Paperback Writer

A friend of mine kindly asked "When are you going to write your radio adventures and memoirs? Now *there* is a book I would pay lots to read". It's not the first time I'd been asked but this time it got me thinking.

It is often said that there is a book inside everyone and this could be mine. After all, I have been doing this radio stuff for a living since 1974, worked with some amazing people and have a wealth of anecdotes - many of which can be recounted without attracting the attention of m'learned friends - so I thought it was worth giving it a go.

Which is why I've been going through old archives and memorabilia - letters, photos, memos, contracts and radio station crew jackets etc. - and started to write.

It's an interesting exercise if nothing else - and, of course, it's been fun re-living and recounting some past memories.

Watch this space!

I've used one Beatles song as the title for this blog post but maybe the words of another are equally appropriate right now:

There are places I remember
All my life, though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places had their moments
With lovers and friends
I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I've loved them all

Kenny Everett

I occasionally produced Kenny Everett's show on Capital Gold. Ev was one of the greatest broadcasters who ever existed. I had been a big fan of his since the 1960s and having the opportunity to work with him was a great privilege.

Kenny left Capital in Summer 1994. When I left the station myself a few months later I sent him an invitation to my leaving party. Although he was unable to attend he did send me this fax. What more can I say?

The First Record I Bought

Absolute Radio's Geoff Lloyd has written a heartfelt blog piece about how he fell in love with The Beatles - Paul McCartney has been a guest on his 'Hometime Show' this week.

"If The Beatles’ music is special to you, then you already know why it’s such a big deal for Macca to come in. If The Beatles do little or nothing for you, then you either have no soul, or you haven’t reached your road to Damascus moment yet...

...The Beatles songs that are hardwired into my memory are ‘Yellow Submarine’ and ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. The former has long since joined the ranks of nursery rhyme, so it’s easy to work out how that one got itself in there.

The latter was recorded over a decade before my brain became cognisant, but is such a template for perfect pop that it still blared out of the transistor radio, towering over the hits of the day. People often love the songs they fell in love to: ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ is the soundtrack to the world falling in love with The Beatles."

‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ was the first record I ever bought - "late December back in '63" (really!) - using a record token I had been given for my 10th birthday! I still have it - it's now a bit worn (but still in quite playable condition) and the original paper sleeve has become a bit tatty over the past 45 years, but that record represents a major point in my life.

After reading Geoff's excellent piece I just had to dig it out and play it. While enjoying hearing it again it brought back many memories of how exciting it was to go into the record shop in Ruislip, hand over the record token in exchange for that 7″ piece of vinyl and then dash home so I could play it over and over and over again. I also have to agree with Geoff that it is still a perfect piece of pop.

How many of us can still remember the first record we bought (for ourselves)?

PS. Just to prove it, here is a photo of that record being played on my trusty Pioneer PL-15R turntable.

Happy Birthday LBC Radio

December 1974: That's me driving the desk in Control Room 2 - the producer was Philip Bacon (Photo: Martin Stevens)

LBC, Britain's first 'legal' commercial radio station began broadcasting 35 years ago today - Monday 8th October 1973 at 6.00am.

My radio career began 9 months later - Monday 1st July 1974 - as a studio operator/sound technician at LBC. I stayed there - eventually becoming a producer and, then, spending 8 years as 'Head of Production' - until December 1987, and even after more than 20 years later I still have a soft sport for my radio 'alma mater'

I do find it hard to believe, though, that it was 25 years since Charlie Rose (LBC's archivist for many years) and I produced the 10th anniversary programme - much of which was used five years ago for the station's 30th.

This was the station's original weekday line-up:

0600 The Morning Show - David Jessell
0900 Two In The Morning - Paul Callan & Janet Street-Porter
1200 Open Line - Phil Jay
1400 At Home - with Steve Merike & Bel Mooney or Gillian Strickland
1630 The Afternoon Show - with Clive Roslin
1930 Feedback - with John Torode (not the chef of the same name!)
2200 Nightline - with Stewart Francis or Dennis Rookard (yes - an 8-hour show!)

After a few weeks, Dennis Rookard took over the lunchtime phone-in - replaced on weekend Nightline by Adrian Love - and Phil Jay moved to weekends.

I'm currently in the process of writing a book (publication tba), which will include many stories from my time at LBC - inept management, industrial disputes taking the station off-air for hours, or even days/weeks, at a time, alcoholic staff, the member of senior management who used to keep baby piranha fish in his office, the newsreader who valiantly continued to read a bulletin while a Page 3 girl was stripping off in front of him, the station’s investment in heavy construction plant, the local sales team members with their own ‘back-pocket’ business sidelines, the presenter who was sent home with five minutes to go before his programme because he was too drunk to go on-air…

(In my office at LBC in the mid-1980s - the door behind led to the production studio)

A memento of my time with LBC - my own station jacket (for wearing on Outside Broadcasts etc.). It still fits, by the way!