Of Jamaica’s three daily newspapers, the broadsheet Daily Gleaner (jamaica-gleaner.com) is the market leader, with solid coverage of local news and sports, the pick of the island’s feature writers and good entertainment listings. It’s rivalled by the Observer (jamaicaobserver.com), with a similar mix of news and features. The Star (jamaica-star.com) is the island’s tabloid, full of salacious tittle-tattle – the “Dear Pastor” problem page is worth a glance. Sunday brings fat weekend issues of the Gleaner and Observer.
International newspapers – the main US dailies and UK broadsheets – are sold in major pharmacies and the gift shops of the bigger hotels, usually a couple of days out of date.
Jamaica’s radio stations are predictably awash with local music, from hyped-up dancehall to roots reggae, R&B and hip-hop. Music faces tough competition from daytime phone-in talk shows, which offer a pertinent insight into the local psyche, as well as sports coverage.
Irie FM (iriefm.net) is easily the most listened-to music station, with a non-stop reggae playlist and some of the island’s best-known DJs. Zip FM (zipfm.net) has a slightly more eclectic mix of musical styles, from soca and Latin to techno and rock, as well as local tunes, while Fame FM (fame95fm.com) plays plenty of upfront dancehall, R&B and hip-hop. Kool 97 (kool97fm.com) is another worthy choice, offering a laid-back mix of music, with some excellent 1980s soul as well as reggae, soft rock and oldies. New to the scene and increasingly popular (for it’s lack of talk and few ad breaks) is Fyah 105 (fyah105.com), which plays mostly top 40 hits. For many Jamaicans, talk shows are essential listening, with main players including RJR (rjr94fm.com) and Power 106 (go-jamaica.com/power). Note that most of the radio station websites allow you to listen live online.
Radio stations and frequencies
Roots 96.1FM (in Kingston area only)
Hot 102 102FM
Zip FM 103 FM
Fyah 105 FM
Irie FM 107.7FM
Power 106 106.5FM
BBC World Service 104FM
You’ll find a television set in most hotel rooms, usually hooked up to the cable network with countless American-based channels as well as the two domestic channels, TVJ (televisionjamaica.com) and CVM (cvmtv.com), competent if rarely thrilling; look out, though, for the excellent music-based programme Entertainment Report on TVJ. Output is dominated by news, local sport and US re-runs. Those desperate for international sports coverage will find that most towns have one or two bars with big-screen TVs broadcasting major US sporting events – NFL and NBA games and occasionally baseball – though you won’t find much from Europe other than the odd football game.
Local cable channels have mushroomed in recent years, with Hype and RETV broadcasting from dances and parties islandwide and showing local music videos on a loop. Look out also for Tempo, MTV’s Caribbean music channel.