Lake Garden, a community which is a creation of the late surveyor, Henry Flowers, a contemporary of surveyors like the late James V. Hyde, is across the Philip Goldson Highway from Lord’s Bank. When you’re leaving Lord’s Bank and headed up the highway, you turn to the right and follow a badly beaten- up road for perhaps a half mile, and you will reach an area where you will see three towers on separate properties. One of these towers is owned by BTL, or Digi, or whatever they call themselves.
Another tower is the LOVE FM broadcast tower, and that is next to a fairly larger ferro-concrete building, also owned by LOVE FM. LOVE FM also has a smaller building on their land. When Radio Belize or Friends FM or the Broadcasting Corporation of Belize, or whatever they called themselves, was divesting in 1999 (this was the era of privatization), they gave the FM tower, FM buildings, and land to the Rene Villanueva corporation, essentially making Rene a multi-millionaire. Rene now owns three radio stations and a television station. His LOVE FM is the only Belizean radio station with a national signal. In charge of the 1999 divesting was Godfrey Smith, an attorney who was a high official of the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) at the time.
Before you reach these three aforementioned properties/towers, you will pass on your left a huge estate, the largest of such in an area where there are very expensive buildings and properties. That estate is owned by Dr. Rene Villanueva, who was an ordinary public officer before fortune began smiling on him in February of 1993, a few months before the June 30, 1993 general election threw the PUP out of office and replaced them with the United Democratic Party (UDP). Fortune smiled on Rene, who was the public officer in charge of Radio Belize/BCB at the time, because the PUP had to find a way to stop KREM Radio. The PUP had to stop KREM’s rise, because when they had given us the license in 1989, they had promised the Belizean power structure which financed the PUP’s 1989 general election campaign, that KREM would quickly fail. Instead, KREM survived.
I did not attend the divestment meeting when RSV got the goodies – the modern FM broadcast equipment, and KREM got some old stuff from Radio Belize’s AM era, because I believed the meeting was a set-up, based on what I had seen happen in the first three weeks of KREM’s existence, what I had seen happen in February of 1993, and thereafter. The divestment meeting was attended by Mose Hyde and Michael Hyde, representing KREM.
Early in the history of KREM Radio, I had to make a decision. Would I become involved in the building and growth of KREM Radio, or would I remain at Amandala and make sure KREM’s bills were paid? In 1989, Amandala was in its prime and could subsidize KREM, which we did. I remained at Amandala.
The phenomenal rise of the Kremandala Raiders, semi-pro basketball sub-champions in 1992 and champions from 1993 to 1996, was of great benefit to KREM Radio, and vice versa. This is another story for another time. Anyway, the point is that KREM survived because of massive roots support.
The third tower in the Lake Garden area, which is a relatively exclusive residential area, is the KREM Radio tower, which used to be the AM broadcast tower for Radio Belize. It is taller than the LOVE FM tower, but technically quite inferior. (Sometime in the 1970s, I believe, the PUP government of Belize made the decision to upgrade from AM broadcasting to FM. AM radio signals travel farther than FM signals, but FM gives you higher quality for your music broadcasting.)
Anyway, the KREM Radio tower sits on 7 acres of land in an exclusive residential area, but our land, west of Captain Hook’s shrimp farm, was all bush and grass and wild trees. About two years ago, I began refurbishing the small wooden building which serves as the home of our broadcast transmitter and also the sleeping quarters for our security personnel. One thing led to another. Visiting those 7 acres was very therapeutic for me, in that it was a breezy, open space where my mind would experience relaxation and comfort. I began to work on clearing the land (or supervising the clearing of the land), most weekday afternoons for maybe two years. I think that in my mind’s eye I was seeing how the MCC Garden used to look, when we were young.
Last Sunday afternoon, I finally invited a few of my family members and friends to kick a little football on our land. I think they had fun. I’m not sure how all this is going to work out. I will need partners. I think the space would be a healthy space for young people crowded together in the old capital and other places. Free up. I suppose we’re thinking post-COVID.
In closing, I will say that I am a little intimidated by where I am in this project, because I saw two great Belizeans, our national heroes in fact, make bad mistakes when they were my age, or a little older. Mr. Price gave control of BTL to Lord Ashcroft in June of 1993, and Mr. Goldson messed up bad with permanent residency in 1995. I am not sure of where I am, to repeat, but all who see it agree that the KREM tower-7 acres at Lake Garden is looking good. I will take comfort then, at this point in time, from the pure aesthetics. I feel good, but somewhat uncertain. Bless up.
P.S. Fortunately for my credibility, during a brief meeting with the KREM Radio general manager, Michael Hyde, on Monday morning, I showed him the first draft of the above column, a draft which had been proofread by myself on Sunday morning and sent by our editor to Marisol for translation. Mike pointed out to me, and he confirmed after checking with our engineer, J. C. Arzu, that the LOVE FM tower is 500-feet high, whereas the KREM Radio tower is only 300-feet high. From the KREM property, it had appeared to my naked eye that the slimmer KREM tower was taller than the robust LOVE tower, and that is the opinion I had expressed in the seventh paragraph of my column. I was very wrong.