Tributes flow for RJRGleaner Group Chairman Lester Spaulding

Saturday, November 18, 2017

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JOSEPH Lester Spaulding, the 76-year-old chairman of the RJRGleaner Communications Group, died yesterday.

Spaulding, who was due to retire by year-end from his position as chairman of the radio, television and print media group after masterminding the merging of the 183-year-old Gleaner newspaper and the 67-year-old Radio Jamaica and related companies such as Television Jamaica in 2015, died in hospital.

The new group headed by parent company Radio Jamaica Limited, with more than 12,000 shareholders, is one of the most widely held publicly traded companies listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange.

He has been widely acclaimed for starting out managing a single radio station to becoming chairman of Jamaica's largest media conglomerate, the RJRGleaner group.

It is understood that lately he had not been well and was hospitalised on Monday after expressing concern that his body was not responding to the medicine as well as he expected.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in a release responding to news of his death, described him as “a shrewd businessman” whose leadership in media and business was exemplary.

“He was unquestionably one of the most influential business leaders and media innovators in Jamaica's history,” Holness said.

“My prayers and sincerest condolence are with his widow, family and the members of the RJRGleaner Group at this time. His passion and drive for the industry will be missed,” he added.

Leader of the Opposition Dr Peter Phillips said that Jamaica and the media fraternity have lost one of its giants.

“He was a patriotic Jamaican who always considered a free and fair press to be a part of good governance in the country. The local and regional media fraternity has lost a pioneer, devoted advocate, and consummate friend,” Dr Phillips said.

He also noted that Spaulding, who was a professional accountant, was a visionary who was particularly instrumental in establishing and modernising the media landscape in Jamaica and the region.

“He was a giant in the industry and the nation will cherish his legacy of building the RJR into a multi-platform communication entity,” he concluded.

Also joining in the tributes was Minister of Culture, Gender Affairs, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange, who had served several years as minister of culture and information.

She said that Spaulding will be remembered for his “tremendous contribution to the development of broadcasting in Jamaica and the region”.

“His contribution stood out from the time he moved from the position of chief accountant to general manager at Radio Jamaica, and the work he did as head of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), all of which preceded his leading RJR through its expansion up to its recent merger to become the RJRGleaner Communications Group,” she noted.

She pointed out that he also contributed to the development of the Caribbean News Agency (CANA) and nurtured the formation of the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) being its inaugural chairman in 2000.

She said that Spaulding would also be remembered as a keen sportsman, playing a lead role in the Port Antonio International Marlin Tournament for years, and did much to promote sport and Jamaican culture in the broadcast media.

She named several honours bestowed on him during his lifetime, including the national honour of Order of Distinction, Commander Class; his induction into the CBU Hall of Fame in 2001; the Caribbean Peer Awards Lifetime Achievement; the Caribbean Media Corporation Award of Excellence for Leadership; and the Advertising Agencies Association of Jamaica's Millennium Man Award.

Spaulding, a graduate of Kingston College, started with PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1959 before joining Radio Jamaica as it chief clerk in 1965, and rose to become managing director, 1978-2008, and chairman, 1995-2016.

Spaulding was born in Kingston on April 1, 1941. He had two sons and a daughter and also studied at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the University of Technology, Jamaica.

In addition to the RJRGleaner Group, he was also linked with the Eagle Unit Trusts Management Company, Ciboney Group Ltd, Island Life Merchant Bank, Salada Foods Jamaica Ltd, National Crime Prevention Fund (Crime Stop), Reditech Services Ltd, and the Advertising Council of Jamaica.




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