Sunday, 2 May 2010

A Week In Radio

I have long had something of a love of radio, for which I blame John Peel and his nightly role in my musical education. My first ever taste of using the format was when I was in school - we had a hospital radio thingy going and I now have only the vaguest memories of producing a wholly unlistenable and totally unsuitable three-hour show on The Stranglers which was intended to broadcast over the hospital's own private radio station. This was not something, I now realise, that the sick people of Barnet needed to listen to. I do rather hope, I suspect I will be rewarded in that hope, that it never aired.

Many, many years later I wandered into Dubai Radio's studios, the wood-rimmed hexagonal tables with their cloth coverings and the odd-shaped acoustically treated walls, together with the long angle-poise arms of the microphone stands told you that yes, you were in a real radio studio. Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch were broadcasting. Sitting in the control room watching a balding man talking animatedly to himself in a padded green cell, I realised there wasn't actually a funky bunch at all. But it all seemed rather fun and, well, magical. Incidentally, watching Simon 'Catboy' Smedley and Steff 'GeordieBird' at work over at Dubai 92 is a lesson in slick professionalism - and the fact his stuff sounds spontaneous and unplanned is the result of a great deal of work behind the scenes. I sometimes like to wander in and watch the two of them at work.

Another gap of years and I found myself co-hosting The Editors on Dubai Eye radio, Dubai's talk radio station, with Tim Burrowes, now globally famed as Australian uber-marketing-blog mUmbrella. (Or is it MuMbrella? Can never remember!) Tim was kind enough to invite a PR guy to share his weekly show (he was the editor of Campaign Middle East, for wot I used to write a column) and we had quite a lot of quality laughs in the short time before we were pulled off-air. This was thanks to an increasingly acrimonious dispute between Tim and a certain person in upper management at the media company behind the station who objected to Tim's habit of correctly identifying spades and calling them as such.

I learned a lot of things from that stint. That you really want radio personality Sticky Fingers 'panelling' for you when it hits the fan (panelling is doing all the knobs and sliders and other scary stuff), that 'dead air' is an awful thing (you try interviewing someone with absolutely nothing to say as you watch the hands tick away to the next break in 12 interminable minutes' time) and that the red 'Mic On' light Is Your Best Friend.

I once worked on a three day outside broadcast (OB, luvvy) with Ajman Channel 4FM DJ Jonathon Miles. Miles was a hyper-active lunatic with severe ADD and a brilliant nose for great radio whose continued brushes with authority here eventually led to his being given that famous choice for Those Who Transgress - Window or Aisle? Miles was an abslolute nightmare, potty-mouthed off-air he was a frenetic whirlwind of caprice and scandal - and it was all we could do to keep him vaguely on-topic (clients were paying for it, after all). Boy, could he swear - and watching him realise that his mic was on during one outburst then finding it wasn't actually, swearing in relief and then thinking he'd hit the fader too soon and so on as he descended into a bundle of gibbering, jangling nerves was quite remarkable. I do miss him. Rule One in Gulf radio? Never Swear On Air.

Since then I've done quite a few 'spots', mainly as a guest talking about communications and social media stuff with Dubai Eye's highly successful Business Breakfast programme but more recently have survived a number of spots standing in for either Jessica Swann or co-host Robert Weston on the morning news magazine programme, Dubai Today. That's now becoming a regular weekly slot every Tuesday where I'll be co-hosting with La Swann and tending to follow an Internet & online media slant to the show, which now will air from 10am-12noon, Dubai time.

The bad news for those who have been finding it increasingly difficult to avoid me is that it's available as a streamed feed over da Internet - you can listen in by clicking on this link.

We'll see if I still preserve that love of radio in a few weeks' time!
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Keefieboy said...

Oh, I do miss Jonathon Miles - I'm amazed he lasted as long as he did. And congratulations on your new show.

EmiratesMac said...

Mabrook on the regular spot. I never saw myself being on radio and doing it live is a challenge for sure and I only do one hour a week ;-)

the real nick said...

I agree with you on Catboy - good man. The rest is shite.

I mean, excepting you of course and the many, many interesting things you have to say about twitter.

Dave said...

I have heard you on Dubai Today a number of times - well done!

Jess said...

"save the best till last" - La Swann

Anemone said...

I managed to catch your spot with Jessica one time and I thought you did well and had lots of interesting things to say. Hope to hear more of you on the radio...

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