Dipping into the local media is an excellent way to acclimatize yourself with the nation’s cultural and political life. Outspoken columnists, scurrilous newspaper headlines and the local programming available on TV all offer a fascinating picture of Trini society – especially during Carnival, when local stations preview costumes, road march songs and fetes, and the papers hotly debate the merits of the year’s calypsos.

Print and online

Trinidad’s main daily newspapers are the Trinidad Guardian (wguardian.co.tt), a vaguely high-brow tome with a traditionally conservative attitude, the Express (wtrinidadexpress.com) and Newsday (wnewsday.co.tt); the latter two are picture-dominated with plenty of space for their sometimes outspoken columnists – look out especially for B.C. Pires’s brilliant Friday column in the Guardian, and Kevin Baldeosingh’s writing in the Express. All of the dailies have fat weekend editions with extended music, lifestyle and children’s features, and salacious weekend scandal rag Sunday Punch remains very popular. Tobago boasts only one paper, Tobago News (wthetobagonews.com), which is published on Fridays and concentrates on local sports, events and entertainment.

Sold at Piarco and Crown Point airports, supermarkets and book stores, foreign magazinesTime, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan and the like – are easy to find, but foreign newspapers – except for USA Today – are practically nonexistent. Of the local glossies, lifestyle and culture magazine Mako is worth a look, while Carnival souvenir magazines provide a good insight into T&T’s biggest festival; all are sold in pharmacies and supermarkets. Newspapers are sold at petrol stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and by street vendors.

Some of T&Ts most insightful and funny bloggers post stories at wglobalvoicesonline.org (search for Trinidad and Tobago); there’s also plenty of good stuff online at wmeppublishers.com, home of the award-winning Air Caribbean inflight mag Caribbean Beat.

TV and radio

Trinidad and Tobago have several TV stations: TV6, TIC, ieTV, CNMG-TV and CMC TV, tending to show American soaps, sitcoms and game shows alongside educational and homegrown programmes. The main local news (with some international stories) is shown on TV6 and CNMG at 7pm and 10pm. The best local programming comes from the brilliant if cash-strapped Gayelle, which broadcasts only locally produced material: great if you can deal with the occasionally low production values. Cable TV is universally available (and where it isn’t Direct TV satellites step in) showing a huge range of American channels and BBC World.

Radio is hugely popular, keeping the nation tapping its collective feet and serving as a source of information on upcoming events and parties. From November until Ash Wednesday, most stations are entirely devoted to soca and calypso, but after Carnival the mood switches abruptly and you’ll hear reggae, R&B, hip-hop, rock and the inevitable “slow jams”. The best stations for contemporary local music are Boom Champions 94.1 (wboomchampionstt.com) Red 96.7 (wred967fm.com), WEFM (w96wefm.com) With Energy For Music; (has a great breakfast show) and Slam 100.5 (wwww.slam1005.com) while numerous others broadcast East Indian music, chutney and chat. Tobago’s Radio Tambrin – 92.7FM – (wtambrintobago.com) is an excellent way of keeping informed.

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