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Zeno Spotlight: I Am Caribbean RadioMusic from the islands of the Caribbean continues to influence the world generation ...

Zeno Spotlight: I Am Caribbean Radio

Music from the islands of the Caribbean continues to influence the world generation after generation. For US-based Caribbean radio station IAC FM, it continues to impact lives through its content.

Based in Florida, IAC stands for I am Caribbean, initially launched as Haiti Kiskeya in 2001 by Renel Gilles. In December 2012 Gilles relaunched it as IAC when he realized the station was not only impacting Haitian nationals but those of Caribbean roots living in the United States.

IAC FM was originally a community FM station in Florida. When Gilles realized he wasn’t reaching the space he wanted he ventured into the online market, which gave IAC FM the platform it needed to expose its content globally. The station currently has listeners in the Caribbean, US, Germany, England and Cambodia.

The current content includes music, daily and weekly talk shows, interviews with Zouk, Reggae, Soca, Calypso, Kompa, Kizomba and Gospel music artists from the Caribbean or with Caribbean influence based in the US.

“The concept that drives content on IAC is that many Caribbeans tend to be in little pockets and everybody has their own little community. As a united front, we can be stronger and I wanted to offer up content in the form of a radio station that all Caribbeans and lovers of the Caribbean could access,” said Gilles.

IAC FM has formed a partnership with VP Records that provides music from artists based in the Caribbean and US. Gilles says they’ve also forged a relationship with independent artists that supply the station with new tracks as well.

“We try not to turn down anybody if its a small artist trying to come out, if the music sounds good and it makes us dance, we’ll play it,” Gilles added.

With a current staff of 11, Gilles said he’s pleased with where the station is at the moment. But it wasn’t always so and to borrow the lyrics of Reggae artist Buju Banton “it’s not an easy road”, IAC struggled in the beginning.

“When we thought we were pleasing one crowd, another was disappointed, it was hard to balance. We were all over the place. We needed to be focused and known as one thing,” said Gilles.

He added “Haitians were saying that we were a Haitian station, Jamaicans were saying that we were a Jamaican station, Trinidadians were saying that we were a Trinidadian station. That was very hard in the beginning, it took us about two years to find our balance”.

Born in Haiti, Gilles hadn’t thought much about living in the US. With Haiti being a French Caribbean nation, he said the dream of every Haitian was France. However, his life changed when his mom said he would be taking a short trip to the US to visit and as they say “the rest is history”.

In an effort to reach more listeners, Gilles promotes his station through social media platforms and participates at Carnival celebrations with his much sought after I Am Caribbean t-shirts.

In an effort to never forget their history, Gilles says he’s training his staff to respect all artists even the small upcoming ones. “I don’t want us to reach a point where we are so big that we forget the small artist. When an artist sends a song, sometimes it may not be the best, but we give them airtime because I know how hard it was for us when we first started” Gilles said.

“If somebody had closed the door in our face, we wouldn’t be here today, even though IAC is growing very fast, we remember how we started; with help from others”, added Gilles.
Gilles says on average the station generates over 10,000 listeners per day.

Working within the internet radio landscape, Gilles has been with Zeno Media since the beginning and The Call-to-listen feature has been an integral part of his station. As IAC has evolved as a radio station he has seen Zeno Media evolve. He knows this can only benefit him as a broadcaster.

“A lot of people are not aware of the free tools available. We want to be everywhere. It’s been very instrumental to our station”, Gilles said. “If our Server goes down, the Zeno platform would pick up right away, allowing us to continue broadcasting, for that I’m grateful”.
Gilles is happy he found Zeno Media this has helped him in achieving his dream of running a successful internet radio station that reaches a large percentage of the Caribbean diaspora living in the United States.

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