Off Island Profile: Frederick Morton Jr.

July 26, 2006 – Turn on the television and it seems like St. Croix native Frederick Morton Jr. is everywhere promoting MTV's Tempo channel. Catch him just before the Tropical Update on the Weather Channel, on Lifetime and on countless other channels.
Morton, Tempo's senior vice president and general manager, put together the Caribbean-focused channel with the goal of uniting the Caribbean.
"There is a oneness in the region that no one's ever been able to fully capture," he said during a phone interview from his New York office.
Tempo took to the airwaves Nov. 21, 2005, and now airs in 20 Caribbean countries. Morton said he's working on expansion into North America and European countries with sizable Caribbean populations.
Tempo's diverse programming list reflects Morton's Caribbean upbringing. Viewers will find shows like "Pull Up Selecta," a program featuring hot up-and-coming island artists, and "One Love," a series of public service announcements that tackles thorny social issues facing Caribbean residents.
Another program, "Rise and Shine," has a direct link to what Morton sees as the region's spiritual side. "We went to church every Sunday," he said.
Morton, 37, lived on Hill Street in Christiansted while he was growing up. His parents, Nevis natives Deloris and Frederick Morton Sr., owned the Tree Top Grocery on Hill Street.
He gives all the credit for his success to his parents, who recently moved back to Nevis. "Education was a focus for them," he said.
He attended the Manor School, Seventh-day Adventist School and St. Joseph's High School.
Morton has one sibling, Dawn Morton, who is an attorney in Maryland.
After graduation, Morton headed off to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J., for a bachelor's degree in economics and theater. At Rutgers, he quickly got involved in the West Indian Student Association, where he served as president.
"I was always a Caribbean kind of guy," he said.
He studied law at Rutgers in a joint program with Columbia University that also got him a master's degree in public administration.
After a stint as a law clerk with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, Morton worked as an attorney with Simpson Thatcher & Bartlett in New York, where he represented numerous Fortune 500 companies, including Viacom, which is MTV's parent company.
He then served as corporate counsel for the New Brunswick-based Johnson & Johnson. At night, he moonlighted as a nightclub owner in Irvington, N.J. "It was a schizophrenic life," he admitted.
He subsequently joined Viacom's legal department, where he eventually served as the company's chief legal counsel.
All the while, he nursed the dream of combining his legal expertise and passion for Caribbean culture.
"My skills as a litigator helped me persuade MTV networks to see my vision of a channel devoted to the vibrant Caribbean culture," he said.
With his open shirt and attitude, it's hard to believe that Morton once worked in such a buttoned-down corporate culture as Johnson & Johnson, a multinational company with a huge product line including Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages.
But he said that his time in Johnson & Johnson's corporate culture served him well when he went to Viacom, a place he likened to the "wild, wild west" when it came to corporate procedures.
"I was able to make immediate improvements," he said.
Currently Morton, a Newark, N.J., resident, is jetting around the world working on Tempo details. Single, with no kids, he said he currently has no time for the kind of life that would require a bit of settling down.
"Someday," he said.
For more information, visit Tempo's Web site.
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