New for old media…

Quick and short, down and dirty observation from me on the US election coverage as I sit here watching and listening. At time of writing no results are in.

Firstly, hands up. I’m a news junkie and I’ve mentioned before in a previous blog post that The Daily from the New York Times is one of my must listen podcasts. I’ve listened to it from the very start, and Michael Barbaro has developed into a trusted source and host.

They have continued to cover the election in the run up in interesting ways- in the midst of a pandemic and one ravaging the US and breaking records as it does almost daily. The regular episodes of “The Field”, a subset of episodes which first showed up in the US Midterms, has returned and criss-crossed America giving a fascinating background to the story of the campaigns.

Election Day 2020 was interesting from a media perspective. I said in my previous blog on podcasting, that it was RADIO- and the very best podcasts used the skills of the best radio output to produce great podcasts. On Election Day 2020 in the US, the New York Times cemented that thought.

The first LIVE four hour broadcast from “The Daily” team live from New York- not just using the radio skills, but actually doing live radio. I listened and it was very well produced, no gaps, no fluffs, no mistakes. Polished radio output from a newspaper, but admittedly one which has spent a lot of time and money in the recent years building up its audio offering and digital footprint. “The Daily” live was available on the NYT website, and via the app and they were sensible in ensuring that it remains streaming when you leave the app- on my iPhone it did anyway, can’t say for Android. It sounded like radio, looked like radio, worked like radio.

So what of radio?

“You give us 22 minutes we’ll give you the world”

1010WINS New York, who coined that famous phrase back in the day, did radio and their Twitter feed was fairly usual and what you might have expected but with a lot of video which was pretty well done.

Here in the UK LBC, (from my former employer), went full video, live streaming on the app, website, YouTube and Twitter feed. Polished and professional TV stream with flash graphics.

All told- well played from all that I consumed if I’m honest, but I find it interesting that Newspapers did Radio, and Radio did TV.

A little life update…

It’s two months since I was made redundant from a place I’d been for over 33 years (I’m going to call it an “album” of work as I’d been there for 33 and a ⅓ years- #VinylLivesOn)

Firstly apologies if this blog post is a little self indulgent, but I also find it a bit cathartic at times to write stuff down… and you are cheaper then therapy. LOL.

The last couple of months have been filled with a fair bit of “life admin” it has to be said. Not all of it is complete yet but a lot of water is under the bridge at least.

I don’t have a full time job and right now I’m fine with that- I’m actually really enjoying the time and the ability to get involved in a few things where I want. I’m incredibly thankful for those who have reached out and for those who have offered a few bit of project work which I’m enjoying greatly. I’m also thankful for the time and conversations I’ve had regarding future work and projects- all of which is very exciting and if some come to fruition will be just amazing. You know who you are and thank you for the Costa coffees and the brilliant chats and the zoom calls!

Most of all I’m thankful for family and friends. They have been supportive and helpful every step of the way and I honestly would have spun out without them being the calm, sensible, levelling influence right at the time it was needed.

I’ve realised something about my former work self too… I was institutionalised. It’s natural, as the lens through which I saw everything was the view from where I sat- totally understandable. It’s was just a practical situation which at the time I wasn’t fully aware of and I don’t think you can fully be cognisant of after being there for so long, until you leave.

This blog, this website and the bits around it is the new lens. I’m open for business and up for project work and adding some value and perspective where I can make a difference. Click on the CV page and see if there is anything there that might interest you and reach out via the links at the top or bottom of the page.

Here are some of things I could help you with:

  • Coaching talent on performance. Remote or in person.
  • Analysis of markets and performance.
  • Leading training sessions- remote or in person.
  • Editorial advice and guidance.
  • Bespoke presentations or sessions.

Click the links and get in touch and let’s start having fun.

I’ll get back to more practical and useful blog posts- thanks for accepting the digression- what is your hourly rate?

Five things successful newcomers do.

Over my career in radio I have helped a fair few people into the industry. As you might have gleaned from my first blog post, there are many similarities to the state of play today to when I first began- even though the world and technology has changed completely. For the whole of my career it has always been the case that there are fewer positions in radio than the number of people who want them.

There are a few things which all successful newcomers do to get in, and then succeed in the industry. These are the five they all tend to do… Roll the countdown!

Understand that people buy people first. Before I buy (or hire) any of what you are selling (or skills you display), its natural for your personality and demeanour to do the talking. How you might fit in a team, or how you get along with people or any boss or co-worker. It doesn’t mean you have to be a “yes man or woman”, just that there is a symbiosis of sorts.

Strike a balance between being keen and being a gnat. Its very important to be “on the radar” particularly when you are trying to be considered for any prospective positions. Constantly buzzing around though can be annoying and bothersome- like a gnat or fly. Striking a balance between reminding people who need to know, that you exist and are available enough- and leaving them alone. I’ve advised a few people over time to ask themselves a simple question – are they not getting back to you because they don’t know you exist or is it because they don’t have anything for you? If its the latter, constant pestering isn’t going to help the former much.

Know when and how to ask questions. Asking questions is really important. After all, you don’t know what you don’t know- so ask. It is often said by people (usually after a presentation of some sort) “there is no thing as a dumb question”. This is often said by people who don’t actually mean it and actually think there IS such a thing as a dumb question and they are seeing if you want to ask a clever one. My belief is there is genuinely very few dumb questions, especially if you set a context first…. “Sorry if this seems silly to ask but…”, “Sorry if I’m missing something I was just wondering…”. It very hard to criticise someone for asking when the context is like that. Knowing when and where to ask questions is also good to work out- in front of others or one on one? Got a few questions to ask all at once? Then maybe again set a context… “I’ve got a few questions to ask, all basic and simple. Is there a good time to run through them all?”

Think about the next step before you get there. The best are thinking about what comes next after this- I don’t mean philosophically- more practically speaking. I always found it surprising and helpful when someone guessed what might be needed and already made a start or did some prep. For example, having a demo ready with your work and ensuring its updated with the latest material before anyone asked for it.

Don’t send a demo unsolicited. I’ve said this hundreds of times in sessions I’ve held with student radio and others- don’t send your demo to someone unsolicited. The job of sending a demo is….? The first answer has to be “GET A REPLY”. Until you get that, nothing else matters or will follow. If you send a demo unsolicited the person receiving it has no obligation to listen or reply. That doesn’t mean they won’t but why risk it? Bearing in mind that you want to create a conversation and back and forth anyway, instead send an email with a brief explanation of who you are and demonstrating something of yourself and asking if you can send a demo. You are likely to get a reply saying “Yes of course!”- and you have started the conversation. The person receiving the email also now has some kind of mild obligation to reply and listen. If you don’t get a reply from your initial email, you are no worse off than you would have been if you had sent something unsolicited anyway!

Its not an exhaustive list and many might add other items into it, but I think these five are quite key. Good luck if you are trying to get into radio- once you get there its worth it!

And that’s radio too…

We need a new term. We need a new word- but also we don’t. The one we have works fine- we just need to update what it means a bit.

Radio is called radio based on the delivery mechanism- radio waves. It’s not the most efficient terminology to describe the art and science of radio output generation- which is what we generally come to mean when we refer to utilising “radio skills”. When we say someone is good on the radio, we are not referring to their ability to generate electromagnetic radio waveforms we are referring to their ability to create listenable content after all. It seems a fairly academic point until you evolve the medium over a few decades and you have more traditional radio broadcasting and along side that, podcasting. Where does radio end and something else begin?

I’m a bit torn if I’m honest. I think, rather like having protected status for Hierbas Ibicencas on the island of Ibiza (throwback on former blog post), meaning it can’t be called that unless its actually made there, I kind of want the term RADIO to be kept clean for use when talking about, well, actual radio.

At the same time I also think that we need to evolve it and include the use and evolution of radio skills- after all the very best podcasts utilise all the skills that good radio broadcasting does… its radio without the traditional broadcast spectrum usage. If we don’t update, then could radio die away or lose its relevance?

It’s possible to have two thoughts at the same time and, like I said, I’m torn.

The best podcasts I’ve heard utilise the same skills that the very best radio practitioners use when doing what they do. The production values in the best podcasts and the actual audio production, are the same as producing a bit of radio output. The opposite is also true- the worst bits of podcasts are the same as the worst bits of radio output and the bad habits are the same- the turn off points are the same. If it isn’t radio, then it sure smells like it. Don’t set up what you are talking about, introduce it effectively and simply and you have lost me. If you assume knowledge and that I’ve heard something earlier or even from a different podcast – you have lost me. Go on too long on one particular bit without making it easy to consume and you have lost me. It’s all radio production.

Frequently reset what you are talking about and who you are talking to, and you can engage me. Break up items with use of audio, music at the right point to create thinking time, punctuation and flow markers- all the kinds of things that happen inside radio studios and are just as important in podcasts.

If you make me focus on the delivery, then I can’t focus on the content as well as I might. If I’m distracted by something about the delivery of what you are saying- a bit of distortion perhaps or bad mic technique or noises off mic, then I’m going to lose focus on what you are actually saying. Just like on the radio.

There are other similarities – I can consume podcasts whilst doing something else, I’m using audio and the listeners emotions and senses rather than pictures or video. So much of the passion or the trigger points from radio are also true in podcasting.

The volume of competition is huge though- I mean there are a lot of radio stations around the world but there are A LOT of podcasts!

One final point.

I’ve noted something about my own podcast listening. I used to subscribe to a fair few and I’ve noticed that the frequency of listening for some has dropped and I’ve unsubscribed from some too. I’ll not mention the specific ones by name, but the reasons why I’ve just not “felt it”, when it came to the option to listen are interesting and relate to the above.

One podcast I really liked had two people on it. One of them I really liked and was quite amusing and controversial which I found fun. Interestingly, the other person sort of got in the way a bit too much, added a level of clutter that wasn’t needed and the overall length was a tad on the long side but not enough to drive me away. Then they increased the frequency of the podcasts and that tipped me over the edge- it all became too much to keep up and I unsubscribed when the barriers to listening became too high.

Another podcast I subscribe to, (and still do) increased the number of episodes to 7 days a week and I’ve found I delete the weekend ones and continue on the same delivery frequency as before.

I’ve done the same thing with radio before now. We have a “thing” which works and seems successful so lets have MORE of it and people will love it more- or thats what we think. What normally happens is that people get fed up of it quicker, or they liked it because of all the reasons it existed before and giving them excessive amounts is like serving someone several plates of their favourite food because its their favourite and expecting them to eat it all every time. Gluttony of audio. Killed the golden goose.

Regular Podcasts to which I still subscribe worthy of note:

  • The Daily – The New York Times. The production values, the story telling and the length all work.
  • Sway– Kara Swisher- The New York Times. I was “swayed” by an ad within the Daily for this. I used to listen to Pivot and Recode Decode with Kara Swisher. This production is cleaner I think, stays on point and so far I’m enjoying.
  • Ear Hustle – Radiotopia. Life in California’s San Quentin prison in the US. Great production and story telling from Nigel Poor (who sounds like Sarah Koenig from Serial to my ear) and Earlonne Woods.

Radio, it’s always been radio…

My social media biogs have always had the phrase, ‘Radio, it’s always been radio…” as a description line. If you have read my first blog on my site, then you will know that radio has been in my blood for quite some time- in fact I think I was 14 when the interest first sparked in me.

This blog post is a basic script of a session I presented remotely when asked to talk to newbies to radio about its power and potency. I’ve tweaked it slightly and taken a few bits out for brevity. If you are in a position where you might like me to deliver some kind of talk, training or remote learning on something similar, click the contact methods above or below or send me an email right HERE.

