Goodbye my great friend Herby Widmaier

When my phone that morning rang to announce Herby’s death, I dropped into my chair saying with great sadness and a lot of nostalgia: he too left without apologizing like the other. As if, with my reproaches, I could bring him back … I have been won over by a deep affliction which brings to my mind the reflection of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry who says: “Nothing, indeed, will ever replace the lost companion . One does not create old comrades. Nothing beats the treasure of so many common memories, of so many bad hours lived together, of so many quarrels, reconciliations, and movements of the heart. We do not rebuild those friendships. It is in vain, if an oak is planted, to hope to shelter soon under its foliage.

Such is life. We have enriched ourselves first, we have planted for years, but come the years where time defeats this work and clears. The comrades, one by one, take away their shadow. And to our bereavement now mingled the secret regret of aging. “Stopping too long on this quote would lead us to crush too many tears and prevent us from remembering how powerful, living and immortal Herby’s work is. Yet I did not evolve in the wake of Herby great musician, filmmaker, singer presenter that he was …

I have never worked at Radio Haiti or Radio Métropole, both creations of Widmaier. The first that Herby tinkered with his father Ricardo Widmaier. Yes, at that time in Haiti we mainly tinkered with the transmitters and we had to be an ace in electronics, in broadcast to make its transmitter and, at that time, we talked about the big broadcasters like Ricardo and Herby Widmaier, Edouard Gentil, Camille Desmangles, David Hartt, Ernst Colimon, Anacréon, Brown and Fritz Michel.

As a teenager, I was fascinated by the electronics. I was making rudimentary galena receptors (galena: natural lead sulphide, a metallic luster, used as a detector in the first receptors.) I made Receivers to galena to catch all the radios, they were not as numerous but Radio Haiti had a good programming, the best presenters, a good presence, a good sound and an exemplary technical touch. It was phenomenal with a vertical antenna and radiation cables installed on the roof of the store Le Chat Botté at Grand-Rue.

The Widmaiers mastered the problem of radiofrequency with the studios located in the same place as the transmitters, as was the case with all the other stations of that time. I was also listening to Radio Haiti on the 31 and 49 meter decametric waves, the call sign was 4VRW and 4VHW R for Ricardo and H for Herbert. At the break, at the forced separation of Herby from Radio Haiti, it was very hard for him, he told me one day, telling me about his past, because it was the product, it was The work of father and son Widmaier. But something unfortunate was good because without this tear we would have never discovered the talent, leadership, genius, universal dimension of Herby Widmaier. Herby inaugurated in 1970 Radio Métropole with a team, headed by Bob Lemoine, as programming director. It brought new life into the world of broadcasting, professionalism, art, aesthetics, innovation, especially passion. Well-worked, well-placed voices, a clean and modern programming, a revolution with jingles, identifications and advertisements sung with just voices.

In 1970, with Herby Widmaier another radio was born. The man reaches an expansive dimension over the years. A little later, after my diploma in electronics, my visit to the National Conservatory of Dramatic Art and some other studies and experiments, of course, I became director of Radio Port-au-Prince and that’s where I will start To meet Herby since Antoine Hérard the owner of Radio Port-au Prince (My boss) was the godfather of Radio Métropole. I was very surprised to see Herby Widmaier with his inseparable friend and collaborator Roland Dupoux come to repair or make adjustments from time to time to the transmitter of Radio Port-au-Prince.

L’intéressante histoire : un jour, par malheur on avait une grave panne notre reactor choke était parti dans notre émetteur AM Collins. A cette époque, on ne trouvait pas les pièces de rechange dans les vitrines des magasins. Il fallait commander et là on en avait pour six mois. Désespoir : nous étions « off the air ». Après deux semaines, j’ai reçu un appel téléphonique de David Hartt de Radio Lumière qui me demanda quel était le problème, je lui ai expliqué que c’était le AC reactor choke qui était endommagé, il m’a répondu qu’un transformateur de l’EDH pouvait faire le travail temporairement et qu’il en avait un de disponible, que je pouvais le faire chercher à Radio Lumière. Le seul inconvénient c’est que j’aurai un petit grondement au cours des émissions. Et c’était Herby Widmaier qui m’avait expliqué au téléphone comment le disposer. Et c’est encore Herby Widmaier qui avait commandé le choke et l’avait installé pour nous après six mois.

Herby also took courage. When the state media began to advertise, it was the only one, under the dictatorship, to denounce this unfair competition through a press note.

In the same way, I can not forget the petition made, again at the instigation of Herby, against the abusive advertisements coming from abroad broadcast by the private television channel of the time.

It was well before 1986 the instigator of the Haitian Media Association. We met in restaurants. He told us that we must remain united and supportive.

A remarkable fact in the aftermath of February 7, 1986 when Jean Léopold Dominique returned. Herby called me over the phone to tell me to invite Jean to a meeting of the association. I called Jean, he questioned me suspiciously to make sure that it was really Herby who had asked me to do it, I answered in the affirmative, he asked me the address, Said to wait, that I should go and inquire with Herby. The latter told me that we were going to have it at you at Radio Anilles because it is more neutral. And on the day of the meeting, I witnessed an unprecedented event: the historic accolade of Herby Widmaier and Jean Dominique of Radio Haiti Inter.

After the sacking of our AM transmitters after a coup failed in 1989. We were three victims: Radio Haïti Inter, Radio Métropole and Radio Antilles International. I had to order a new transmitter, mine being irreparable. As the technicians of the manufacturer were late to come, Herby Widmaier proposed to me to come with Roland Dupoux install the new transmitter of Radio Antilles International without compensation.

There are men, titans, builders of citadels who do not die. Their works are so powerful, so vivid and perpetual.

Herby Widmaier’s footprints will never lose the notion of their longevity, their uniqueness or their originality because they are on her offspring, the sacred heritage of Richard, Mushi, Joel and the quality team of Radio Télé Métropole.

Rest in peace Herby, my friend, for you have led the good fight.

Jacques Sampeur source newsreader

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