Three minutes into Dieter Deswarte’s BBC film about St Helena, viewers around the world heard the smooth welcome of Tony Leo, veteran island broadcaster.
“This is Saint FM Community Radio. The people’s station at its best,” he said. “Our unique little island will soon be a part of the bigger world…”
He wasn’t there just to help the script along. The young film-maker places great significance on the radio station that was revived by its listeners, against resistance from officials who were funding a slicker, better-behaved rival.
Saint FM is helping islanders break away from a restrictive colonial past, as Dieter sees it.
“I spent a lot of time there,” he says. “I liked the way it wasn’t perfect but it was done with a lot of enthusiasm, for the island.
“And a lot of people are involved. They have a lot of volunteers. They struggle a lot financially, but it’s good that this came out of the people. It’s a great example of initiative and people getting on and trying to do something.
“I spoke to a lot of people and the independent media has done a lot for people in helping them to voice their opinion. Because I think until it came around it was really, really difficult.
“It’s incredibly important. There is this colonial legacy and this past is still being processed, not only by the government but also by the people.
“It’s very important to have this idea that people don’t feel suppressed. That is something that is constantly causing frustration and conflict on the island.
“It can be made better by better communications between the people and its government. Also feeling they have a voice within the community.
“I think Saint FM and the Independent… the mere fact that it’s independent media, I think that’s something that the people really needed.”
“I think Saint FM and the Independent… the mere fact that it’s independent media, I think that’s something that the people really needed.” SEE ALSO: It gives me great pleasure: Julie declares Saint FM open New radio group bids to revive Saint FM