Where does the power of radio come from?

According to the most recent Rajar conducted with active fieldwork (Rajar- the measurement system for how many people listen to the radio in the UK. Active field work was suspended following the first quarter release due to Covid-19, so these numbers are from W1 2020- survey ending 29th March 2020, Rajar/Ipsos MORI/ RSMB), 89% of the UK population listen to radio, any radio, in any given week. The UK has a population of over 66 million people- although Rajar is based on Adults 15+ and so the population base is just over 55 million (55,032,000). In any week on average forty eight million eight hundred and ninety four thousand people listen to the radio- 48,894,000! Just to give that large number some kind of general perspective, there are just over nine million people living in London, so that over 5 times the size of London. A reminder that the number is the number of people who listen PER WEEK… so over 5 times the size of London every week listening to the radio.

“Gavin & Stacey” was the most watched TV show in 2019 with 17.9 million viewers just at the end of the year, beating out “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” – the opening episode of the show was the second biggest show on TV all year. It had 13 million viewers, 400k more than the third placed entry which was “Strictly Come Dancing”. 17.9 million- that’s just over a third of the WEEKLY audience of Radio.

Of the 48.9 million people who listen to radio each week, 36.2 million people listen to Commercial Radio. So looking at the previous comparisons, Commercial Radio alone is twice the size of the biggest TV show from 2019 and the number of people who listen to Commercial Radio each WEEK is the population of London four times over. In the same Rajar survey Wave 1 2020 by the way, All BBC Radio reaches 33.5 million listeners per week.

How is the medium from the 1890’s not only still relevant, but so powerful circa 130 years later?

It’s not as simple as just communication- a Tweet, and email or a text is communication too. It’s not just about entertainment, or debate, or information or education- although it is also absolutely about all of those things and more besides. I can get the music I like, tailored for me from a clever algorithm that keeps getting smarter, on an app from my phone, my watch or my smart speaker. It learns what I like and adjusts accordingly all the time the more I choose what to listen to. The first MP3 player appeared in 1998- the MPMan. I’ve been able to carry around my collection of music since the late 90’s when those portable players appeared so it’s not the primary reason for Radio to be so powerful, or 20+ years later 48.9 million people wouldn’t be listening to it per week. That said, music is a very big part of radio too of course.

The cassette, the CD, the iPod, the iPhone didn’t kill radio and neither did video – lazy newspaper type reference whenever they mention radio (Buggles 1979)

Radio has a history of provoking change- and creating impact. In October 1938 Orson Welles broadcast “The War Of The Worlds” on US Radio. A radio drama that converted the book into a series of news broadcasts and made Americans actually believe that aliens had invaded New Jersey and terrified thousands. Those were simpler times maybe and in 1938 mass media was in it’s infancy and people were not exposed to the levels of interaction we have today. That said, today here and now in the Broadcast Advertising Code– the rule book on all radio advertising in the UK, section 2.2 it states:

“If used in an advertisement, an expression or sound effect associated with news bulletins or public service announcements (for example, “news flash”) needs special care. The audience should quickly recognise the message as an advertisement.”

Broadcast Advertising Code

Thus is the power of radio. We make people believe. You said it on the radio so it must be true.

Its portable, emotional, relatable, personal and trustworthy. According to a European Broadcasting Union study across Europe, with the veracity of what people read and see online and the rise of “fake news“, Radio is the most trusted medium. Fifty seven percent of EU citizens as a whole trust radio, (TV is 49%). Radio is the most trusted medium in 24 of 33 countries including the UK. (Full EBU report)

Radio delivers one to one communication- its talking to YOU and only you. There might be 48.9 million people listening in any week but radio talks to them all just one-at-a-time. Listeners to radio perceive it is just the presenter talking to them, whereas with TV the viewer knows that there are camera operators, directors, producers, floor managers and others in the pipeline… TV is a many to many medium. Radio is small, personal, intimate but also huge, powerful and very impactful.

