Ronald Shannon began his professional career at the Trinidad & Tobago Television Company (TTT) in August, 1962 as an Office Assistant, or what used to be called an ‘office boy’ in those days. At a salary of $20.00 a week (a lot of money at that time) for such a position, he quickly set about learning the in’s and out’s of the Station, absorbing whatever he could from other departments, such as Sales, Photographic Dark Room, Graphics, Programming and the Technical Area. As the Station grew, he finally secured a promotion to the Film Library as a Film Editor Trainee. When the Communication Workers Union came in, he received the biggest salary increase, moving his pay to $190.00 per month. In his new position, he received invaluable assistance from the Library Staff. Michael Clarke, Robert Archibald, Louis Sorzano, George Tang and Christine Pantin, all helped to shape his future in the Television business.
Michael, Louis and George were all Cinematographers, and Ronald would tag along to assist the crew on outside assignments when all the important events would take place. Carnival celebrations, horse racing at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Test Cricket in the Queen’s Park Oval, and anywhere else he could attend when it was possible to break from his Film Editing duties.
At nights after his regular 8.00 am – 4.00 pm Library shift was over, he would “sneak” into the Technical Area where the ‘live’ Transmission was taking place. ‘Live’ because there was no Video Tape in those days. Any mistakes that were made went directly out on ‘the air’. In the Technical Area, Ronald pulled cables, cleaned lenses, moved cameras, set up microphones and assisted with studio lighting. This ad-hoc training paid-off as he soon became a live on-air Studio Cameraman and Sound Operator.
Ronald left TTT in 1966 to attend the RCA Television Institute in New York City, where he graduated in the First Quarter of his class. He also attended the Delahanty Institute of Electronics, and the Rockefeller School of Advertising. Worked at UNICEF with Michael Clarke in Film Production, Public Relations Department.
In 1969, he secured a job as a Cinema Manager with Rugoff Theatres, and was given the responsibility to manage two of Manhattan’s prestige cinemas. The Murray Hill on East 34th Street, and the Art on 8th Street in Greenwich Village. Then in 1977, taking a break from Film and Television, he went to work as a Third Class Welder for Sea train Shipbuilding Corporation in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where he finally became a Welding Instructor, having passed his United States Coast Guard welding exams.
He then joined Pempala Productions in Gasparillo. His role as a Sound and special effects Operator on the industry. He also landed a minor role as the Disc Jockey in the movie. Film ‘Bacchanal Time’ provided him with further valuable experience
On his return home in 1979, he joined the Office of the Prime Minister as a Film Production Officer Trainee. Later promoted to Director/Producer 1. Up to the time of this writing, Mr. Shannon is still the only Television Producer in Trinidad & Tobago with 7 National Awards and an International PAHO Gold Medal, for representing T&T in Washington, DC.
All Awards are for ‘Excellence in Television Journalism’. In 1994, Mr. Shannon was sent to Tobago by the Prime Minister, to teach Television Production at the Tobago House of Assembly, and to be the first Director of the Tobago Information Unit. Later, he was appointed Communications Director at the Division of Tourism, THA, and has built 2 Television Editing Studios on the island. One of his trainees, Ms. Janice Walker, also won a National Award. He attended the Caricom Heads of Gov’t Conference (St.Lucia), traveled with Prime Minister ANR Robinson on his Official Visit to Nigeria, and the Commonwealth Heads of Gov’t Meeting (Zimbabwe 1991). All in his capacity as a Television Director/Producer.