It’s no exaggeration to say that my lockdown(s) mental health has been saved from the abyss by volunteering on my local community radio station.
I worked as a freelancer on the wonderful Radio 210, the local commercial radio station for the Thames Valley, from 1979 until 1984.
This started with, literally, recycling gash recording tape (yes, tape!) from bins.
Let’s step back a bit.
I was a bit of a lonesome creature, growing up.
I had some great times at primary school in Bude. But winning a scholarship to a public school rather thwarted local friendships during the school holidays.
Fortunately, I made some great friendships at West Buckland School, particularly in my sixth form years, which were wonderful.
As an outlet, I got interested in listening to the radio.
Radio Luxembourg was a particular passion – especially under the bed covers in my school dormitory on Tuesday nights when they did the Peter Stuyvesant Top Thirty with dear old Bob Stewart.
Even Radio Two was of some amusement as I tended the till at my mother’s Canal Forge shop near the lock gates in Bude.
When you’re desperate for music, Norrie Paramour and the Midland Dance Orchestra can seem quite a relief.
Ed Stewart did the first Radio One Roadshow at Bude. I turned up hours early and watched them setting up. It was quite magical to me. As we watched the show, it started to rain. I shared my anorak with a pretty girl.At that age, however, I was too tongue-tied to say anything to her. I just returned her smile.
I managed to pick up Radio Caroline (post-Tony Benn) and Radio NordSee in Bude. I loved it.
I remember hearing Radio 2 in the mornings. Brian Matthew used to start with a clip from “Singing in the rain” at 5.30am. Yes, 5.30am – I used to wake up early to listen to what was going on. “We’ve danced the whole night through, good morning, good morning to you” – was the song clip.
What else? Ed Stewart’s Junior Choice. He was a great broadcaster. So natural.
Johnnie Walker. A fantastic deejay.
…The list of my radio heroes and heroines is endless.
When I moved to London I absolutely fell in love with Capital 194. Roger Scott – what a fantastic broadcaster he was! Michael Aspel. Graham Dene. Peter Young. Duncan Johnston. Kenny Everett (again). A particular favourite was Kerry Juby. Also Tony Myatt. I really loved that station. It had such a fantastic jingle collection. Perhaps the best radio station ever in the 70s and 80s.
When I went to university in Reading in 1978, my room mate had the most unbelievably gorgeous sound system, which I was able to use to listen ro Radio 210.
I heard all the presenters in fantastically resounding stereo on my room mate’s wonderful stereo system. He was called John Ross, by the way. Thank you John!
Then my university career came to a hand-brake turn after a year and I went to the university careers centre.
The lady looked into her card system (that dates it).
“We have a note here from David Addis, the news editor at Radio 210, saying he would be keen to talk to anyone interested in a career in radio”.
OK. I said. I’ll contact him.
David was the most marvellously enthusiastic and charming individual. (I was also referred to a personnel fellow at the BBC who I saw and was very nice and encouraging. HE said I should consider a career as a producer.)
Anyway, David Addis was very welcoming. A marvellous chap, in fact. Quite brilliant and remarkably affable. I am extremely grateful to him. He helped me through a hazardous period of my life in more ways than one.
Would you like to recycle some of this tape? – he said, pointing to a massive bin full of gash recording tapes.
“Yes” I replied. Trying not to betray my feelings that this was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me!
To hear these fellows in the Radio 210 newsroom (see some above) talking normally to each other, after hearing them on the remarkably brilliant John Ross stereo system, was just magical.
I was floating on air as I went into an empty studio to recycle these bits of tape by sticking them together with editing tape….
TO BE CONTINUED.
Fast forward (for the moment) to Kennet Radio in 2020 and my Musical Circle from 7th November, which includes Kevin Ayers, John Otway and Wild Willy Barrett.