What is today known as PJD2 Radio, The voice of St. Maarten came into being when Marius P. de Pree submitted a petition to the Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, to be granted permission to establish a broadcast station on the island of St. Maarten.
By federal resolution dated July 9th 1959 Mr. de Pree was granted the license. According to reports this gentleman was a central Government employee at Lands radio at the time.
The station was located in a backroom of the PMIA building. This building still stands and is located opposite Photo Gumbs on Backstreet. The Radio station was on the air daily from 7:00 pm until 10:00 pm. The first announcers were Sidney Lejuez, Rudy Lindeboom and the owner Marius de Pree.
Program material at that time comprised of requests from listeners who paid Nafls. 0,25 per request. There was a children’s programs aired from 6:00 – 7:00 pm with Uncle Sid (Sidney Lejuez) one of the pioneers of radio in St. Maarten in community announcements, these were all free of charge.
Early in 1961, Mr. de Pree was transferred to Curacao and in a casual conversation with Mr. Chester Wathey one of St. Maarten’s leading businessmen at the time and an agreement was reached whereby Mr.Chester Wathey would purchase the station outright from Mr. de Pree indicated that he had established it merely as a hobby but would gladly see it grow.
Shortly after the purchase of the station by Mr. Wathey more powerful transmitting equipment as well as other necessary items were added and very shortly the station began to grow and it’s popularity did not only remain on St. Maarten but also spread to the sister islands of Saba, Statia as well as the surrounding British islands.
During the 1960’s Mr. Wathey leased the operation to a well known preacher who’s name was Robert “Bob” Mayer from the United States and The Voice of St. Maarten, N.V. became the Voice of Hope to listeners in the region. Broadcasting religious programs daily from 6:00 am until 10:00 pm.
In 1973 a new group headed by Mr. Leonard Stein approached Mr. Wathey with a proposal to turn the station into a commercial venture. After much deliberation and negotiations Mr. Leonard Stein managed to open the “NEW 2” on January 1st 1973. this was the dawning of a new day in the history of St. Maarten. Mr. Vance James Jr. was appointed Managing Director of the Voice of the St. Maarten, N.V.
The Voice of St. Maarten, N.V. became well known for it’s 7-7 newscasts. Every citizen on the island tuned in to be updated on what was happening in St. Maarten as well as around the world.
The Voice of St. Maarten became a St. Maarten institution, well known for it’s honest and sometimes critical opinion. At times this station serves as the Voice of the people.
The late Vance James Jr. former Managing Director of the Voice Of St. Maarten, is gone but not forgotten. His presence is still felt in PJD2. Its a common saying here that he is still here, giving guidance. You see, before anything is done, we ask our self, is this what Vance would have wanted? Gone but not forgotten, a Father, a friend and a good boss.