RICHARD "RICHIE B" BURGESS
Richard "Richie B" Burgess was born September 19, the last of ten (10) children - 4 boys and 6 girls - to farmer Ronald and housewife Mavis at the Buff Bay Hospital and is yet to develop any affection for the term "wash belly".
Early education began in the cool, hilly area of Bybrook where he attended Ms. Amy's Basic School and then the Bybrook All Age under the guidance of the late 'Teacher Sawyers' and Mr. Izet Gutzmore, the current principal (aka Test) naturally progressing to the common entrance exams which he passed and earned a place at Titchfield High School. Coming from Bybrook and not the more established area of Port Antonio meant for him that acclimatization was not to happen overnight. Those Port Antonio students let you know that you were from 'real country'.
Having entered the system he was placed in Form One East and Plant House - and like most other students participated to some extent in interhouse and interform competitions, but doesn't speak of lofty achievements as an athlete. There are memories of running 5th (of 5) in a 100m race and being forced out of the completion of a 200m event by the invasion of spectators on the track who were caught up in his competitors' approach to the finish line; him being so far behind the pack. But where he was not to have a run to glory, he would not be out of the race, so to speak. His recognition was to come in other ways.
The early voice change from boyish falsetto to manly baritone did, as much as it does now, have the attention of faculty members. There was the rendering of Larry Graham's hit song 'One In A Million You' at an interhouse competition and the role of a frog in a school play which earned him a nickname, both of which called for his particular kind of voice. "Richie B" as he was dubbed by his peers at school, was also drafted for membership in the King's Chapel Chorale, a 22 member ensemble at the Port Antonio 7th Day Adventist Church, directed by then junior Pastor Lincoln Blackwood. Richard was the youngest member, but the one with the deepest and most distinct voice, which quickly had him in the spotlight in those circles. This same voice - and the respect he had among his fellow students - brought him to the point of becoming Valedictorian of his graduating class, another of his more memorable accomplishments, for its generally perceived magnitude in the school environment.
It is to be noted that his academic focus was primarily in the sciences, having an initial ambition of becoming a Medical Doctor, a profession held by several family members.
Upon completion of O'level studies, Richard entered the working world in 1981 in a clerical post at the University of the West Indies, Mona. His tenure there took him through different functions and ranged from Accounting Clerk in the Maintenance Department to Stock Clerk and later Purchasing Officer at the UWI School of Printing. During this time he pursued courses at the Extra Mural Department (UWI) and earned a certificates in Supervisory Management and Family Life Education and a diploma in Business Studies.
He was soon after invited to assist with the sales & marketing aspect of a chemical production company owned by a family member; the beginning of his life as a salesman. This undertaking was not to last too long however, as his brother Lauriston, at the time a Unit Manager at American Life Insurance Company, recognizing his apparent talent and capacity for sales, recruited him as an insurance salesperson with the company. The year was 1984. This like everything else, he took on with his usual air of "I Can", and motivated by the example of his brother, forged ahead to a series of accomplishments including qualifying for the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) for several years, giving him the opportunity to attend international conferences in places like Toronto, Mexico and San Francisco etc. He also qualified for the prestigious Centurion and President's Club and eventually was promoted to the position of Unit Manager, becoming the youngest Unit Manager in the Industry. This at a mere 26.
Music in one's soul has a way of always telling on the individual however, so Richard became the man to call on when it was time to 'vibes up de place', which he did at many a function in the life insurance fraternity, a carry over from his high school years.
This presence (and growing popularity) was what led Godfrey McAllister to involve him as a co-host in an early radio production (A Friend In Need) at the Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation and subsequently, the voicing of a commercial at the studios of RJR. Several radio heads (including Holford Plummer) were present at the recording and, needless to say, were impressed with the quality and resonance of his voice. Training began immediately.
His 1st year was spent hosting the PreDawn Country Turn On at 1-5am on Thursdays; year 2 added Eleven to Forty, which later became Friday Frolic. His third year in radio brought on the High Energy Master Mix on Saturday nights when the then Programme Director, Don Topping, labeled him The Party Master. This became his first real take-off with local and overseas outside broadcasts that served to catapult him as a radio personality into the limelight, and not a moment too soon.
Factored into the High Energy Master Mix show was the month by month search for the Dancehall Queen, one of his earlier innovations in radio and a series which generated support in the thousands at each leg. Many a resident of Portland and particularly those who attended, remember the annual Richie B Birthday Bash which had its permanent home at Sea Waves Club. An event that garnered unwavering popularity and support, to which its conceptualizer later added the element of charity, each year making a donation to address an identified need within the community. The Buff Bay Police Station and Bybrook All Age School are among the beneficiaries of this effort.
Then there was also the fact that he continued to perform as an able substitute on RJR's Sunday Classics and what is still known as Sunday Contact programmes. One media writer branded him the 'radio octopus', referring to his obvious versatility and flexibility.
Come 1992, RJR offered him a prime time afternoon slot to which he is still saying yes, that he calls "THE BEAT". The Party Master has stood up to competition with this show and is still rated among the best. Indeed, "what you want is what you get and what you get is what you never even bargained for". Since then the demand for his skills as an emcee - here and abroad - has greatly increased and he has to his credit big stints such as Reggae Sunsplash, Reggae Sumfest (Jamaica and Miami), The Raggamuffins Bob Marley Day Concert (LA) among other international music festivals. He's also emceed top events such as R. Kelly concert in Jamaica and more recently Luther Vandross' performances here in Jamaica.
Richard is also working on music-oriented projects as a record producer with a number of top Jamaican artistes, many of his productions are featured on various compilations for the Greensleeves and Jet Star record labels, both based in England as well as the VP label in the U.S.A.
This proud Portlander who never fails to remind his listeners that "a Portland me come from", would love to see his beloved parish - which he feels is Jamaica's true gem - become more prosperous and a model to be emulated.
Richard Kirkland Alexander Burgess holds true in his daily life to the maxim that "by the sweat of your brow you shall eat bread" and is rather encouraged by the very notion of hard work, perseverance, discipline and determination, and especially the conditioning of the mind to positive thinking and going for what is yours.
As such he accepted an offer to join the Hot 102 FM team of broadcasters and started presenting THE HOT MIX on September 29, 2003. This program runs between 2pm and 5pm Monday-Friday on that station. Recent surveys show that Richie B has 'carried' most of his listeners with him and when you add the listeners that were already die hard Hot 102FM's fans to those that discovered that station since Richie's entrance there, it was proven to be there or there abouts as the market leader - a fete achieved so quickly even he was surprised. As Richie B ...... 'if you put in the work (hard), you will get the results'.
The importance of this mindset is already being laid out by instruction and example for his sons Rennard and Jon-Marc, of whom he speaks with obvious fatherly pride.
Richard's mastering of effective time management and remarkable ability to stay focused even under extreme pressure, is evidenced by his continued accomplishments. One gets the feeling there is still more to come.
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