Life on air: The ups and downs of working in radio

Radio is your basic job for madmen

LAST UPDATED: 30 Oct, 2016 @ 15:30
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Giles Brown
Giles Brown

AS you may or may not be aware, I have another job as a radio presenter.

Radio is your basic job for madmen, as you spend two hours or more talking to yourself and playing music in a darkened room, haunted by the sneaking suspicion that there could be nobody out there listening.

Mind you, if there is one thing worse than people not ringing in, it’s people ringing in. I don’t have the luxury – as many of the UK national stations do – of a seven-second delay.

The delay means that should a caller say something rude, offensive or a combination of the two, the presenter has time to cut off the caller and insert a jingle – most famously in Birmingham when, in a classic piece of live radio, and angry caller was silenced thus
“Why don’t you take that microphone and stick it right up your …. BRMB RADIO”.

The general rule of thumb for radio call-ins seems to be that anyone who wants to call in shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near the radio but it does lead to some high octane broadcasting moments, as you are never sure what’s going to happen next.

Saturday evening shows tend to attract the more, ahem, over-refreshed caller, who is normally working his way through his second carton of vino collapso somewhere in the campo and wants to hear either Judas Priest or Ozzy.

Friday afternoons are also interesting as this tends to be the time that some poor South American call centre worker unwittingly gets handed the direct studio number and goes into the standard sales patter about changing phone provider. Nothing pleases my dark and twisted soul more than letting them try and sell me the latest mobile tariff, before letting them know that they are on live radio.

Mind you, some of the guests can be equally entertaining. There was the lady who brought her own coffee in a zip flask. Halfway through the interview she unzipped it and the sound was picked up by the microphones. The phones went mad as everyone rang to ask whether my guest had really disrobed on air!

And then there was the Canadian custom bike builder who let rip with two Prxxks, a couple of Basxxxds and other assorted language in the first 60s seconds before I could get over my shock, hit the advert button and give him a yellow card.

But the best recent call was from an anti-immigration campaigner. “These immigrants” he ranted “They come over to places like Birmingham, get on benefits and bring over their family and their elk.”

He meant ilk. But the studio collapsed in laughter at the image of herds of Canadian moose wandering around Spaghetti Junction.



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