Broadcaster Gil Bailey, a legendary Caribbean radio broadcaster in New York, died on Monday, April 13 at age 84.
His daughter, Jacqueline Bailey-Faulks, told the Jamaica Observer that Bailey died from cardiac arrest resulting from the COVID-19 disease, at Long Island Jewish Hospital.
Known as the Godfather, Bailey launched The Gil Bailey Show in New York in 1969. He and his wife Pat co-hosted that program on Caribbean radio stations such as WHBI, WNWK and WPAT, catering to listeners in the tri-state (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut) area.
The show played reggae, calypso, soca and gospel music. Pat, whom he also married in 1969, died in December 2016 at age 77.
Bailey, who was from the town of Bath in St Thomas, migrated to the United States in the late 1960s.
He was never formally trained as a broadcaster but the lack of Caribbean content on New York radio made him a sensation in the Big Apple where there was a growing Jamaican population.
“Back then, you could count on one hand how many of us were on radio. I was able to corner and capture the Caribbean audience since folks from back home was dying to hear anything ‘yaad’ talk and ‘yaad’ music,” Bailey recalled in a 2018 interview with the Observer.
Clinton Lindsay of the Foundation Radio Network in South Florida started his broadcasting career in New York during the 1980s. He credits the trailblazing work of Bailey, and Jeff Barnes, for paving the way for him and his contemporaries.