Getting Back Into Radio
Although most of my freelance work is to do with website content and blogging, being self-employed gives me an opportunity to dabble once again in what, up until the end of 2013, had been my main job – radio. In fact, this weekend saw my first show on a new (to me) station for four-and-a-half years (not to mention my professional AM debut); on Pulse 2 in West Yorkshire.
My Radio Career
I started my professional radio career in 2000 (yikes), at an internet radio station called NetFM. Looking back, I think everyone involved would admit that basing an online project like that, before the days of widespread home broadband, on the most expensive street for businesses in Islington might be seen as a case of ‘overstretching’ rather. Still, it allowed me to live in London, work with some fantastically talented people and try out a whole load of ideas without the worry of many listeners actually hearing when they failed.
When that inevitably went bust, I moved to a student radio sustaining service where I met my wife, before working my way onto proper FM radio at Viking FM in Hull. From there, I moved to Kerrang! Radio in Birmingham, 2BR in East Lancashire, and back to Viking FM.
During my second stint at Viking I presented the breakfast show, which was a huge deal for me. I love the creativity involved in hosting the flagship show. It’s hard work, but hearing that graft come off in a piece of radio that engages listeners and causes quality interaction is extremely satisfying. I was also broadcasting to my home town of Scunthorpe, which made it even more special and led to me hosting matches at Scunthorpe United.
Unfortunately, two weeks after my first child was born I was told my contract was not being renewed (for no good reason, but I’ve discussed that at length elsewhere), and that was the end of my full-time radio career.
Radio Work Since Viking
Thankfully, I have been able to stay involved in the medium. I’ve presented Sunday mornings regularly on Pulse 1 since then, which I have thoroughly enjoyed, but I was a little disillusioned with the industry in general for a number of years. With an extra mouth to feed I needed a day job and, unable to find a full-time radio gig (not to mention being a little wary of the prospect), I embarked on a new career writing online content.
I was lucky to find something else that I love and that pays the bills. The content work is certainly my priority now I’ve quit the 9 to 5 and headed out on my own, but I’m also really looking forward to taking on more radio work, such as Saturday’s Pulse 2 show. I got to play West End Girls next to Sweet Caroline, who wouldn’t love doing that?
Me on the Radio
This is my current radio demo:
Radio Shows I Love
I still love listening to radio, and here are some of my favourite shows:
The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show – Absolute Radio
Christian O’Connell is a master of his trade, seemingly effortless in his ability to connect with an audience and make them laugh and cry, and everything in-between. I’m sure it’s not effortless at all, but that’s the beauty of great radio; you don’t see the hamsters furiously spinning the wheels behind the scenes.
It’s not just Christian either, the whole team were an inspiration for me when I was looking into how we promoted our on-air ‘characters’ on shows that I have been involved in. I don’t want to know whether Richie, his pompous yet hapless co-presenter, is really anything like his radio persona in real life. Well, I kind of do, but I know it would ruin the magic if I actually found out.
The plotting of major features and the storytelling are top notch too. However, you don’t have long to catch him, as Christian is off to work in Australia in the next few months.
Radcliffe and Maconie – BBC 6Music
Mark Radcliffe is my absolute radio hero. His passion for the music, sense of humour and pitch-perfect downbeat delivery were a real inspiration for me as I sat glued to his late-night Radio 1 shows in the mid-90s. Stuart Maconie is very similar in style and it really works as a double act, despite the received wisdom being that the two on-air characters should be as noticeably different as possible to create a spark. Yes, it’s essentially two middle-aged fellas chatting about music, but that’s EXACTLY what I want to hear of an afternoon.
I wrote about this show in a blog about podcasts, but I think that crafted audio entertainment is still ‘radio’ whether it is distributed digitally or on FM. In addition, 99% Invisible released this stunning live episode about the power of radio and, if you love the medium, you HAVE to make time to listen to this: