by Larry Smith
Back in the day, electronic entertainment for Bahamians consisted of scratchy LP records, clunky 8-track tapes, boring Zephyr-Nassau-Sunshine radio, and touch-and-go reception of a few Miami television stations.
To receive those grainy transmissions (on channels 2, 4, 7, and 10) you had to install costly rooftop antennas (a pain in the neck to take down during hurricane season) along with special “signal boosters”. And even then, bad weather would produce a blank, snow-filled screen.
In America, cable television began cramping the style of over-the-air television networks in the 1970s. The first satellite delivery of programming to cable occurred in 1976 when Home Box Office televised Mohammed Ali and Joe Frazier’s “Thrilla in Manilla”.
That same year a Stanford University professor built the first consumer direct-to-home satellite system. It was a large dish-shaped antenna used to pick up cable TV programmes distributed by content providers (like HBO) to their subscribers.
In the early 1980s Bahamians went crazy over this space-age technology . Sales of big-dish satellite receivers soared, and anyone with a passing interest in electronics could set up shop and make a fortune supplying local demand.