Henry Stennett, a Household Name and Loved Personality on Radio Jamaica (formerly RJR 94FM)
Henry Stennett was an esteemed broadcaster in Jamaica for more than 25 years before retiring in March 2006. He became famous for hosting Radio Jamaica (formerly RJR 94FM)’s Evening People Show as well as providing morning traffic reports from their Wise Eye helicopter.
Early Life and Education
He received an excellent education in various Jamaican private and state schools before arriving to study in Britain, expecting to further his education after the Windrush incident. Yet upon realising he would face marginalisation as a coloured person in Britain he experienced both an assault on his self-esteem as well as discrimination from racist Brits which only fuelled his determination to fight racism at local and global levels.
Stennett was a prominent speaker at Hyde Park Speaker’s Corner for over a decade, often speaking on social, cultural and political matters, such as racism and African colonies’ independence movements.
He loved trout fishing and traveling through Montana mountain areas, often quoting General Patton. Besides his wife Ethel Stennett and three daughters (Fannie Collins, Miss Corene Bond, Carol Stennett), six half brothers including Sylvan Stennett from Albion and Marion from Ridgway; as well as 17 grandchildren are left behind to cherish his memory.
Henry Stennett first came to Radio Jamaica (now RJR 94FM) as a broadcaster and quickly earned himself executive producer status, hosting shows such as Evening People Show. Additionally, Henry provided morning traffic reports from Radio Jamaica’s helicopter-mounted traffic reporting feature known as Wise Eye that added an intriguing edge to these reports.
As well as being an accomplished ballroom and jive dancer, he was also an avid opponent of racism in Britain, believing that any reference to someone’s ethnic origin could only cause harm.
In 1995 he and his wife moved to north Wales where he continued his fight for race equality in Penmaenmawr. Here he gained significant public attention through advocating his philosophy that one’s place of birth was irrelevant when considering citizenship based on residency; something which became known as ‘citizenship by residence’.
Achievement and Honors
Henry Stennett was famous for his powerful, expressive voice which filled rooms regardless of conversational or humorous activity. A frequent visitor of Hyde Park Speakers Corner and part of the African League to promote better work conditions for West Indians and Blacks living in Britain.
He was also well known on Radio Jamaica as host of the Evening People Show and news presenter, providing early morning traffic reports from aboard Wise Eye helicopter.
Norma Brown Bell, one of Stennett’s colleagues at the station, remembers his deep belly laugh and shoeless strides around the studio that easily identified him. She recalls him being a beloved personality at the station until leaving in March 2006 and dying less than two weeks after leaving;
Henry Stennett, best known for his soothing traffic reports on Radio Jamaica 94FM, passed away after suffering illness for some time. At 74, Stennett was one of its best-known personalities hosting shows like Evening People Show and news presentation; additionally he provided traffic reports via his helicopter Wise Eye.
On his arrival to Britain after WWII, he was stunned by its physical devastation and its inherent racism, so began campaigning to address both at a local and international level. Along with Mary he relocated to north Wales as an escape from harassment he encountered due to his work in Wolverhampton with race relations work; here he continued working through the North Wales Race Equality Network.
Stennett was an iconic household figure who held great affection among his fans for decades. His soothing radio voice could be heard on shows such as Evening People Show and news broadcasts, as well as anchoring traffic reports from ‘Wise Eye’ helicopter.
As an affable broadcaster with numerous talents, he was an accomplished ballroom dancer, known for ‘lighting up’ the floor with his deep belly laughter. Additionally, he was an active civil rights activist addressing issues facing Africans and West Indians living in Britain.
Gary Allen, CEO of The Gleaner newspaper, described him as one of the “great voices of Jamaican radio.” After serving Radio Jamaica (RJR 94FM) for decades as presenter, supervisor of off-air staff and executive producer; in March 2006 he decided to resign due to poor health as well as losing both wife and son within one year.