She’s beautiful and brainy – she keeps interviewees on their toes, and her wealth of local knowledge keeps them honest.
At the same time, her congeniality and honesty keeps them comfortable — and the hot seat bearable.
It was has made Barrie Quappe a household name, and in less than three years the amiable host of Rooster 101.9’s Cayman Crosstalk has put her stamp on morning talk radio.
‘People say some of the nicest things about the show,’ Barrie said in an interview at the station’s new Crighton building studio across from the airport.
‘One of the nicest was a lady who said: ‘I can’t have my cup of coffee without you every morning, because I feel very informed. You’re not just a horrible news-oriented show. You also tell us wonderful things about the community.”
That’s what turns Barrie on: feeling she has done a good job of informing people about what’s happening in their community.
She’s comfortable with the show’s format, because she is the one who defines it. She gives credit to her bosses at Hurley’s Group for the ‘support and the freedom’ to run the show the way she thinks appropriate. Creating ‘an honest, conversational mode’ during the two-hour programme helps Barrie ensure that Cayman Crosstalk avoids being ‘scripted and stilted’.
That’s why she doesn’t like to have questions prepared in advance. She hopes her reputation will persuade guests she is ‘not here to ambush anyone’, and she wants future guests to know that she’s there simply to ‘have an honest conversation’.
Barrie has her own likes and dislikes, but focuses on being non-judgmental. Even when getting to the bottom of an issue, it’s important to her that callers and guests speak their ‘truth’, an evenhandedness she attributes to her nurse’s training.
‘I was trained by a group of nuns who moulded and enhanced my natural inclination to be fair and compassionate. They said [you must be tolerant] no matter if you agree or disagree with somebody’s religious beliefs.
‘Every human being that comes on this programme, should be treated with dignity,’ she said, but adds: ‘I’m not hesitant to cut you off if I feel you’re being rude or disrespectful.’
Post-Ivan, Cayman Crosstalk has not been reaching as many people. Before the storm, Rooster broadcast as far as the Sister Islands. Now, Bodden Town in the east and the Public Beach in the west are the station’s broadcast boundaries.
The hurricane destroyed the station’s Walkers Road tower, which has been replaced with a similar, if smaller, setup.
‘It’s been hard on the staff,’ Barry said, but ‘these are restrictions that the whole country has been dealing with.’
Although the possibility of returning to its original site has been discussed, the station will remain where it is for the moment while planning for upgraded broadcast capacity.
Producing Cayman Crosstalk is done ‘basically on my cell phone and a laptop that my husband got for me,’ she said, vowing to get back on track as soon as possible.
The show’s format calls for live studio guests discussing topical issues from Monday to Thursday, and an open-mike call-in on Fridays.
As long as listeners feel that the programme is doing some good, ‘that works for me’, she said.
For example, a recent show on breast cancer with Dr. Steve Tomlinson resulted in several inquiries to the hospital.
‘We may have saved at least one life … because one of those women had a growth that was cancerous,’ Barrie said.
A lot of her guests are politicians, and she appreciates their willingness to appear.
‘They’re not used to (the talk-show format). They’re used to issuing press releases, saying what their position is, and then you go vote for them. But interacting? That’s still fairly new to them, so I think it’s generous of them to come on the show,’ she said.
Having politicians in the hot seat is useful, she said, because it’s important to know how they will react under pressure.
‘If they’re going to go to the UN and all over to represent the rest of us, I want to know how they will react under the pressure of people who know how to apply pressure.’
Cayman Crosstalk is a show that is unrestricted, but, Barrie says, ‘It has a conscience.’