Broadcasting pioneer Calsey Johnson passes

Broadcasting pioneer, former senator and past Bahamas High Commissioner to Canada Calsey Johnson died yesterday.

He was 82.

Johnson served in many roles in the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (BCB), including general manager from 1974 to 1988 and executive chairman from 2002 to 2007.

He oversaw the launch of ZNS’ northern service on Grand Bahama and the launch of ZNS TV in 1977, which saw him host Queen Elizabeth II.

Former Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday extended his deepest condolences and hailed Johnson as “a great patriot, an outstanding nation-builder, a public servant and diplomat of distinction, and a close and valued friend and political ally”.

“With his distinctive Hatchet Bay, Eleuthera accent, polished diction, and effervescent persona, he was for decades a leading voice and later, face and voice, of the news and public affairs programming for local radio and television,” Christie said in a statement.

“But Calsey accomplished so much more than that. He became an important part of the political and diplomatic establishment as well. He had the distinction of serving as a senator in our Parliament and later as Bahamian High Commissioner to Canada, a post that I was pleased to appoint him to in recognition of his many abilities and distinguished public service.

“Calsey was also deeply involved in politics, serving not only as a candidate for electoral office but as secretary general of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). He was a loyal and dependable ally in good times and in bad, and he made important contributions to the party.”

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell yesterday expressed sadness on behalf of the party at Johnson’s passing, and noted he was a member of the PLP whose support “never wavered”.

“Calsey Johnson was a man of many parts. He was, however, first and foremost a broadcaster. He set his feet down and cast his lot at ZNS and the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas, serving in various capacities and ultimately in the highest offices,” Mitchell said.

“Together with Ed Bethel, Louis Hanchell and Sir Charles Carter, they transformed ZNS radio and pioneered ZNS television and molded the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas into the service nationwide that it is today.”

Mitchell continued, “In all of those roles he excelled. He was a faithful soldier and trusted ally of the late Sir Lynden Pindling. He was especially proud to be a son of Eleuthera and of the settlement of Hatchet Bay.

“A true patriot has left us. He may be gone but will not be forgotten. May he rest in peace.”

The Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas also sent condolences.

“On behalf of the executive chairman, board of directors, management and staff of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas (past and present), we send our sincerest condolences to Mrs. Johnson and the entire Johnson family on the passing of a Bahamian broadcast giant,” the BCB said.

The Bahamas Press Club yesterday called Johnson a “consumate  broadcaster”.

Johnson received the Etienne Dupuch Lifetime Achievement Award, during the Bahamas Press Club Media Awards in 2016.

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