It seems weird to write about Paul, knowing he won’t read it. For those that don’t know, Paul sadly passed away in his sleep on Thursday 16th Feb 2023. He was 69 years old.
I mused over whether I would write this post, but there seemed to be a strange connection, since Paul was always one of the first to ‘like’ any post from my blog whenever I posted it. I knew when I published, and saw a little red dot on the phone icon, that it would be Paul. Before starting this blog, I used to post a few years ago on blogspot, and Paul too would be generous with his likes.
It wasn’t until walking into Jury’s Inn in Oxford in November of 2020 that I met Paul in person for the first time. I was doing some work for Jack Media on the pre-launch of Union Jack Dance and Union Jack Rock and we were having a project meeting in person for the first time. Paul, as was his want, was gracious and complimentary about me working with the team.
When I joined the group for real in January 2021, Paul was in command of the music and the “splits”. One single breakfast show, carried on 3 Oxford services but playing their own music. Paul made it all work and was critical to the plan to replicate it across all 6 services eventually.
Paul and I got on really well and he had some of the best stories of his time at LBC, Blue Danube, Music Choice, BRMB, Capital and Magic. We knew at lot of the same people and so shared stories fervently back and forth- it was great fun. We were working remotely most of the time and I had set up a “virtual tea break” every day at 11 on Teams. Just a chance to chat about “stuff” not work related and Paul was the most frequent participant- along with Charlie, his adopted cat who would interrupt any call by walking across the camera or keyboard at any point. We discussed his house move to the Cotswolds and “the stump”- a sawn off tree trunk at the end of his new garden which doubled as a great sunshine lunch spot.
I have fond memories of a four hour meeting in the boardroom with Paul, going through music databases and pretty much agreeing on choices and categories, making changes as we went and losing track of time in the end and realising it was getting dark outside.
After the demise of the Union Jack services, Paul kept in touch and only a fortnight before his passing, after a regular back and forth of messages on WhatsApp, he called and we chatted on FaceTime for the best part of an hour about Rajar, Ofcom, friends and colleagues, including an appearance of Charlie (of course) and the usual camera issue meaning I was talking to his lunch for a few minutes!
I wrote a blog post about The People when it all ended at Jack a year ago and wrote the following about Paul at the time:
“Paul Easton. Paul I had known of for many years but not actually worked together. I’d read his blogs and he had read mine in years previous, but we actually never met until our first meeting in Jury’s Inn in Oxford in late 2020. Paul’s knowledge is huge and his calm, reasoned manner is delightful. He is a gentleman. We worked closely together on music and scheduling and Paul and I saw eye to eye. Sometimes if I had a thought about something, a song or a suggestion I would be cautious if Paul would agree, but in reality we were in lock step and he would be thinking the same thing. Paul said some nice things to me privately for which I thank him greatly and he deserves huge respect for his legacy in the history of UK radio, but also for the knowledge and skills that he has and still demonstrates to this day.”
It seems odd for all of this to be in the past tense now but Paul was a gentle, knowledgeable, friendly, welcoming person. He knew his onions, but didn’t rub it in your face and supported the initiatives or changes taking place. He had stories for everything and his passion and energy for radio were evident from the first meeting. He knew how things had changed from his days “at the coal face” and wasn’t resistant to the evolution of processes- which was great when you were trying to change things as his gravitas really helped. If you are new to the medium, or in the early stages of your career, find someone like Paul and be a sponge to soak up as much knowledge and insight as you can, while you can, because as is proved here, you never know when it might be sadly taken away.
I will miss our WhatsApp chats, occasional calls and discussions about Charlie Cat and the Stump. Rest easy my friend. Radio and media is a poorer place without your insight and wise counsel.
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