Barbara Assoon has touched the lives of many, not only through her acting or radio announcing or news presenting, but as well in her role as a teacher to the many familiar faces and voices to grace the airwaves in this country.
Assoon, 91, passed away Tuesday morning at the Westshore Private Hospital in Cocorite.
Since her passing, many tributes have poured in, particularly from the people she interacted with in the local media industry since the 1960’s.
Morning talk show host at Trinidad and Tobago Television (TTT), Lisa Wickham mourned the loss of her “teacher and hero.”
“Barbara was a mentor as well as a coach. From my days at Radio Trinidad, then Trinidad Broadcasting as a radio announcer on 95.1FM, she was my vocal trainer. When I hosted Good Morning T&T on the last TTT she provided me with mentorship and training. She was a true inspiration and one of my biggest cheerleaders albeit firm and sometimes with a well-deserved bouff. I adored her dearly and respected her highly. She was in a distinct class of her own.”
Another well-recognised name in local broadcasting, Tony Fraser, described Assoon as “a wonderful human being.”
Fraser’s first interaction with Assoon was at radio Trinidad in the 1980’s when he worked as a freelancer.
However, they began working more closely in 1991 when he was hired in the newsroom and she was the news presenter.
So great was his admiration of her work that when Fraser held a senior position at TTT, he hired Assoon to do voice training with the young journalists.
“She trained a couple of generations of news presenters.”
He admitted that she was quite strict but, “would help anybody, anytime.”
Fraser said he would remember his former colleague and friend as a perfectionist and one os the best news presenters he has ever heard in Trinidad and Tobago or anywhere else.
Fraser also recalled that Assoon was an actress who made her mark in many stage productions, radio soap operas, films, and live TV dramas in England before returning to this country.
According to former TTT and TV6 news anchor, Dominic Kalipersad, “Barbara Assoon was the actress turned radio announcer who set the standard for local broadcasters.”
Assoon’s contribution has also penetrated the urban radio station genre as well.
For years popular morning show hosts JW (Jason Williams) and Blaze (Ancil Isaac Jr) have made references to Assoon on their programme.
Commenting on her passing Blaze said when he had just started 98.9 FM in the late 90’s she was the evening radio news anchor.
“She always a very well put together, kind, very regal kind of lady with a beautiful voice.”
He said she always tried to help those she interacted with.
“I am so sorry to hear that she’s gone but I know she would have left a lasting legacy especially on people like me. She was really a titan of broadcasting.”
In 2012, she was given the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) Media Excellence Award.
Minister of Communications Donna Cox also expressed sadness on the passing of Assoon.
In a media release, Cox said Assoon has been described as a talented and formidable broadcaster whom the media owes a debt of gratitude. Minister Cox added that even though she did not know Assoon personally, she knew of her work and hoped that Assoon’s penchant for perfection and storytelling is a legacy that lives on.
“I hope you find comfort in the fact that she lived a full life and so many feel a personal connection to her. We are thankful for her years of service to Trinidad and Tobago in general, and the media landscape in particular,” she expressed to Assoon’s family.