Thursday, October 4, 2012

1977: If you feel that this is you

I'd have liked a career in radio. Well, up until I was 12.

Since I'd gone mad on music and was glued to the radio, it was a place I wanted to be. I really wanted to visit a radio station, and sooner than expected, here was my big chance.

Okay, it was hospital radio, but it was a start!

Mum and Dad had a friend who was a DJ on hospital radio. Desperate to fill hours of airtime he'd taken to interviewing his friends, a sort of 'in conversation' half-hour chit-chat with someone non-famous but local.

I remember each of them going to to record it, and coming home with a tape of the show. One of the subjects my dad brought to the table about how he'd recently been introduced to barbecuing by our new American neighbours. We all know how that ended.

But I badgered to visit this radio station, far away from the hospital, almost on the other side of town, until a favour was called in. So one evening we took the trip.

I don't recall much about the visit, except I had to read out a dedication to some woman who was in hospital and who 'resides in Guernsey'. I didn't know what that word meant and I stumbled over it. I was allowed to choose the record for her though, and while it was No.1 for just one week and so was at the front of the record box with all the discs arranged in chronological chart order was... Float On by the Floaters (on ABC Records with that yellow and pink centre, IIRC). That's probably most soothing if you're nil by mouth. No I Feel Love or Pretty Vacant here.

It all looked a bit complicated, a bit dark and a bit quiet, a bit like Clint Eastwood's studio in Play Misty For Me, but there were people watching you through glass. It didn't live up to expectations at all. So I went off the idea. For a while, at least. This wasn't exactly the big league. Give it five years and I be fascinated by it all over again. At one time my dream job would have been sorting out the records for radio shows. I still fantasize about what I'd play on my own slot, should I be allowed to create my own playlist. I never achieved that ambition. I just play DJ at home.

So those of you actually working in radio today - especially you Matt - you are the lucky ones. But just be thankful you're not Jimmy Savile, Mike Read, DLT ...*list of washed-up, scandal-dogged, disgraced, daft DJs goes on forever*


  1. I had a brief stint as a voluntary contributor at a BBC station when I was a student and it was a great laugh - I especially loved splicing up bits of tape with a scalpel to try and make amusing jingles. That docudrama on Kenny Everett last night reminded me of what unique fun radio could be. I wish I'd stuck with it.

    Was there ever a group more unattractively named than The Floaters?

  2. Our year of Radio Podrophenia - was magic. Everything we'd hoped it would be, at twice the speed. The station's gone into meltdown now - but I'm still double decking live of a Sunday afternoon, using an anything goes playlist. There really is no better feeling than getting a gethering bouncing around the room. See here..