Radio 1 Fm founder, veteran Gambian broadcaster dies

Monday, June 06, 2016

Friends, family and the media fraternity in The Gambia and beyond are mourning the demise of the veteran journalist, and founder of Radio 1 FM. George Christensen breathed his last on Friday 3rd June 2016.

The veteran Gambian broadcaster, credited for mentoring several prominent Gambian journalists working in the private and public media, is reportedly said to be among the pantheon of journalists who pioneered community radio stations in Africa.

In his tribute to the legend, Alhaji Lamin Manga, chief executive officer of unique FM, and deputy director general of GRTS, said he was saddened by the demise of his mentor who gave him the microphone at age 13.  In his early foray in the electronic media, Manga and several other Gambian broadcasters who cut their teeth at Radio 1FM proceeded to establish their own media outlets.

Haruna Drammeh, chief executive officer of Paradise FM, said it was a privilege to work under George Christensen, pointing out he learnt the rudiments of broadcasting under the wise guidance and mentoring of the doyen.

He described the creative potential of the veteran broadcaster, who pioneered several community radio stations in The Gambia and beyond.

A torrent of tributes dominated the social media shortly after his demise was announced. The likes of Modou Thomas, who was the general manager of Radio 1FM in the early 2000s before settling in the United States, spearheaded the discussions.

George Christensen is considered to be among the pantheon of Gambian journalists who founded Radio 1FM in the early 1990s. Christensen is ranked alongside heavyweights like Pap Saine, the late Baboucarr Gaye and Deyda Hydara.

Ousu Njie Senior, a veteran musician, said: “George Christenson also used to call me Senior meaning in Spanish Master. He was my in-law and young brother. I lost a very good friend. He single handedly created the Fateleku Music project. Without him, I would not have made a comeback to music.”

Babucarr Sallah, known as BS, said George was a childhood friend. “We had been together for about 50 years. We were the founding members of the Club 10 Copains during our school days; he was a good man, very friendly.”

Pap Saine, co-publisher of The Point, said: “George was my childhood friend; he was an icon in the African media and he did train a lot of Gambians.

“His Radio 1 FM also contributed a lot to the development of the electronic media and employed many talented youths.

“His untimely death is a big loss to the nation and big blow to the media fraternity. May his soul rest in perfect peace - Amen!”

Sam Sarr, editor-in-chief of Foroyaa newspaper, said: “George always stood by what he believes in. He was highly committed to the media and has contributed a lot to the development of the media, especially in terms of training of media personnel.

“He was good personal character. He was simple, friendly, jovial and caring. He was a critic of society – everything that exists must justify its existence.”

Funeral arrangements for the late Radio 1FM founder will be announced later.