On a recent Sunday, we spent time in the WMNF studios with the women behind long-time WMNF show the Karibbyan Kruze. Kzee, the show’s founding host, was out of town that day, but the Caribbean music and love continued in the capable and caring hands of alternating co-hosts Angela B., Lency Francis, and the show’s tech assistant Havana Blume.
It was the first time the women have appeared on-air together since March 2022.
“We are usually jamming out along with our listeners,” said Lency, who has co-hosted and done much of the board and tech work for the show over the last two and a half years.
“Kzee is a perfectionist, so we do a lot of preparation in advance,” Lency said. That preparation allows them the flexibility to respond in real-time to WMNF audience requests. She said, “You request it, we play it!”
Each week, people call in to add to a running list of the week’s audience and Caribbean celebrity birthdays. At 5:15 p.m., the hosts give a shout out to everyone on the list and the audience is treated to Lency singing along to the ‘Happy Birthday’ song by Byron Lee and the Dragonaires in her distinctive island accent.
Started decades ago by on-air host Kzee, the Karibbyan Kruze show is more than Jamaican reggae or Trinidadian and Tobagonian soca–it’s a musical journey that celebrates music and culture from across the Caribbean every Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m., ET.
“We always play the standards like Bob Marley, Gregory Isaacs, and Beres Hammond, because people have come to expect that,” Lency said, adding that they also introduce people to modern and international artists like Nailah Blackmon from Trinidad and Burna Boy from Nigeria.
Havana, who joined the show in 2021, creates an inspired musical transition from the African Safari show which airs from 3 to 4 p.m. “Havana is the glue to the operation,” Lency said. “She helps create the playlist. Every week she spices it up by introducing music from African artists and even speaks in her native language at times on air. Our listeners love it!”
Angela B., who joined the show in 1999, enjoys passing her broadcasting knowledge to Lency and Havana. “We have to bring the younger generations along to carry on Caribbean culture and traditions,” Angela said. “And with new technology, I’m learning, too!”
Bringing joy to others through accessibility and connection
“Our attitudes are what dictate our days,” Lency said. “I want to bring joy into the lives of people.”
Lency started out in radio as a teenager writing and voicing promos for WSTA 1340 AM in St. Thomas, the first radio station to broadcast in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Now a mother of two school-age sons, she focuses her time on making the world a better place–an apparent common purpose for all three women.
“I try to help as many people as possible,” said Angela. “People reach out to me and I include as many public service announcements as we can. We promote individual Caribbean community initiatives like toy donations for the upcoming holidays.”
Accessibility and connection to community are hallmarks of WMNF and especially of the Karibbyan Kruze show in their collective effort to bring joy to listeners.
Angela B. came to Tampa from New York City via San Diego, Calif. She first heard WMNF–on an airplane. Later she brought a CD of Christmas carols to the WMNF station house where she met Kzee. “He was so accessible!” she said. Angela has been a supporter and volunteer at WMNF ever since.
On the day of this interview, local reggae artist Manna Panna was waiting outside the station to drop off a copy of his latest CD. An hour later, Angela played a track, making WMNF the first station to air Manna Panna’s new music.
“We are still that community station that will play music that local artists bring to us,” Angela said.
Karibbyan Kruze Festival returns in March 2023!
Kzee, Angela B., Lency, and Havana are excited to announce the return of the Karibbyan Kruze Festival in March 2023, featuring DJ Spice, Impulse, and many more acts to be announced.
In the early days of the Karibbyan Kruze show, Angela recalls that listenership was low. Through conversations with local Caribbeanites, she realized WMNF needed a special event to bring in folks who enjoy reggae, ska, soca, calypso, and more. At the same time, WMNF was raising money for its new station building, and so the Karibbyan Kruze festival was born.
The festival has been a mainstay WMNF event and a proud celebration for the Tampa Bay Caribbean community for more than a decade.
Stay tuned for more Karibbyan Kruze Festival details!