It can talk to you with your eyes shut- try that with television, or newspapers… or online? It can talk to you whilst your eyes are reading your kindle, the newspaper, a webpage, or your socials, it’s still there. While you drive, while you eat, while you sleep and when you wake.

Radio is a mass medium that you can consume whilst doing something else. You can’t even touch your phone whilst driving as it’s not safe, but you can listen to the radio.

Radio builds brands, creates habits, becomes part of the fabric of people’s lives. People know where they are on their commute and if they are late for work by what time a presenter does a feature- or even goes to an adbreak or news. People create their own natural benchmarks. Radio’s heart beats to the rhythm of the daily life of people.

We have some of the best professionals in the trade of radio. Radio is one of the best mediums in the world with the ability to influence, change and motivate the listener in a way that few other forms of media can do. Radio can rouse emotion, passion and harness that with a personal touch and has a vast audience that places trust in it.

Radio is both relevant and massive. Mass market, yet totally personal communication with built-in emotion.

Don’t blame it on the sunshine…

No-one is one dimensional. Radio and media has been my life since before leaving school, but it isn’t all that I am or care about. That would be very dull.

If all I blogged about was radio and media, whilst that might be very interesting for some, it would be a very one dimensional view of me. Don’t get me wrong, I have done that before and some readers of this may remember I had a fairly successful blog a few years ago now with posts on radio and media and there is nothing wrong with doing that- many I read now and are excellent.

Occasionally though its good to open a different box, look in a different drawer or out of another window. Radio and media is my passion but I have a few other things which interest me too.

Anyone who has met me in the last 17 or 18 years will probably have heard me at some point talk about holidays. One destination in particular… IBIZA.

Golden hour at Cafe Del Mar

I think it was 2003 or 2002 when we first went as a family and the love affair began. I have spoken about it so much and been there so much that people think I have a property out there- I wish!

We were due to go again this year, but of course Covid ended that as a plan and so roll on 2021.

I’ve been trying to analyse what it is about Ibiza that captures the imagination and that I love so much. I know many people have the same issue- what is the magic and special thing about that island in particular that makes it so different from the other Balearic destinations? Right from the moment you get off the plane, it just feels different from the others. The air, the vibe, the expectation, the light and the mood.

When we first visited we stayed in S’Argamassa– which is just outside Es Cana and not all that far from the Hippy Market (although we didn’t know that at the time). Its on the other side of the island from San Antonio which we visited to watch the sunset of course. Somewhere I have a photo taken by a Cafe Del Mar photographer of us actually sitting on the rocks outside. Today I wouldn’t recommend sitting on those rocks without some form of heavy duty sanitisation afterwards. Times change. If you visit, then make sure you go to the slightly more authentic Hippy Market, or enchanting Night Market at Las Dalias at Sant Carles De Peralta.

Las Dalias Night Market in Summer

We have stayed in Ibiza Town and more recently in San Antonio, having been drawn to the sunset and the vibe on the rocks outside Mambo and Cafe Del Mar. Cala Comte is also a pull if you ever fancy a really magical view of the sunset in a chilled setting.

I’ve only ever done one 3 week holiday in my life and that was in Ibiza- it rained for the last week and so might as well have been 2 weeks in the end! I also managed to put petrol into a diesel rental car too, after helping out a confused German tourist at a petrol pump and distracting myself in the process. That was the also the moment when I learned that the word “incompetent” is pretty similar in Spanish… “incompetente”.

In the last month or so, since having more time, and since our holiday was cancelled, I have indulged my love of Ibiza in a few ways, which you might also find interesting if you feel the same.

The Cafe Del Mar webcam is a daily visit. I used to look a few times before lockdown too, but just getting a live snapshot of that view, and if you time it right, the sunset, makes it worth every visit.

