Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of Tom Jacobs
This Black-Produced T.V. Series Aims To Show The Real Caribbean To The World
There are dozens of travel shows that give viewers the honeymoon depictions of their favorite destinations. While the shows may highlight the areas that appeal to the general tourist, they don’t necessarily show the authenticity of a destination.
Many Caribbean destinations have an appeal to them that certain shows aren’t willing to explore. Tom Jacobs, a long time producer, is looking to change that.
He, along with a team of professionals scattered across several countries, have come together to produce one of the few Black-produced Caribbean travel shows, Secrets of the Caribbean.
Tom was simply tired of seeing shows only about resorts, beaches, the new mega-cruise ship, or hurricanes. He knew there were so many more stories to be told.
We spoke with Tom about his series and his vision for it.
TN: Tell us about this show and what the premise is.
Tom: Secrets of the Caribbean are the stories of the “real” Caribbean. From stories on “Robert Righteous,” a 78-year-old Rastafarian drummer, singer, and restaurant owner on Mayreau to Ivy Cartygumbs, a marvelous chef on Anguilla who fixes heavenly food. People like Orton “Brother” King, the turtle man of Bequia, who has devoted his life to saving his beloved sea turtles and Tess Verhij, a Dutch painter who uses art therapy to help children traumatized in St. Maarten by the hurricanes. These are the stories you won’t find on other programs and just a few of the thousands of stories that we hope to tell in the next few years.
TN: How does a show like this appeal to Black travelers?
Tom: There’s been a growing movement among folks of all ages to get in touch with who they are. The growth of genealogy shows and a general hunger for knowledge makes this the ideal show for African-Americans. Many of us connected in some way to the Caribbean. Our Latino, Indian, and Asian brothers and sisters will find this program of interest too. When you really start to dive into the history, there’s a lot of different cultures that have roots in the Caribbean.
TN: What led you to create and produce this series?
Tom: Like most journalists, I am fundamentally a storyteller and someone who is curious. I was working on another story several years ago the had a Caribbean connection, but I had trouble finding information on the person I was researching. It seemed odd, but as I looked further, there just wasn’t a lot of stuff available and certainly not on television. It was resorts, beaches, cruise ships and hurricanes. There had to be more and I wanted to tell those stories.
TN: How and when do you shoot this show?
Tom: We made four 1-2 week trips last year and we’ve already done two this year with at least 4 more scheduled. One of the greatest things about our trips is how we travel. We sail on a historic tall ship, the S/V Mandalay. The ship has quite a history, from being used by the military in World War II to being one of the greatest oceanographic research vessels in history when it was owned by Columbia University.
This year will take us more into the Western Caribbean. But there are 28 island groups, so I think we’ll be busy for the next few years.
TN: How can our readers access this show?
Tom: Currently, we are carried on One Caribbean Television which services most of the Caribbean and several East Coast cities, like D.C. Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Chicago. One Caribbean is also available in the larger Canadian markets: Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. We’re carried in 25 SSN-TV markets, including L.A., Seattle, Minneapolis, Dallas, Tampa and several others. A complete list to cities and times are on our website: www.secretsofthecaribbean.net.