Ed Bethel’s voice will live on
Veteran journalist, broadcaster and all-around wonderful human being Eldred “Ed” Bethel passed on from this earthly realm on Monday, leaving behind a legacy that will forever stand as a pillar in the Bahamian fourth estate.
He was 82 when he lost his battle to lung cancer.
Those who knew Ed knew that he was a humble man who could rub shoulders with kings and the common folk alike.
He was a consummate professional and a gentleman, able to share his near encyclopedic knowledge of the past seven decades of news-making Bahamian events with vivid recall.
Witty and warm, he could recite prose and was not so staid that he could not laugh at a ribald joke.
Well-groomed, well-spoken, well-mannered and well-intentioned, he was a delight to be around as those who earned the right to call themselves his peers referred to him simply as “Ed”.
And those whom he mentored called him “Mr. B”.
Ed was serious about his work but did not take himself too seriously.
His presence was clearly felt when he entered a room, but it was his sonorous, booming voice that radiated throughout the nation.
Ed’s voice was his instrument; he used it to convey authority, experience, emotion and confidence.
That, with his reputation for rigor and commitment to the truth made for a combination that placed him at the top of his field, where he stayed for decades.
Ed’s voice and his delivery imparted that most coveted tenet of journalism – trust.
If you heard it from Ed, you knew it was true.
He began in journalism at the Nassau Tribune in 1959.
He subsequently crossed over into broadcast journalism at ZNS in 1963 and covered many major events including the 1962 Nassau Conference held by United States President John F. Kennedy, British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan and Canadian Prime Minister John Diefenbaker; the 1962 general election in which women voted for the first time; the 1965 fire and sinking of the SS Yarmouth Castle; the 1965 “Black Tuesday” demonstration by the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP), when then-Opposition Leader Lynden Pindling threw the mace out of the window of the House of Assembly; and the historic 1967 general election, which was won by the PLP, ushering in the first majority rule government.
Ed coordinated ZNS coverage of the 1973 independence, and he and fellow broadcaster Charles Carter were broadcasters at Clifford Park on the historic night of July 9, 1973, when The Bahamas became an independent country.
Ed also coordinated ZNS coverage of the 1985 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in New Providence.
Ed served as manager of ZNS Northern Service and deputy general manager of the Broadcasting Corporation of The Bahamas.
His résumé includes executive director of Bahamas Information Services (BIS), news editor at Love 97 FM and The Bahama Journal, and evening news anchor at The Nassau Guardian Group of Companies’ Star 106.5 Hits.
As a diplomat, Ed served as consul general to New York from 2002-2007, and the 8th high commissioner representing The Bahamas in London from 2013-2017.
In 2020, The Bahamas Press Club honored Bethel with the Etienne Dupuch Lifetime Achievement Award, capping off his long and outstanding career.
Ed was one of the signature voices of independence.
He was the voice of ZNS News for decades.
He was the voice of our election broadcasts for so long.
He was a voice of reason.
And for a few precious years, The Guardian was privileged to have his voice.
Ed told The Guardian in 2022, that he had started writing his memoirs, getting through four decades, but said he lost interest after he got ill.
He said he had hoped to redevelop his interest to complete his story after committing to beating lung cancer.
However, the thief of time intervened and it was not to be.
Ed signed off for the last time on Monday, leaving a void we doubt can ever be filled.
His life was extraordinary, as was he.
We give our sincerest condolences to his family.
We take comfort in the fact that he knew he was beloved by us and by many.
But, then, what was there not to love?
Rest in peace, Ed.
Your voice will live on.