Aug. 21, 2005 – Before he states his name over the airwaves, most talk radio listeners in the Virgin Islands can clearly detect the voice of Wayne “Facts Man” Adams.
The V.I. native has become an icon on local talk radio shows, calling in everyday to give some bit of historical data to the listening public.
As the history buff sat near the Tutu Park Mall one Thursday afternoon, he decided to reveal a bit of himself to the public, whom he supplied “historical information” each day.
“I was born on Friday, July 12, 1963, in St. Thomas to Mario and Doreen Adams, weighing seven pounds and two ounces,” Adams said. “I was born in the Knud Hansen Memorial Hospital at about 12:30 p.m.”
This attention to facts, dates and details is one of the things that makes Adams stand out, and is the reason why he earned the name “Facts Man.”
“Reginald ‘Ras Regg’ Martin gave me the name, ‘Facts Man’ in October of 1988,” Adams said, adding this was one month after he started his own publishing company, the Historic Institute.
The name caught on, and even as he sat at the mall, passersby shouted, “Hey Facts Man,” as they went on their way.
“I wanted to be a historian from the time I was eight years old,” Adams said.
He recalled his early childhood days at the Jane E. Tuitt Elementary School when his mother first bought him a book listing all the presidents of the United States. Adams said he learned the presidents by heart and was able to say their names in order of the time they served. Even now he can recite all 43 presidents of the United States, from George Washington to the current George W. Bush.
Adams said after going to Tuitt Elementary, he attended Wayne Aspinall Junior High School, now Addelita Cancryn, and then went on to graduate from the Charlotte Amalie High School in the top 10 of his class in 1981.
Adams studied sociology with a concentration in history for two years at the College of the Virgin Islands, now University of the Virgin Islands, before going on to further his studies at Jacksonville University in Jacksonville, Fla. However, Adams did not complete his bachelor’s degree.
“I got fed up with college, and I was getting ill, so I decided to quit,” Adams said. “At that time I had a 3.04 grade point average, but I said to myself ‘Let me bail out of here.'”
Adams talked freely of his struggle with manic depression or bipolar disorder, a challenge that he has been dealing with since his teen years.
“I was diagnosed as a manic depressive at the age of 15,” Adams said, adding that he still has episodes every now and then. He admitted his last episode was last year, but next month would make a full year that he didn’t have an episode if all went well.
Adams said, “At first I was in denial. I didn’t want to accept [the disease] or take my medication.”
“My parents stuck with me throughout,” Adams said of his dad, 81, and his mother, 75. “If it wasn’t for the Lord Jesus Christ, and my two supportive parents, I would not have made it so far in life.”
Adams said he has now learned to accept his condition and take his medication.
Adams said unfortunately there are not many support services in the territory for people with his condition, but those who suffer from bipolar disorder and seek the help they need can manage the disease with the support of friends and family.
And despite his illness, Adams has made a name for himself and sought to help his community, even running for Senate four times, though unsuccessfully. He first ran in 1984 at the age of 21.
“I have the distinction of being the youngest person to run,” Adams said, adding that 21 is the youngest anyone could run for a Senatorial position.
He then ran again in 1990 and placed 11th with 4,886 votes. Adams said that was the year he gained the most votes. He also ran in 1996 and then again in 2002.
Adams said he has no plans to run for the Senate again. He will focus rather on his publishing company, the Historic Institute. Through his company, Adams has produced historical booklets, CDs, tapes and posters, including posters on former governor Cyril E. King, Ulric Ferrari, and Irvin “Brownie” Brown. He sells these items to support himself and his business.
“I now focus mainly on black history,” Adams said.
The self-made historian also has a love for travel and has visited Zimbabwe, Zambia, Liberia, Jamaica and Grenada. Adams credits his trip to Grenada for sparking his interest in the Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM). Recently, he has been pushing for the territory to become a part of the organization, contacting various CARICOM heads and asking senators to write to them.
He said that CARICOM had been a part of his platform when he ran one year, but the recent news reports that Gov. Charles W. Turnbull had contacted the federal government about the territory joining the organization revived his efforts.
Adams said his biggest motivation through life has been his father, Mario, who has been there for him through the years and has taught him much, including how to ride a bicycle. Adams said he admires his dad for his ability to stand firm by what he believes despite what others may think.
He said, “Those qualities have made him my role model.”
Related reading: Wayne Adams: In Death and In Life, One in a Million