A man with a familiar voice on the local airwaves, particularly on Radio Polynesia Star FM, has passed away.
Ben Tologata, better known as Big Ben, passed away last week in Savai’i where he was working.
Big Ben’s sudden death came as a shock to people who knew him.
His friend and former work colleague at Radio Polynesia, Patrick Levy said he shared a common bond with Big Ben for music.
“We shared the same taste in music,” Mr. Levy, better known as DJ Tricky, said.
“He shared with me a lot of his knowledge of different artists and songs. He really knew his music and I would ask him about certain songs and who sang the original etc. Because I was a DJ and knew Ben had a similar selection to what I played, I asked him many times to be my sidekick at weddings, parties and nightclubs.”
Mr. Levy recalled at certain gigs Ben would know when to jump in and take over.
“We could both read the crowds we were playing to,” he said.
“He would know what type of music that would suit the crowd at a certain time. I would usually start of and then he'll finish. He always said to me, "you do the hard part (always D's beginning of our gigs) and I'll do the easy part is finishing off."
“We worked well together as a DJ dual. I didn't have to tell him what to do or say on the microphone, he already knew what to say and when to say it through his years of announcing on the radio.”
A former radio announcer on Star FM, Mr. Levy said Ben was one of the reasons he decided to join the team at Radio Polynesia.
“Because of our friendship he tried his best to persuade me to join him which I eventually did. We basically were the ones who started Star FM 96.1 after it was changed from KROQ.”
But Ben had other talents other than being a radio announcer.
According to Mr. Levy, Ben was an excellent sports reporter.
“I used to be amazed at the different sporting personalities he would interview on his sports programme called On the Bench,” he said.
“His knowledge for different sports was amazing. He loved his Aussie Rules, League but mostly his beloved Liverpool Football Club.”
The last time Mr. Levy spoke with Ben was last Sunday when they were out buying some food.
He said Ben was excited about leaving for Savai’i and had planned to meet with him next week.
“I told him I was coming over next week and we made plans to meet at Stevenson’s Manase for our usual drinking session,” he said. “I offered him a ride home and he said he had a taxi waiting for him. His last words to me was "Later dude"…that was the last time I heard from him.”
Mr. Levy said his friend Ben will always be remembered by the songs that he would sing, What’s Up by 4Non Blondes and Something Stupid by Frank Sinatra.
“Ben had many friends from different walks of life. He was very humorous too and always made people laugh. He got along with everyone.”
Another known face in the community, Sioeli Taulealeausumai Alofaifo was shocked about the news.
Mr. Alofaifo said Ben will be greatly missed by the community and those that knew him.
He described the announcer as “timid, quiet and independent”.
“He does his own work,” said Mr Alofaifo. “He has so much experience in what he does that he will be someone that is hard to replace. He loves his sports and I admired him because of the sports stars that he connects with overseas."
“He is very popular with those sports talk show.”
Big Ben worked at the Radio Polynesia in 1993.
He was an announcer and did production work on the radio. From the village of Faleapuna he worked at Cocktails on the Rocks before he moved to Savai’i to work for Stevenson’s at Manase.