There are a couple of Vlogs which I have followed too which paint an interesting picture of the island and life during lockdown and beyond. Dwayne Muffin on YouTube and Instagram posts regular vlogs from around the island and occasionally interviews with passing people of interest- Judge Jules and Norman Cook to name but two worth of a view. I have not met nor do I know Dwayne and found his vlogs as a result of the YouTube algorithm serving up his work and I’m glad it did. Give them a watch and subscribe if you you long to be on the White Isle right now!

More recently that same algorithm took me to M&T and their daily vlogs “Moving To Ibiza” and subsequently their podcast and vlog of their podcast. I have watched a LOT of these and its a fascinating and honest look at what it is like to move to Ibiza and get your life sorted. They are brave, funny and engaging and very much worthy of a view and a subscribe. Again, I don’t know Matt and Tiff (hence M&T) at all- although I thought I recognised them but don’t think we have ever met. Probably I feel like I know them from watching their material to be honest- which shows how good it is. In another life perhaps I would have done what they are doing or certainly would have wanted to. I probably still want to actually!

One last thing, drink like an Ibizan (18+). When we first went to the island I kept seeing a drink in bars and shops- Hierbas Ibicencas. Its made only on Ibiza and is a liqueur made from herbs and botanicals which grow around the island (“hierbas” being Spanish for herbs)- in fact it has protected geographical status meaning if you want to call your drink Hierbas Ibicencas then it HAS to be made in Ibiza. Over ice, at the end of the day or meal it is a perfect nightcap should you be in the mood. I tend to drink it like I would a bourbon or a whiskey but there are many drink recipes. It has been described as being slightly aniseed but not like an Ouzo. It can also be quite sweet too. A “Seco” variety is less sweet I’ve found but there are many varieties and secret recipes sold all over the island as well as the more commercial ones. Below is my current collection at home- withered slightly as I was anticipating a summer refresh this year. I’ve been known on summers when I’ve not been going to Ibiza (there have actually been some) to have asked my good mate Andrew Wilson, when we worked together, to bring me back a bottle – actually even after we worked together we arranged a rendevous for a drop off!

If you love Ibiza and the magical pull of Es Vedra or just want to sample the drink, then I hope the links and info are interesting. If you have never been, then put it on your list- I doubt you will only go just the once. You don’t need to be a clubber or want to dance- the island has so much more to offer besides that… but it does do that really, really well too!

The next thing…

OK so what comes next then after a third of a century doing a variety of roles and jobs at the same place? [See previous post].

It’s not something which is easy to fathom at the best of times, but in the grips of a pandemic and with a shrinking economy and radio industry, its even harder.

I spent a some time thinking about what I like doing, what I wanted to do, and what I needed to do.

I like and enjoy coaching talent, getting the best out of their work, and delivering the best performance. Helping them to realise their potential. I also enjoy training and presenting to a group or online audience- utilising my knowledge and experience to pass on to others and offer some value.

I want to combine both of those things more- coaching & teaching. To nurture, develop and bring out the best in talent that they can achieve.

In reality there isn’t a hard and fast single “next” option for me right now. I’m open to anything which excites me, utilises my skill set and interests me. You can click here to see my CV and click here to open up an email to me if you think I can help in some way.

A change of season

After working at essentially the same place (companies bought and merged etc) for a third of a century, I was made redundant at the end of August 2020. This was for all intents and purposes, my first job after leaving school. I was very lucky. I have been very lucky for my whole career. I worked in a job which many would consider being a paid hobby, doing what I love and being paid for it. That said, the end of that season of work made me stop and take a view. It was something that I’ve not really done before, probably not really had the time or the inclination to sit and navel gaze. It is only when the days spread out and unread email count reduces to zero that you can then spend some real meaningful time considering not just what you are going to do next- more on that in another post maybe, but also just what exactly you have done up to now. Taking stock was something I thought might be interesting.

