A very lengthy blog post all about me: Part2

Wow! You’re back for more!?
Yesterday’s blog post
unexpectedly turned into a lengthy insert from my biography. I haven’t actually written a biography but if I did I’d probably donate the proceeds to Tony Blaire. Just in case he finds himself strapped for cash. If you didn’t read
”Yesterday’s blog post,
then it might be a good idea to do that first. It will update you on where we are in the epic story, or (more likely) will inform your choice to quickly close your internet browser and never visit this site again. It was in essence a very lengthy blog post all about me. And now here’s part two. If you do decide to read this post (in spite of your better judgement) then take heart in some words I accidentally found on a blog post from another person called David Eagle. I was searching for my last blog post on Google to see if it was showing up in the search results, but instead of my post at number one I found another David Eagle’s blog post which included the following apposite words:

“I firmly believe that a human being can endure any torture, however grim, if he only knows that there is an end.”

So bare with this post. You can get through it. There is an end. Thanks to
”those wise words from a much more wise and informed David Eagle
for those encouraging words.

Anyway, I digress. Fancy that!

After my setbacks last time with the various hospital radio stations, I decided to take a different approach. This time I wouldn’t tell them I was blind on the phone or in a letter. I would simply turn up with my cane to the studio and take it from there. This approach seemed to work much better.

The first radio station I visited was a local community radio station. I won’t name the radio station because I am about to be not too complimentary about them. The manager listened to my demo and seemed to love it. I thought he might have been getting where I was coming from. He said he definitely wanted me to present on the station. I was thinking that everything was going great. He’d heard the demo and so knew my style. The demo contained snippets of song parodies, spoof adverts, sketches and a few links that were far removed from the generic “this is, that was” format of modern day local commercial radio stations. I took the attitude that if I was going to work in radio, and try and achieve this against the obstacle of my blindness and the discrimination I’d witnessed so far, then I was going to make radio that I thought was really interesting and worthwhile. Otherwise there was no point. If I wasn’t different or better than the average local commercial radio presenter then why should an employer choose me above someone else, especially if that someone else can see and therefore won’t be an extra hassle?

The station manager seemed really enthusiastic and asked me to come in to the studio the following week to go through a few things. Little did I know that these “few things” would make me so disillusioned with a lot of radio, especially local commercial radio.

The following week I turned up at the studio. The manager greeted me and took me into a room and introduced me to another two men. One of the men was a trainee on his first day, and the other was a presenter at the station. In just one hour from walking into that room I would have my enthusiasm for radio presenting crushed. Bare in mind I had wanted to work in radio since I was really young. I had heard broadcasters like
”Kenny Everett’
and
”Chris Moyles
and wanted to try and create something exciting. But the manager of this station had a very different idea.

First we were introduced to a handbook, which the manager called “the radio station’s bible”. He then proceeded to read us some commandments for presenters. For some unfathomable reason, I don’t seem to be able to recall these commandments verbatim. I will however paraphrase.
“1. Presenter links should last no longer than two minutes.”
I interrupted the station manager before he moved on to the second commandment. I informed him that I was already recording my own folk music podcast with my folk group
”The Young’uns
and that we interviewed lots of great folk music performers. I explained that I was planning to incorporate some of this into programmes. I also explained that some of my written material might go over the two minute mark. Plus, all the radio presenters I respected did links that were over two minutes in length. I expected him to instantly capitulate and say that this would be fine, and that these were just rough guidelines for trainee presenters. My optimism soon faded when he told me in no uncertain terms that people didn’t turn on their radios to hear the presenter but to listen to music. Besides, no one wanted to listen to folk music. I would be given a list of songs to play each programme, and I would have to stick to that list rigidly. He then proceeded to quickly move on to the second commandment.

One of the Other commandments stated that the presenter must never call the songs “tracks”. I never did understand his logic for that one. Apparently it didn’t sound right to call a song a track. We must call it a song, although we were allowed to call it a record, even though the songs were digital files on a computer disc drive. He also qualified his reasoning by saying, “it just makes for better radio”. I began to wonder how many Sony radio awards amazingly talented presenters had missed out on simply because they accidentally used the word “track” rather than “song”. If only they’d read the radio station bible.

Another commandment stated that the presenter should start each link by saying what the last track – sorry song – was, then give the listener the time. Apparently giving the listener the time was of vital importance. I’d lost the will to even protest now, and I sat there becoming more and more deflated as he expounded on all the various reasons why time checks were essential. To illustrate this point, he imagined a number of scenarios where someone might be listening to the radio, dependant on knowing the time.

“imagine if you were late for work because the presenter didn’t tell you the time, or if you forgot to pick the children up from school because you didn’t realise what the time was. Imagine if you needed to buy some milk for the morning but because the presenter didn’t tell you the time you can’t because the shop is closed”. Each fictional scenario was delivered as if each situation was a horrifying thought, and was proceeded by a pause to increase the drama. He was also pounding the table rhythmically as he spoke, and everyone knows that when someone does that, then they really are talking the truth. It’s just one of those facts. I didn’t have it in me to remark that if people were so obsessed with the time then they would probably wear a watch, and even if I did say that, he’d probably come back at me with something remarkably insightful like, “yes but what if the watch broke?” And how could anyone come back with an answer to that?

I did however raise a protest about one of the commandments which stated that every hour must be marked by weather and traffic/travel bulletins. The week before, the manager and I had decided that I would record the programmes at home in advance. I was already doing a bit of small-scale voice over and production work at this point and had my own studio. Weather and traffic bulletins were a reasonable thing to include into a live broadcast, but surely the manager would see that they were pointless on a radio show that was pre-recorded and broadcast after 7 P.M.. What he said astounded me. Rather than saying I could simply drop the weather and traffic reports he told me that I should just make them up. He would provide me with some scripts of weather and travel bulletins that had been used in other programmes and I was instructed to just read one of those every hour. He also recommended that I should make up listener’s text messages and read them out.

The meeting continued with the manager and presenter giving us a five minute demonstration of the perfect radio show, which conformed entirely to the commandments as set out by the Radio Station’s Bible. It was the most uninspiring, generic load of drivel. The manager concluded the meeting by announcing triumphantly: “And that’s radio!”

My relationship with that station didn’t really develop any further. I also then found them to be just as reticent about taking on a blind person as all the other stations and so it wouldn’t have worked, even if I wasn’t totally disillusioned about everything they stood for.

Interestingly, the radio station in question have been sanctioned a number of times by
”Ofcom
for faking competition winners, and asking people to text and phone into pre-recorded shows. Seriously, what’s wrong with Ofcom? don’t they realise, “that’s radio!”

So another day on, and I still haven’t told you about why I left
”Southside.

The story will continue tomorrow. Don’t worry. Take courage in those words from David Eagle,
”the real David Eagle:

“I firmly believe that a human being can endure any torture, however grim, if he only knows that there is an end.”

Then again, he’s probably never read one of my blog posts.

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