KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – One week after proposing a new political entity, the hosts of “Stay Awake” on NICE Radio announced last night that they would be putting the programme to bed next Monday.
“Sorry to disappoint those of you who may not have wanted to hear us. We will have another one (episode) and those who like to hear us, at least you will have a bonus then,” Junior Bacchus said at the beginning of the programme.
His comments came even as he introduced two “Stay Awake” theme songs produced by co-host Matthew Thomas.
“Stay Awake” started six years ago when NICE Radio owner and manager Douglas De Freitas invited him to host a programme on Monday nights, Bacchus told listeners.
Bacchus chose the name “Stay Awake” and “recruited” Thomas, who was also instrumental in bringing the Dr. Ralph Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration to office in 2001.
But both men stopped supporting Gonsalves and the ULP during its first terms in office and have been trying to convince their listeners to vote out of office the party, which in December 2010 was elected to a third consecutive term.
Last week, they detailed their proposal for “the Political Party for Political Reformation, Equality, Socialization, and Services (PRESS).
“PRESS is a social democratic political party whose philosophy is based on the democratic rights and freedoms of the people as enshrined in the Constitution of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and within the precinct of a West Minster Parliamentary Democracy,” Thomas said.
Bacchus said that the objectives of PRESS are people-centred. “… So, with the people being at the centre, all the other things around should lead directly to bring about the kind of change and transformation in the lives of the people.”
But Bacchus last night said he wanted to “clarify what [was] seen by some as confusion or contradiction”, adding that he has no intention of joining a political party.
“I supported the point of view but there was one area of difference which was clear to me and others that Matthew, in his document … he stated clearly that this was a new political party thrust,” Thomas said of last week’s “Stay Awake” discussion of PRESS.
“But that statement was envisioning that out of these things there will come — there should become — a political force, a political party … So the media picked up quickly and, naturally, it was sensational, it was good for the public to digest and therefore it was put out there that a new political party was being formed; Matthew and Junior forming a political party,” he further stated.
“Well, I have told Matthew before, coming on the programme last Monday and I’ve said it generally, I’ve have no personal interest and I maintain this, to be involved in partisan politics. I have no interest in starting a political party. I am involved in political education to help to convince and [sensitise] people as to what is best for the people and I will continue to that with or without radio. There are many other medium through which one can share their views and we will do that,” Bacchus said.
De Freitas commented on on air Tuesday morning about the closure of “Stay Awake” .
“Well, we see democracy is flourishing. We may have a new political party. We have a new entity called PRESS and I wish them well. Because democracy is supposed to be alive and well,” De Freitas said.
“You have heard the announcement by Junior Bacchus and Matthew Thomas last night that next week will be their last night on the airwaves. I guess that is providing whether or not their supporters will help to finance their programme,” he said.
“NICE Radio has given them until the end of January to change the arrangement. It is no longer two guys who are trying to keep the discussion alive. It is now a political entity and any political entity had responsibility to keeping themselves on the airwaves. That is how it is on the nice station. Stay tuned,” De Freitas said just before a commercial break.
Thomas, speaking about the genesis of “Stay Wake,” said that he felt that Vincentians “seemed to be falling asleep on the things that are happening around them. … And we have a situation where this prime minister would be happy if all of us fell asleep.”
Gonsalves said last week that he didn’t think that PRESS would make much of a headway.