Former radio colleagues, Wolmer’s Trust hail late Francois St Juste
Former Radio Jamaica colleagues of Francois St Juste say they are still in shock at the 60-year-old’s death at the University Hospital of the West Indies on Monday.
Retired broadcaster Don Topping, who was programme manager at RJR in charge of FAME FM, hired St Juste at the radio station shortly after its founding in 1984.
“I was approached by his mother, who asked if I could find him something to do. He was just graduating university so I brought him in for an audition. He had the voice quality and so I hired him for FAME,” Topping said in a Gleaner interview Monday.
Topping said that he watched St Juste grow into the broadcaster that he became.
“He justified all the expectations and his death will be a loss to the industry,” said Topping, who now lives in Orlando, Florida.
Norma Brown-Bell, who was programme manager for FAME FM after Don Topping, recalled that her relationship with St Juste dates back even before their days in the studio.
“We are both Wolmerians and we did many projects on behalf of the school to raise funds. We had many intellectual conversations on various topics,” Brown-Bell told The Gleaner.
“I did not always agree with his points of view but the conversations were respectful. He was a gentleman, always helpful and would walk the extra mile to get things done. I will miss our many get-togethers.”
The veteran broadcaster recalled that in 1987 when she went on maternity leave, St Juste took over as programme manager for FAME FM.
“He was a member of my staff and we worked well together. Don Topping passed on his inspiration and I in turn passed the same inspiration to Francois,” she said.
Brown-Bell recounted how she and St Juste often talked about various issues, especially how to make the Jamaican society better.
“His commitment, his quality were amazing. He was always so respectful. He was just a wonderful person to be around,” she said.
Winston Ridgard, who served as programme director at Radio Jamaica, described St Juste’s death as a great loss to the industry.
“I knew him well before he went into radio. He had a good focus on the media and he did very well,” said Ridgard.
He said the industry needs people like St Juste to maintain its focus on professionalism.
“I am really sorry to hear of his passing,” said Ridgard.
Meanwhile, the Wolmer’s Trust said that St Juste’s talent, passion and engaging personality endeared him to generations of radio audiences.
“His velvet voice, infectious laughter and eclectic taste in music made him the perfect morning host. He brought deep thought and innovation to his craft, exemplified in the birth of the brand, FAME FM, and the collaborative genius of the devastatingly entertaining Full House Friday,” the Trust said of the Wolmer’s Boys’ School alumnus.
“In him, intellect met entertainment, with stunning effect, and he thrilled his audience with daily servings of news, sport, culture and trivia, presented with armchair ease.”
Christopher Samuda, president of the Jamaica Olympic Association, said that he had lost a former classmate and friend.
The JOA president, who is also a Wolmerian, recalled their sports house membership and days of playing football.
“Francois then, and in his inimitable and distinguished career, demonstrated skill, determination, and a deep appreciation for the enduring value of collaboration and teamwork,” said Samuda.
He is survived by his siblings Brian and Maya.