ON HER MIND: "I have a lot of strong convictions about whatever it is that I’m doing," shares the rising radio hostess.
If you ask Basillia Barnaby-Cufe to name the female Jamaican journalists she most admires, she’ll immediately mention such beloved and successful personalities as Colleen Beckles and Khadine ‘Miss Kitty’ Hylton. Banking on her poise, her faith, and immense likeability, Miss Barnaby-Cuffe has what it takes to become one herself.
At age seven when she made that first call to Beckles’ (aka Auntie Colleen) popular Small People programme on Love FM, she couldn’t possibly have known that 19 years later, fresh out of college, she’d land a job as a news reporter and freelance radio announcer at the station, subsequently earning full-time employment. “It is surreal. Auntie Colleen cries almost every day,” the 25-year-old Northern Caribbean University grad smilingly reflects, sitting in the station’s Hagley Park Road lobby, after five years on the job. “When I finished college I was supposed to go overseas to do my Masters. I got through and everything, but for some reason it just wouldn’t work out. But I always knew I wanted to come back here to work. I applied and I got through.”
It’s a job that has positioned her smack in the midst of Jamaica’s high-energy gospel industry: a heady mix of concert emceeing, motivational pep talks and charity work – not to mention copping a Prime Minister’s Youth Award and keeping her young fans entertained as host of Love FM’s Saturday afternoon music-and-message fest Youth Connection.
To her credit, the Glenmuir High alum has managed to take on all of this without losing that keen sense of who she is at heart or compromising that all-important thrill of self-discovery. “It takes a lot of willpower. It takes a lot of determination. It takes a lot of perseverance,” admits Basillia, who spent her coming-of-age days (in a rather sizeable family) between Lionel Town in Clarendon and Hatfield in Manchester. “You really have to love whatever field you’re in and have a passion for what you’re doing. I have a lot of strong convictions about whatever it is that I’m doing, and that’s what keeps me going.”
One person who is absolutely certain of the bright future that awaits Basillia is her hubby, Brian Cuffe, a fellow Love FM staffer whom she wed this past January after a near five-year courtship. “I think what makes her so special is her heart,” Cuffe reveals. “She’s a real person, warm, genuine, caring. I’ve seen her interact with old, young, middle-age, everybody. And what you see is what you get.”
> HER CHOICE: “Many years ago I read the Ben Carson story [Gifted Hands],” Basillia says of the book that made a difference to her, “and I was so inspired because he was told he couldn’t, but he did after such a rough life. And that really encouraged me because I didn’t have a hard life. So it’s like, What’s my excuse?”