Ronald Shannon began his professional career at the Trinidad & Tobago Television Company (TTT

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.


Here is my ttt story leading to the Inaugural Launch by Barry Gordon

TTT.covering golf for the first time barry mike & raffie.jpg

As Bernard Bonsor was Rediffusion’s man on site in Trinidad
I was to be Thomson’s person on site.  Rediffusion was
responsible for Engineering and Thomson was responsible for
Production.  But I was given the added portfolio of Program
Manager when Ken Gordon turned down the job.  I was also told that Ron
Goodsman would be the General Manager and that he was coming
from an engineering background in Radio from Rediffusion.
No previous TV experience.  They were going to “give him a

chance” at running a TV Station. As Bernard Bonsor was Rediffusion’s man on site in Trinidad
I was to be Thomson’s person on site.  Rediffusion was
responsible for Engineering and Thomson was responsible for
Production.  But I was given the added portfolio of Program
Manager when Ken Gordon turned down the job.  I was also told that Ron
Goodsman would be the General Manager and that he was coming
from an engineering background in Radio from Rediffusion.
No previous TV experience.  They were going to “give him a
chance” at running a TV Station.
I arrived in Trinidad late at night two weeks prior to
Independence with the instruction to have TV on the air for the
Flag Raising Ceremony and the Opening of Parliament.  I
checked into the Queen’s Park Hotel as previously advised.
Goodsman was there in the morning to pick me up.  He
must’ve felt that I was some sort of threat to him because he
greeted me with “I don’t know who you are but I didn’t send for you”.

My first sighting of ttt”s location was that of a
concrete slab with a skeleton construction.  I immediately
set about to have a room built that would hold a desk for an
announcer and limited telecine facilities (one 16mm projector
and a slide machine)  Thankfully most of the equipment had
been ordered before my arrival.  For that I give my hat off
to Bill Corkhill who was the first Chief Engineer at ttt.
He was a Scotsman who had a tv background.  Also I must
give kudos to Ron Goodsman who had hired some of the staff
before I got there……..people like Hazel Ward, Mervyn Telfer and I believe
Shaffick Mohammed and Errol Harrylal might have been hired by him too.

In addition to the technical part of the set-up I was
interviewing potential personnel, particularly office staff
relating to traffic and log preparation.  Compton Welch
came on board early as we required art work for production areas.
The transmitter was being installed by Bruce Reid from
Canada who worked for Canadian General Electric.

By Aug. 24th the presentation room
was completed and
Mervyn Telfer went on the air at 7pm, I believe it was.  We
were on-air for one hour each night leading up to the Flag
Raising Ceremonies.  A crew from CBS brought in their
equipment and personnel to handle the production.  I
arranged for the locally hired staff to shadow the CBS crew so
that they could get a good handle of what I expected them to
eventually be able to do too.  I was the Director of the
CBS crew which I’m sure gave me a lot of credibility in the eyes
of the local personnel.
In addition to the above-mentioned CBS personnel, the CBS
Director of Engineering, Joe Stern and his Asst. Director of
Engineering Ron(?) McKelvy, rolled up their sleeves and worked
with Corkhill and several other local personnel in getting the
wiring done and installing equipment.  McKelvy and Stern
were in T’Dad for two weeks.  The hours were long….7:30am
to 10pm.  But everybody meshed together really well
including the people building the structure.

During this period of time potential personnel were being
interviewed and those people who were selected for production
jobs were given intensive training by me.  I know I was
pretty hard on them from the beginning because I saw so much
potential in a number of them that I wanted to be sure that they
understood the responsibilities they were
taking on.  As the station increased its on-air
hours I found myself putting in a lot of time with the Sales
Dept. and making sales calls with salesmen in trying to sell
time on tv.  At that point I put in a call for Charlie
Moore to join me and take over the production training and
operation.  Charlie had worked for me when I was the
Production Manager in Calgary 1957 -1960.  I knew I could
count on him as he was a tireless worker with tremendous insight
into production techniques.

