I remember, as a child, in the initial days of television in our rural home and before it arrived what a tradition listening to the radio broadcast of Death Announcements and Messages was. At 9pm each night all else would fall silent in our home for my grandparents to listen to what was then, often, a full hour of death announcements and messages on GBC radio. This was back in the late 80s and early 90s. After Death Announcements and Messages, on various nights there would be Doctor on Call, Action Line and Sporting Action Line among other late night programmes. I particularly enjoyed Action Line and Sporting Action Line. During my late teens I remember frequently calling into Sporting Action Line to share my views on cricket.
For over a decade now I have practically ceased listening to Guyanese radio, taking in bits and pieces now and then but never as a daily, weekly or any other routine. I understand that Action Line and Sporting Action Line still survive on what is now NCN radio. I must make an effort to tune in sometime. Given the quality, or rather, the lack thereof, of local radio broadcasters these days I have a feeling I will be disappointed. But I digress.
These days Death Announcements and In Memoriam fill an entire hour (often more) on television, specifically CNS Channel 6 which pioneered the practice some time in the mid to late 90s. Quite coincidentally the radio was on sometime last week at 9pm and I heard the death announcement and messages. Notice the singular ‘death announcement’. There was only one. The entire thing lasted under two minutes. It struck me at the time as being strange and I thought to myself that it must have been a less busy night. Then tonight again the radio was on and there was only one death announcement accompanied by four messages (mostly to folks in the interior informing them of the death of a relative). In about three minutes it was done and dusted.
An era has quietly passed and hardly anyone has paid any notice. Rest in peace radio death announcements.