Lloyd Rohlehr was a ttt Pioneer

Lloyd Rohler - ttt first news director.jpg

Sitting on a pile of concrete blocks typing news even before the Trinidad and Tobago Television building under construction was declared officially open by Dr. Patrick Solomon, the minister of home affairs, is one of Lloyd Rohlehr’s ttt memories.

Lloyd recalls, too, doing film stories around town with Bob Archibald taking care of the cinematography indoors and outdoors. And among the very first newsreaders were Mervyn Telfer, Clyde Alleyne and Errol Chevalier looking into a camera in a makeshift presentation studio.

Experienced programme director Barry Gordon from Canada was cool and confident. To Lloyd, physical inconveniences amidst hurry and challenge were secondary to the thrill of having television.

This was a noticing of Vidya Naipaul’s enigma of arrival or something imagined byCharles Dickens. And in a brand new building that was modest and elegant, and boasted a large mural inside.
Thanks to London’s Associated Rediffusion which had already made a success of Radio Trinidad. And Roy Thomson, a Canadian-born media world figure who wasconsidered the ideal owner of newspapers, refusing to interfere in editorial policy.

Thomson was made a baron in 1964.That same year ttt‘s Panorama was launched out of earlier newsmagazine-like beginnings.

A Walter Winchell-type of columnist/radio commentator, Paul O’Hara (Paul Persaud) back in Guyana where Lloyd came from called him a star reporter.

A passion for the news life and a farther reach professionally had something to do with it. Not forgetting a tough role model in the person of Lieutenant Colonel Freddie Seal Coon, editor of the Daily Argosy newspaper where Lloyd was a young reporter. Seal Coon was a trim former British Army officer.

Caribbean matters were an appetite for Lloyd Rohlehr. By the time the West Indian Federation was in stride he was a federal civil servant based in Port of Spain. He was picked by Prime Minister Adams to be personal aide to Sir Arthur Lewis, the famous West Indian economist in his honorary mission through the West Indies aiming at the creation of a Little Eight to rescue the federal experiment at a moment when a breakup of the Federation was imminent.

Dr.Lewis was based in Jamaica as head of the University College of the West Indies (later UWI).

On Sept. 15, 1962 Lloyd, already appointed but not yet free, reported for work at Trinidad and Tobago Television as its news producer, and he was with the station until December 31, 1968, when he took a public affairs position with the United States Embassy, two blocks away, up Marli Street.

Still later, he made his home in Los Angeles, California. Along the way, however, he had become a Fellow of Thomson Foundation Television College in Scotland and then enlarged on his expertise in his new hometown Los Angeles by attending, off-campus, the film school of the University of Southern California. Brian de Palma was a full time
student here. And so were Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. Some say that these guys wanted to change the world and they did. And one of Lloyd’s lecturers was Robert Wise, whohad produced and directed the immortal Hollywood
movie, The Sound of Music.

For an international energy engineering firm Lloyd wrote and directed, on staff, many films and the company’s audience included Europe and the Far East.

He had for eight years written the current affairs for seniors script for the Trinidad and Tobago Broadcast to Schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District had him write and direct a number of their films, too, and got a listing in the Los Angeles Times

Lloyd says that all his professional life he had heard, and shared, the advice about script writing: “Keep it tight”. In the studio at Irvine, California, one Saturday morning, a film he had made was being dubbed into Korean and the voice work was being done by a man from that country. The old advice proved his ultimate test.

Routinely, one cannot at this stage change the length of a film; hardly the choice of words used, and definitely not the minutes or seconds one had at one’s disposal. But, the Korean input saved the day.