- For more than three decades with the JIS, Mr. Richards has worked to bring the sounds and images from events such as the National Honours and Awards, into the homes of Jamaicans at home and abroad.
- He counts the privilege of working with the Rt. Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante in 1977, as his most memorable experience on the job.
- Over the years, Mr. Richards has received many accolades for his work.
On National Heroes Day, October 21, Jamaica will present 180 persons with national honours and awards.
Among the recipients will be L. Seaton Richards, a 36-year veteran of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), who will receive the Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service.
Mr. Richards is the Senior Production Coordinator, responsible for all technical matters relating to television. While Jamaicans may not readily know his face, they benefit from his hard work behind the scenes.
For more than three decades with the JIS, Mr. Richards has worked to bring the sounds and images from events such as the National Honours and Awards, into the homes of Jamaicans at home and abroad via television and most recently, the internet.
For him it has been an interesting journey where he has covered visiting royals, heads of state, national events and ordinary Jamaicans with equal thoroughness and efficiency.
Mr. Richards started at the JIS in 1975 as a National Youth Service (NYS) trainee. Flying was his first love and he wanted to become a commercial pilot, so he sought employment to raise funds to pay for flying lessons. His first job was as an assistant sound recordist, but given his aptitude for working hard and well, he quickly rose through the ranks becoming a sound recordist and a cameraman before moving into management.
“I also acted as manager of the Television Department so I really went through the whole gamut of television production from the very bottom to the top,” he explains.
Along the way, he fell in love with the JIS and his dream of becoming a pilot was sidelined. This however, did not stop him from flying, as his journey with the government’s communication agency took him to many countries around the world and placed him at the ringside of some of the most important moments.
His most memorable trip to date was one of his earliest, a visit to Cuba in 1977 where he met former president Fidel Castro. “I remember going to the Cuban city of Havana, where this man stood and spoke for about six hours….Meeting this legend and hearing him speak and moving the people; he was so charismatic – seeing all these thousands of persons waving and soaking in every word, and I, being a young person in the profession and getting to see and experience this, was indeed for me a very stimulating and memorable occasion,” Mr. Richards recalls.
He however, counts the privilege and honour of working with the Right Excellent Sir Alexander Bustamante in 1977, as his most memorable experience on the job.
“For me, that experience was invaluable. It was at a later stage that I were to realize that it was a very significant occasion for me to be experiencing working with a living legend, a National Hero; that was an awesome, awesome day,” he reveals.
A humble man with a quiet demeanor, Mr. Richards has commanded the respect of his colleagues with the depth and breadth of his knowledge, efficiency, deportment and willingness to teach and guide those who are new in the business.
Technical Supervisor, Charles Wright, has been with the JIS television department for the past 25 years and credits Mr. Richards as a source of inspiration and knowledge. Like his mentor, he too began in sound recording. He recalls that Mr. Richards “gave us a lot of opportunities (to learn); he never held back. He was a soundman himself and taught us the proper way of doing sound and gave us opportunities to physically do the camera work. We really had a good time around him.”
He describes Mr. Richards as “a very quiet person, very balanced. He’s like a father figure or a bigger brother to me. He is one of the reasons that I am still here.”
Over the years, Mr. Richards has received many accolades for his work. In 2010 he was recognized by the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) at their Veterans’ Luncheon and a year later was second runner up in the Civil Servant of the Year Competition.
This year, he will walk proudly to receive his Badge of Honour for Meritorious Service at King’s House. It is a moment that his colleagues at the JIS will gladly capture for all Jamaica to share.
For this award Mr. Richards is particularly humbled. “Anybody, once you are honoured, and especially by your country, it has to be a very, very important event. It is awesome I may say, and I am indeed honoured and humbled by this recognition,” Mr. Richards says.
Mr. Wright agrees. “I am happy and I know he more than deserves it. He has been working in the service for over 36 years and he is the kind of person, who will do anything to make sure the show goes on, so I am glad he’s getting it,” he says.