Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Radio Days...

I’ve not had quite so much opportunity to blog recently, Morley FM has required my physical presence getting the Studio ready.

I’ve never got directly involved in Radio before, although have been a semi-pro DJ off and on, earning my first remuneration (£30) to run all of the school Discos at age 17. I can recall visiting Radio Newcastle in the mid-70s (as a “Young Scientist”) and being surprised to see a rack of tuners for re-broadcast of other (BBC) stations when they weren’t transmitting.

Newcastle Hospital Radio occasionally used to broadcast shows from the City Hall, their technicians turning up with a large rack of very vintage equipment that rivalled our own in-house Tannoy gear under the stage.

I also remember the inaugural broadcast of Mercia Sound, Coventry’s new commercial Radio station which started in 1979 (or maybe 1980). I set the clock radio specially for it, presumably at 6am or some such time. The breakfast presenter was Gordon Astley who was fairly wacky & I think he has been on telly occasionally. I think I listened for about 2 minutes then went back to sleep!

Gordon’s signature gag was “Body check, two of everything down the outside, one of everything up the middle…”

A few weeks later, on returning from an event feeling very mellow (i.e. half-cut), I put the radio on whilst getting ready for bed and heard half a dozen absolutely top tracks from their equally mellow night jock. Uncharacteristically, I decided to ring up the station & congratulate him & was surprised to be answered and praise accepted. On returning to my room, I found that the next record was dedicated to “Ian in Hillfields who was enjoying the show”. On subsequent listens, however, the interaction with the presenters was much curtailed, they had gotten hold of a box that played a jingle and told you the lines were closed right now…

My first work trip abroad was to Norway and my link to the UK was being able to pick up the Radio 1 Sunday chart show on medium wave as Stavanger was on the South West coast and you could (just about) pick it up.

The following year, I spent it in Saudi Arabia based in Dhahran, the Oil City of the Arabian-American Oil Company, Aramco. The radio was certainly our friend (if somewhat sanitised and censored to the level of paranoia) and I actually worked in the building that housed Aramco’s TV and Radio stations. However, security was tight and I never made it to the broadcast suite.

I used to tune into the World Service quite frequently when working or travelling abroad, although I tend to sanity-check their output with the Internet these days.

A few weeks ago, I enjoyed seeing around Radio Leeds and was impressed how much easier computers make the technical operation, provided you have the money! We were given lots of useful advice from various people, although I buttoned my lip somewhat whilst they banged on about how important it was to retain their charter. (I personally feel that the telly tax should be retired, even if we have to put up with adverts instead. It won’t be a hard transition, the BBC is already full of adverts… for itself!)

I may have possibly ruffled the feathers of the head of religion & ethics when I told him that thought for the day was my cue to put the car CD player on, but he started it, talking about why people change channels!

Now we have a studio of our own. It is small, cramped and full of 2nd hand equipment, some of which can best be described as tat. Still, the night time hour is calling, where did I put those soft rock, blues & soul records…?

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