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CaribbeanVibesRadio.com Celebrates 5-yr Anniversary November 10th

FIONA AND NICOLE WRIGHT never intended to be Internet radio entrepreneurs; it just sort of happened.

The Maryland-based sisters run CaribbeanVibesRadio.com, which is about to celebrate its fifth anniversary with a big blowout at The Carolina Kitchen Bar & Grill in Hyattsville, Maryland, Tuesday November 10, 2009. The event is coined, The Special Edition of Reggae Tuesdays.

"I was in between jobs at that time," said Fiona Wright, who's lived in the U.S. since 1982. "I always had a love for Caribbean music because I grew up in Jamaica; born to Jamaican parents, even though I was born in England. ... I always desired to have the ability to share more Caribbean music, and there was never a dedicated format in this area, where people could tune into this program at any given time. You had to wait until the weekend."

She's referring to a handful of D.C.-area broadcast shows that focus exclusively on Caribbean music, such as Von Martin's "Caribbeana" (89.3-FM, WPFW, 7-10 p.m., Saturdays), John Blake's "The Caribbean Experience" (96.3-FM, WHUR, 12-6 a.m., Sundays) and Papa Wabe's "The Caribbean Affair" out of Baltimore (89.9 FM, WEAA, 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturdays).

But Fiona met up with the local proprietors of IM4Radio.com, which played jazz, neo-soul and gospel, and challenged them.

"I joked and said, 'When are you guys going to do something Caribbean?" Wright recalled. "So he said, 'You do it.' I said, 'OK,' and almost immediately from that point I put a survey together, spanning this area, New York, some folks from Miami, just to get a sense if they'd listen to a Caribbean radio station on the Internet. ... The results [were] overwhelming: There's a big need out here."

The Wright sisters started to assemble their team not by placing want ads; they turned to Paul Mack, a DJ they hired to spin at a goodbye get-together for their parents, who were moving back to Jamaica.

For her parents' party, Wright said, Mack "compiled this music list, just based on what I asked him for, that was overwhelmingly great. So, in terms of assembling a team, he was the first person I thought about. Because I wanted to format the station the way I remembered listening to radio in Jamaica — being able to blend different genres of reggae, and to be able to fuse it in with some of the European influences: the Air Supplies and the Bee Gees."

That's right, Sparky: Jamaicans listen to music other than dancehall and reggae. Classical music was once a staple of radio in Jamrock, and gospel is all over the place on Sundays. And hip-hop, R&B and soft rock are as mainstream there as they are in the U.S.

"Once you come to the States, there are certain things that you're going to try to hold on to," Wright said. "If you're going to try and hold onto the culture, the music gives has a way of giving comfort — the right kind of music. Beyond dancehall gangster music, some of the other music can give you that warmth, that thing that you miss that's just beyond words."

Now satisfied that their station is running smoothly, the Wrights are ready for even bigger tings a gwaan.

"We spent the first few years just really formatting the station, creating a brand and really making sure the quality of the station is actually solid," Wright said. "So this year I wanted to do things that are more event-oriented so people can get to know us, especially here in Washington. The initial marketing efforts were generally outside of this market: New York, Miami and Jamaica — we'd go to different festivals and things like that. It wasn't unusual for an artist or a promoter from a different area to know about us but in D.C. they didn't really know who we were."

They've been promoting CaribbeanVibesRadio.com lately through a weekly mixer called, REGGAE TUESDAYS, which highlights live music courtesy of the areas' reggae bands. On November 10th, a special anniversary concert is set to feature New Kingston Band from New York by way of Jamaica alongside IMAGE Band, INSPIRATION Band, Carl Malcolm & POSITIVE VIBRATIONS Reggae Band and PROVERBS Band.

As the mother of two active high schoolers, it's remarkable Wright can also run an Internet radio station and be a party planner, but she's nonplussed about all the work.

"There's something to be said for having Caribbean blood, you know?" she laughed. "I think we're kind of used to that. Even before the station, I don't remember ever doing just one thing — ever. It's just one of those things, especially when you're passionate about it, it doesn't feel like work. Other people golf, or go shopping; me, I sit down and put together the music. That's what I love."

(Excerpts of this article is from the Washington Post Express Newspaper)

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