More Than Sea, Sand, and Sun

BE: Will Tempo do for the Caribbean what MTV has done for U.S. culture?
FM: The goal is not exactly that linear. My interest is in elevating Caribbean people and having the region recognized for the powerful, vibrant force that it is. The first way to do that is to try to unite the region. The power is in coming together and marketing and promoting and placing it on one single platform. What MTV did for uniting the U.S. audience, Tempo will do, but even more so. MTV didn’t have a region attached to it; this has a region, a people who then get the benefit of exposing their extraordinary culture.

BE: How do you do that?
FM: With programs that dive into culture. For the first time we’re beginning to know through Tempo what’s happening across the water between us rather than what’s happening in North America and everywhere else.

BE: Do you plan to televise Tempo in the U.S.?
FM: Most definitely. That would be the natural extension, to expand in North America, the U.K., Canada, but the whole thing is you have to start where it really starts.

BE: How did you pitch the idea of Tempo?
FM: I talked to Tom Freston, then chairman of MTV Networks, my mentor. He knew there could be something there because he’s a global kind of guy who knows the region. I knew that he was open to ideas. A three- to five-page document turned into a 20-pager. I think it was at the third meeting, he said “If you’re serious, you’ve got to run it through the organization.” I got the green light Valentine’s Day 2005. We launched in November of 2005 on six different islands: Jamaica, St. Martin, St. Croix, Barbados, Trinidad, and Nevis. We were in 17 islands during our second week.

BE: Tempo has also expanded opportunities for music acts.
FM: Absolutely. Tempo has changed the game in many ways for Caribbean artists because this platform has taken their careers to another level. r