I recently attended the opening ceremony for the new San Pedro Radio station in the DFC area of Ambergris Caye, Belize. For those of you who are unfamiliar, here is a bit of DFC (Development Finance Corporation) history.
According to my night taxi driver, Rene (+501 602-2886) who lives in the area, DFC was built about 16 years ago (2005). Wanting to double-check that, I asked 6 others – after a thorough Google search. Thankfully, former San Pedro Sun newspaper owner, now proprietor of DandE’S frozen custard shop on Middle St., Eileen Jamison, was one of them. She magically produced a great contact and asked co-owner Dan, who offered the estimate that initial land sales started there 25 years ago.
As for the contact, who better to go to than the source – the Officer in Charge at the Development Finance Corporation for San Pedro and Caye Caulker, Cindy Medina. Thanks to Cindy, I learned the DFC project started in 2000 after hurricane Keith. It was a joint effort with the Government of Belize, to give economically challenged people the opportunity to own their own homes. Construction started around April 2001.
I still remember my first view of the DFC area as I flew into San Pedro back in Jan. 2004. It was an ariel view of colorful roofed, cookie-cutter houses. At the time, I was photographing old school and using a camera with film. The 2009 aerial picture below looking east that I took on a Belize City – San Pedro flight gives you an idea of what I saw. Since its start, people have really done some nice personalization to their homes.
San Pedro Radio 104.3FM
In the invitation, radio station owner – Noel Wiltshire wrote “This station is a new and exciting venture that will be a success in collaboration with islanders, the business community, NGOs, and the Government of Belize, amongst many other partners. It will be the first of its kind in San Pedro Town with focus on educative, informative and edutainment programming as has never been seen before.”
Having newly started Hand UP, a program to help Belize NGOs (not for profits), I was excited to learn more.
I booked one of my daytime taxi drivers, Yamilett (Yami) 626-4612 for a ride, since I didn’t know exactly where it was. She was not sure either, but I was not worried, as she lives in DFC, and I figured we would spot the tower. As it turns out, Yami knew where the family house was and when we did a drive-by, station owner Noel’s dad, Oscar Wiltshire was in the yard and gave us easy directions.
Because I was the first to arrive, I decided to take a short walk down the road. Oscar happened to drive by and stopped to make sure I was not lost. I told him I was in familiar territory now and wanted to snap a neighborhood picture for my friend who used to own a house nearby.
The other reason I wanted to go for a walk, is this city girl needed some country time. This unfenced sheep captured my attention.
After I walked back to the station and while waiting for the ceremony to start I made a new friend. He came around to say hi while I was taking pictures of the frog in the aloe plant for my featured image.
Prior to the opening ceremonies, I asked reporter Elmer Cornejo a few questions so we could all learn more about San Pedro FM.
1. How did the unique idea come about for San Pedro FM?
The idea of San Pedro FM began many years ago. Noel Wiltshire, who owns the company, had always dreamed about owning a radio station. He worked in many local radio stations around the country of Belize. Last year, he decided to once again apply, and he was granted authorization to use 104.3FM.
2. Can you highlight your mission as a new radio station?
Our mission is to not be just another radio station but to be THE RADIO STATION that is available to everyone regardless of belief, religion, sex, race, etc. Our mission is to be available to any person or entity that would want to use the platform of this radio. We plan to offer updated news reports, live music programs of all genres, talk shows in the morning and evening amongst other ideas.
3. What are your broadcasting hours and what is a typical program schedule day like at San Pedro FM?
For now, we have decided to broadcast from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm on weekdays, and from 6:00 am to 12:00 am on weekends. We are working on the schedule so that we can affix steady programming.
If you are not in San Pedro and wish you were, tune in by going to San Pedro FM on ivoice live.
Next came nibbles. We were treated to tamales, jalapeño poppers, sandwiches, and other assorted Belizean bites in celebration the new station. Everyone that attended wished them much success.
DFC Area Real Estate
Here is what my friend had to say about the purchase price and her DFC house sale arrangement: “I bought the house in 2012 for $66,000 USD. Furnished (whew) – I didn’t realize how expensive or hard it was to buy furniture between mainland options and limited household shopping in San Pedro. Three beds, a kitchen table with four chairs, two dressers, and one small wood cabinet (tv stand). The house at the time was being rented by a family who would not leave. I guess they finally did and the clean-up of garbage took two truck loads. I’m sure I put at least $20,000-25,000 USD of work into the place. I ended up selling it for $100,000 USD – a no-interest loan in which the folks will pay me monthly for 10 years ( almost three years paid, so far). If no payments are made for three months in a row, they forfeit the property. Sometimes I wish I had it back, but I am also happy that a family can grow in the house. Covid was/is tough. They’ve missed four payments which I’ll tag on at the back end of the contract.”
Here is the backyard view facing east of her old house, it a was good-size, relaxing space – very tropical and shabby chic. I took the three yard pictures back in 2018 when my Canadian friend Patrick was visiting.
Some of the DFC area houses have great sunset water view options – so peaceful.