Sunday 17 November 2013


When I started in this industry back in 1977..... This feels like only yesterday incidentally. Probably as my father marrying my Mum back in 1951 feels to him. Although my photographs are in colour and his are black and white.

This passage of time is interesting to me as many of the people I worked with at the start of my career were from a romantic and nostalgic period in broadcasting. People who had been part of the BBC's Western Region. Or the Home, the Light and the Third.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs I even met Marconi's widow. Without him there would have been no radio....although where we are now I dare say someone else would have had to have invented it at some point.

So what is the point I am trying to make?  Am I going down the dinosaur route to rail against modern radio?

Just as elderly comedians who are no longer 'box office' gripe about the new generation of comics: How many times have you heard a slightly bitter old stand up interviewed. The sort who tells us:

"We didn't need to use bad language like they do now. We told jokes that the whole family could enjoy"!

Hmmmm you are forgetting that things move on and some of those good old gags from my 60's and 70's youth involved a lot more pernicious stuff than a few rude words.

"Irishman goes into a pub mate Chalky......Bengal Lancers"!

Oops... as usual diverting onto a soapbox there.

So how have things changed over the years? Obviously the technology.

I played vinyl and the occasional 78rpm disc when I was a boy broadcaster.  Then along came CDs.  This was a huge leap as for the first time you couldn't see which tracks you were playing. Oddly this was harder to grasp than the move from CD to the current incarnation: The computer hard drive.

Maybe it's a side effect if age but things are now moving a lot faster.

Shortly after the hard drive came the studio web cam. Then the email. Then the Twitter and Facebook. All have made interaction with you so much more instant and simple. It has changed the way the programme works. In the old days you'd throw a few ideas out and wait a couple of days and see what the post brought in. Now with the Internet you responses are waiting for us when we arrive in the morning.

So what is next?  Well pictures on the radio.  We started with a few snaps for the website. These became more sophisticated in terms of their execution rather than their subject matter. Now we're moving forward to video. Check out my page on the Radio 2 website for examples!

Since new producer Kid Methuselah has happened on the scene we've been planning our assault on the world not only by the daily stupidity that is the Best Time of the Day Show but also how we can add extra fun to the mix.

As 'The Kid' is from the commercial radio world, he would term it 'adding value to the brand'. And with tongue firmly in cheek - citing some of the nonsense he's heard senior management types utter over the years - "benchmark items we can cascade to the listener through regular idea showers".

It is going to take some time but we hope to wean him off such terrible jargon!

So we are now making our own films. So far I've danced to your own choreography. I've accidentally slaughtered Janice Long and Sara Cox as "Daft Vader" and in the latest video, I'm taking on the role of a sort of hairy Superman!

We are having a lot of fun making them and we see them as an add-on to the radio show. Expect it to develop as time goes on. How far will it go? I've no idea but if it helps to close the gap between the media pash on all things 'TeeVee' and us plodders on the Senior Service; the wireless. That to me can only be a good thing.

In the words of Kid Methuselah: "Lets pop it in their mental microwave and see if it goes ping"!

Thursday 7 November 2013


It's just been that time of the year.  The time of the year that until recently we didn't bother about. Now thanks to our special relationship with our American cousins. It has nearly eclipsed our traditional day at this time.

Not sure when it started to seep into the British consciousness but it has.

As a kid, there was the one special event after summer and before Christmas; Guy Fawkes Night.

We looked forward to it and planned for it. We saved for sparklers and those matches that glowed green or red when lit.  We weren't allowed to buy fireworks although we tried.  Some older kids succeeded and often blew themselves up.

When I first started in local radio amid the record requests. Chemists rotas and lost pets there was the annual visit from the local fire chief to warn us of the dangers of fireworks.  Do they still do that?

Children would hijack the family pushchair and wheel around a baggy shapeless selection of old clothing stuffed with newspaper with a cheap mask or maybe even some paper mâché creation to make a head. Then they would drag this thing round the streets trying to elicit donations.

"Penny for the guy mister"

Last time this question was posed must have been about 20 years ago coming out of a pub in Hastings Old Town.

"He's drunk"

"No I'm not" I said indignantly!

"Not you. Him." They said pointing to a bag of rags on the pavement which I can only assume was meant to resemble a guy.  Obviously  creativity was beginning to suffer at this point so the energy had gone from the event.

So at some point Halloween struck.  Perhaps like St Patricks Day which seems to be a marketing exercise for Guinness. It would appear Halloween makes bigger bucks. What with all the ghoulish clothing and the pumpkins.

In fact I was dispatched by the Dark Lady to go get a pumpkin so my Step daughter Ella could fashion something eek worthy for the fright night.

About this time the call came through.  Would I like to present an edition of Friday Night is Music Night?  Would I?!

This is a piece of broadcasting legend and history. Who could turn down the offer of standing in front of a packed theatre audience. With an 80 piece orchestra ready to go?

So given the notes and the list of tunes I set to to write the script.

Often the show is live. On this occasion it was recorded as live the evening before. However still at the same time.

We made a special video to mark the event:

It was decided by Bridget Apps the Producer that I would do the call and response for "Ghostbusters".  During the rehearsal it became apparent that I just had no sense of rhythm. A tin ear and despite having heard the song a zillion times. I couldn't figure out which bit was mine!

"Who ya gonna who's callin who you gonna callbust"?

So Robert Zeigler the conductor kindly agreed to poke his baton on my direction. When a ghostly ejaculation was called for.

Being all ham. I decided that a costume was necessary so rushed to the pound shop and bought a cape. Fangs. Fake blood and white pancake makeup.

A listener had kindly given me another cape so I was able to change during the interval as well as applying liberal amounts of fake gore.

Not sure about the audience but I has the best time. Although I did have to remove the fangs as they made my speech so muffled I wasn't able to be understood.

I like to think that it went pretty well. There were a couple of retakes. Only one was my fault and that was because I had forgotten to introduce myself.

It was a rip snorter of a show however I think Halloween has the upper hand. I also have a sneaking suspicion that in a generation or less Guy Fawkes Night will be all but forgotten sadly.

Caroline - an American listener - emailed and asked:

"When you gonna give up on this Guy guy? It's years ago. Get over it".

I replied with my usual British reserve and dignity:

"When you stop celebrating Thanksgiving and Independence Day."!