A now famous post from Dan O’Day came to mind- Dan is a very well known US radio and communication consultant and someone I’ve met now a few times over the years. For the basics and nuts and bolts of radio Dan has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge and probably an audio example of it too. The post from Dan, he himself says is, “the most popular thing I have ever written” is here. It came to mind when I was taking stock of all that I’d done in the various roles I had held up to September 2020. Much of what Dan mentions rang a bell, and matched what I had experienced during my career so far. Dan’s post is elegantly written and whilst it was in my mind when I was taking stock, I didn’t want to lift or copy either here and that’s not the purpose of this post, or my taking stock of where I have been.

To begin at the beginning. Well, actually the real beginning was playing with a Bush radio at home and spending hours up and down the dial, then building a studio in my bedroom and doing “shows” to a speaker in the kitchen, but fast forward a little. I began in hospital radio in my home city whilst I was still at school. I remember well the very first time I visited Radio Link in the City Hospital in Derby (neither of those exist today!)- I said almost nothing for the entire visit. I arrived around teatime and found the studio under Ward 2 of the hospital where the person I had contacted, the late Keith Hook, was editing an interview he had recorded with someone on a Brennan reel to reel tape deck. The station was not on the air at the time as it started broadcasting at 7pm each evening and so this was the “prep” time. Little did I know then that this would be the first step in a journey that I would be taking for the next 40 years! Truth is I almost didn’t go back a second time. I was nervous and shy- hence not saying much but because of that I was also very nearly not invited back either. It was also two bus rides, or an hour walk from home each way- or later in my time there it was a 30 min bike ride each way in the rain.

This, though, was the start of me satisfying my thirst for radio. I stayed at Radio Link for about 9 years, becoming Head of Programmes and doing a Breakfast Show- which was a first at the time as the station only broadcast in the evening and weekends- despite the bike ride at 4am!

That was where it all began. Thats where the roots were first planted.

Having sent demos and been rejected from a lot of stations I finally joined Radio Trent doing my first show on my birthday at the end of December 1986. 

This isn’t a history or a story of my career, its a stock take, so what did I do?

During my time I did breakfast to my home town, did overnights in a haunted building (great when the lift moves at 3am and you know the building is empty), filled in for everyone on the schedule (except the classical, rock and arts shows- yes those things existed), carted commercials, wrote out PRS forms, carried records to the studio in a shopping basket (still don’t know where I got that from), did an album chart show, broadcast live from LA, went to New Orleans twice and San Diego once, drove around a lot- to Harlow, Wrexham, Gloucester, Birmingham and everywhere in between, to Bristol and Swindon lots, flew to Glasgow lots, stood in Cardiff Castle in the rain. Trained new people (lots), coached older experienced people, found new talent, created presentations (lots), magic Excels, experienced 132 ratings releases- Jicrar and Rajar. Did hundreds of OBs, stood on a lot of stages, started a lot of events, cut a few ribbons, sharpened a lot of chinagraph pencils and cleaned a lot of tape heads. I’ve also made a lot of friends and learnt everything from them.

I made a lot of mistakes. Embarrassing mistakes at times, like the first album chart show I did when CDs were just coming into use and so I took in my own CD player to play something from a CD for the first time. I forgot to pull out the transport bolt which locked the laser in place when you moved the unit, so live on air pressing play… silence! In the same show, partly down the the CD incident, I mis-timed it and left only 1 minute for the number 1. Every chart I’ve ever done since that day was timed out to the second with pie charts and nothing taken for granted. Lesson learnt.

Everything I’ve done over the last few years has helped to form a view on things which happen today. Lessons learned from previous experience and used to formulate a plan of how to address the issue in front of me today.

I’ve said that I have been lucky and I really believe that to be true. I’ve also said to many people over the years that this should be fun. The chances of working where I worked, doing what I’ve done are remote. It has always been hard to get a job in my industry, and so it just has to be fun when you get there.

Stock taken. Onto the next thing…