George Tang – TTT Pioneer The Eyes and Ears of the Nation

TTT Crew George Tang on camera with R.Knowles and M. Clarke at Queen's Park Oval

TTT Crew George Tang on camera with R.Knowles and M. Clarke at Queen’s Park Oval

On August 31, 1962 – Independence Day was a milestone in the history
of Trinidad & Tobago with the first live broadcast of the opening of
Parliament by our own television station. They were offering programmes
from 6.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m., and that was all that I thought of television
at the time.
In September, 1962 a visit was paid by Messrs. Barry Gordon, Louis
Sorzano, and Bob Archibald to my workplace Perriera & Company
Limited, where I was the Manager of the Photographic Department.
I was acquainted with Louis who approached me and introduced the
two (2) strangers with him. Barry Gordon when introduced to me
inquired if I would not be interested in working in the Television
Industry, as I was highly recommended to him. I had not given it a
thought as I was happy in what I was doing, so I could not give him
an answer as I needed to think about it.
The next day he telephoned me and invited me to visit them at
Television House.  On my arrival I was handed a Bell & Howell
Camera, and was taken with the team to the passing out parade of the
Police Recruits. Having experience doing cinematography as I
worked with Wilfred Lee Company Limited doing commercials and
documentaries – news. I felt comfortable with this test assignment,
and apparently they were satisfied, as it was shown on Panaroma that
night. Later that night I received a telephone call from Barry at home
and a job offer was made.
Beside my experience at Wilfred Lee & Company Limited, I also
already had twenty (20) years of still photography under the well
known Mr. Isaac Chan, and the artist Mr. Carlyle Chan who was the
foremost portrait and wedding photographers at that time.
I was required to give a month’s notice to my employers, and while
working out my notice, I went after work to Television House to
learn the production system of processing and editing. I was
officially placed on staff at Television House on October 1, 1962, as
one of their two cinematographers – the other person being Louis
Sorzano. We were known as the eyes and ears of the nation.
Our job entailed covering all news assignments with journalists like
– Lloyd Rohlehr, who was the News Director at the time. Messrs.
Clyde Alleyne, and Mervin Telfer, and later joined by Messrs.
Bobby Thomas and John Barsotti.
Also we covered sports assignments like horse racing, cricket, and
football with the well known Sports Caster, Mr. Raffie Knowles.
We also featured shows with Ms. Melina Scott, and Ms. Hazel Ward.
It was always great to work with these two distinguish ladies,
and up to today when we meet I am warmly greeted with hugs. At that we
were kept very busy.
The year 1963 was another first – carnival was covered on the
television in black and white. I was at the Red Cross Children
Show, Dimanche Gras, J’ouvert, and Monday and Tuesday Parade
of the Bands. I worked from Carnival Friday to Carnival Tuesday
without a break, taking my meals on the move. We shot the pictures
and had to hustle back to the television station to process, edit, and
air on Panorama News that same night.
One of my outstanding memories was the September 1963 coverage
of Hurricane Flora. I was put on a two seater plane and sent over
to cover the hurricane damage in Tobago. On this occasion as on
several others, I was both journalist taking notes, and the
cinematographer. This coverage was subsequently used by CBS
Television Station.
My enjoyable assignment was the preliminary casting of the
scouting for talent show with the well known talent host – Mr. Holly
Bataudier.  These auditions were conducted nationwide, and it was
one of the most popular shows at that time.
These were very momentous, and exciting times, a young nation, and
a growing industry – television.  We worked seven days a week,
and we were a very happy, dedicated group of people, doing all that
was required and asked of us. There was a high standard of
professionalism. Among us we also developed a feeling of great
comradeship, and several lifetime friendships were made. I learned a
lot from the professionals like Mr. Barry Gordon, who up to today I
can hear him saying, “you are not Cecil B. Mille making a movie,
this is a news cast” which I often repeat.
Disaster struck in the year 1965, as I was hospitalized with a
bleeding ulcer. The doctors could not pin point the cause of this, and
it was suggested that the breathing of the chemicals techno chloride
used in cleaning films could have been responsible for this ailment.
I remained at Television House until the year 1965, when I left to
open my own studio, but continued to be associated with Television
House as a freelance cinematographer, covering special assignments,
like the visits by The Duke of Edinburgh, Haile Salasie, and Indira
Ghandi of India. The arrival of the Queen of England for TTT, and
also for CBS Television Station who was so impressed with this
coverage they sent me a bonus cheque.
I continued to keep in touch with other TTT Pioneers, like Ms.
Doreen Gilbert until her recent demise, Ethel Bethelmy, and Ann
Winston, who I still continue to meet with frequently, as we all live in
the same area. It is always a joy hearing from any TTT Pioneer, and
I wish they will all continue to enjoy their memories.