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Outpouring of grief, fond reflection as ‘Morning Mayhem’ host Jon Doe dies

by Anesta Henry
6 min read
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Listeners to HOTT 95.3 FM on Monday morning were mourning the absence of the familiar voice of broadcaster Jon Doe after two decades, the day after he died suddenly at the station.

Doe whose real name was Warren Forte, 46, could not be revived by doctors and paramedics after collapsing at the studios, his employer Starcom Network said.

Instead of high energy, upbeat music on HOTT’s Morning Mayhem to get thousands of Barbadians started on their day, tears and tributes flowed freely as many reflected on the host’s life and his contribution to radio and entertainment. The station took on a sombre and reflective tone for the second time in days after the death of fellow Starcom broadcaster Dennis Johnson.

After a brief career in finance, Forte joined Starcom Network in 1999. For many years, the programme assistant and supervisor of HOTT 95.3 FM, Jon Doe had been consistently rated by audience surveys as the top radio personality in the country.

In a tribute, Starcom’s Station Manager Anthony Greene said the HOTT FM morning host served the network with distinction.

He said: “We extend condolences to his family and loved ones. It comes at a time when tributes are still ongoing for veteran broadcaster Dennis Johnson who passed away this week gone. In less than a week we have lost two of our well-loved radio personalities.

“It is an extremely difficult period for Starcom Network and the media fraternity, as it is throughout this country and for many other families. We must receive our strength from Almighty God. Believe that we can get through this together.”

In a statement, the Barbados Association of Journalists and Media Workers (BARJAM) said Forte’s death is a shock and it’s difficult time for the media fraternity with the passing of two of the nation’s most well-known radio personalities. In addition, the Caribbean Broadcasting Corporation said final goodbyes at the St James cemetery to beloved driver Ian Jones last Saturday, who died in October.

BARJAM said: “Jon Doe was talented and skilled at his craft and for many years was consistently rated as the number one radio DJ in the country according to the audience system survey. We came to learn that for many years John Doe, In The Morning Mayhem show was a staple among many listeners across all demographics as he filled the early morning 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. shift on Starcom’s 95.3 FM station with his big voice and good musical selections.

“But also, for those who worked with him, knew not only of his talent but of Warren’s quiet and unassuming demeanour when he was not on air, describing him as an approachable and warm human being who was loved by many and will be missed by all. Morning radio will not be the same for many.”

Several prominent entertainers told Barbados TODAY of the deejay’s talent and his genuine, kind and “beautiful” personality. Forte was praised for pushing the Barbadian music industry and promoting the work of artists, particularly new releases.

Jeffrey Biggie Irie Cordle, who said Forte was like a brother to him, recalled that the deejay always called him to the studio to talk about his new releases. Biggie Irie also acknowledged that Forte was not only committed to bringing new artists, whether Barbadian, regional and international, to Barbadians.

He said: “If not for Jon Doe, I would have never heard of Taurus Riley because he was the first person to break Taurus Riley here in Barbados. He loves Crop Over and always looked forward to the Crop Over music, and he also loved Kadooment Day and St Philip Carnival, that is where a lot of us will link to go on the trucks and to perform and so on. He was a fantastic guy and I will miss him dearly. I want to offer condolences, his family and to the deejay fraternity in Barbados”.

Terencia TC Coward-Thompson revealed a moment that became something of a tradition whenever she visited his Morning Mayhem show to release a new track.

TC said: “We had a tradition between ourselves that once I was coming into the studio during Crop Over time, I would bring him a ham cutter and we would have a ham cutter and coffee before we started to talk on air for people to hear. And we used to talk about anything and everything. I am going to miss Jon a lot. When I was going to release Hot Sun and Rhythm, I called Jon and told him ‘I have something for you to listen to’. And his message back to me was, ‘yes, so when you gine bring it in the studio so that everybody else in Barbados could hear um, don’t waste no time.’ And I will never forget that, because Hot Sun and Rhythm became the song that I made history with.”

Peter Ram, who for many years also released his new music with Forte on The Morning Mayhem, said he and the broadcaster had what he called “a family-ship”.

He told Barbados TODAY: “The Morning Mayhem could never be the same again. We used to celebrate our birthdays in February with a party together. He was a family, a friend, a brother. And after losing two of my brothers back to back and now a best friend, it is really hard you know.

“I know how his wife must be feeling right now, and if I could ease that pain by a hand touch or something. Jon Doe was a very good husband. He was a really good man; they used to sit down and have good times together. She has lost all of that and I feel a kind of way for her. Jon Doe had a beautiful heart, he was a beautiful gentleman, we lost a good one.”

The Canadian-born Forte, who was educated at Harrison College, studied accounting in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He began broadcasting on CKDU, Dalhousie University’s campus radio station, hosting the Baseline Reggae Show from 1992 to 1996.  He began as a club and party deejay, winning the Atlantic Canada DMC DJ Competition in 1994.

anestahenry@barbadostoday.bb

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