After more than 40 years in the broadcast business, Mike Martin, general manager and director of WestStar, has announced his retirement.
Mr. Martin and his wife, Brenda, moved to Grand Cayman in 1992, for what they believed would be a short stint with a fledgling cable and broadcast company.
“I took early retirement from the company that I’d worked for in the States, Brenda and I came down here, and I thought I’d work three to five years, but became so involved in the company and the Island that we just didn’t go anywhere,” Mr. Martin said.
Now, after some 21 years with WestStar, Mr. Martin has decided that it is time for him to retire again, this time for real.
“The company was sold, Mr. Rod Hansen retired, and we’re moving into a new era with all this digital and fibre and such, and it’s time for me to step down, relax, and let some of these younger people figure all this technology out,” he said with a smile.
When Mr. Martin joined CITN he was one of the only people there with previous broadcast experience, having worked his way through the ranks doing everything from studio camera to directing, and even spending a bit of time behind the anchor desk before eventually retiring in 1992 as vice president of production for Gannett Broadcasting.
“In the beginning, training people unfamiliar with the business was a very important part of my work, because we had a limited budget for personnel, and of course we wanted as many Caymanians as we could hire. Our goal was to train Caymanians and I think we did that,” he said.
Testament to the success of the training is the number of those early trainees who have worked their way through the ranks in the company and are still there, either as camera men, engineers, anchors or even Mr. Martin’s replacement as general manager, April Cummings.
“Seeing April put in her management position here is a highlight for me because I worked with her back when she was 21 or 22, so that’s very satisfactory,” he said.
In fact, seeing people rise through the ranks is one of the things Mr. Martin will look back on with the greatest pride.
“That’s one of my most satisfactory things that I’ve had happen to me here, because I’m a people person, and I had some good trainers when I started out very young in the business, mentors that helped me through the years, so I’m always trying to give back in that area. I try to help train and grow people in the business because I love the business and I love to see people succeed in it,” he said.
Another highlight has been seeing the company grow from a small operation to one that Mr. Martin considers a “real television operation”.
“We’ve grown into a real operation where we produce programming and news that’s as good as any that you see in the Caribbean and a lot of areas in the States. It’s a professional operation now, so that’s the biggest highlight, and now moving into the digital world,” he said.
Due to the size of Cayman’s population, the television station was able to become very involved in the community, which Mr. Martin found refreshing.
“Our philosophy has always been to give back and we try to use our airwaves and our television operation to help people wherever we can, raising funds or giving them airtime. That’s been very rewarding, working with the different groups,” he said.
Although there are many elements of his work that he will miss once he retires, the one thing he will not miss is midnight phone calls when things go wrong.
“That’s the part I’m not going to miss, and that’s happened a lot, over the years, with storms and different things over the years,” he laughed.
Even though he will be keeping an eye on how things progress at WestStar and CITN, Mr. Martin said it will be a relief to do so from the outside and that he had confidence in the people he had trained over the years.
“They’ll do alright; we’ve got a great staff,” he said.