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 By Howard Campbell—

CLARKE… the New York tri-state area have been the bread and butter for Irie Jam Radio—-

FOR decades, the independent radio station has played a critical role exposing West Indian culture in the United States.

One of those small entities is Irie Jam Radio, which was established in Queens, New York in 1993.

The man who started Irie Jam Radio is Bobby Clarke, but he is quick to point out that he got a lot of help in the early days.

“The birth of Irie Jam Radio came through the initial contribution of pioneers like Irie FM’s founder Karl Young, Clyde McKenzie, Dennis Howard, Ainsworth Higgins, Pat McKay, Milford Edwards, Deon Gordon, Hughland Pitcan, Mark Pinnock, Ouida Crawford, Louis Grant and Michael Williams…without these people there would have been no Irie Jam,” Clarke told the Sunday Observer.

Irie Jam Radio (which is owned by Irie Jam Media)

debuted on October 16, 1993. While its programming is diverse, the station caters largely to a reggae fan base, mainly in New York City.


“The Jamaican/Caribbean community in the New York tri-state area have been the bread and butter for Irie Jam Radio. This 3,000,000 population gets to hear their music. culture, traditions and all they hold close to them by listening to us daily,” Clarke said.

“We are the voice of the community. It is a responsibility we take very seriously.”

According to Clarke, that ‘population’ attracts listeners from ages 16 to 65 in New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut.

“Being one of the largest programmers of Caribbean radio in North America, gives us a major market share in New York, making Irie Jam Radio the most popular station with listeners and number one with the tri-state’s advertisers,” Clarke, 44, said.

The radio station operates in the tradition of ‘indie’ stations like WLIB which provided the tri-state’s growing West Indian community with music, and news, in the pre-Internet era.

Bobby Clarke

Bobby Clarke

Bobby Clarke is from the Mona area of St Andrew and attended Excelsior High School. The self-described media professional migrated to the US in 1985.

He runs the station with a 22-member staff who also organise the annual Irie Jam Awards. Clarke says Irie Jam Media plans to expand into television, film and music production.

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