was a broadcaster for whom he had the greatest respect.
"His death is a great loss to the journalistic and broadcasting fraternity and to Jamaica where there is particular need for people such as him at this time," Mr. Bernard said.
Senior lecturer in Media and Communication at the UWI and fellow Commissioner Dr. Hopeton Dunn expressed the sadness of the entire broadcasting community, not just in Jamaica but in the wider Caribbean, the United Kingdom and Canada. Dr. Dunn said that Mr. Whylie was a broadcaster of exceptional talent with an international reputation for excellence.
The Commission said that in all his various roles as media manager, broadcaster and regulator, Mr. Whylie constantly emphasised the need for the public interest to be paramount in broadcasting and that professional standards should be expected of all who operate or serve in privileged positions of trust in media.
Mr. Whylie, the brother of respected Jamaican musician, Marjorie Whylie, was born Dwight Emerson Gregory Whylie in Kingston in 1936 and attended Kingston College, UWI and the University of Chicago. He has been a teacher, announcer and was field and laboratory assistant for the Jamaica Banana Board. He was amateur photographer and videographer, actor, producer, motorsport enthusiast and tennis player. He was a columnist and feature writer for The Gleaner and The Observer, the Air Jamaica magazine Skywritings and other publications in Jamaica and overseas.