One of the best things about the show I did was that the listeners were often making tunes that ended up getting played out.
The bulk of those tunes were remixes or bootlegs (two or more songs mashed together). I had run a website called GYBO (Get Your Bootleg On) from 2001 where amateur music producers showed off tracks that they’d constructed themselves. A few years later, there were over 16,000 members on the site and some of the tunes had topped the charts around the world.
Having control over content meant that these tunes and producers regularly made up a lot of the show. Every week, there was a special 20 minute mix. Sometimes it would be a band, artist or DJ in the charts who did the mix. Sometimes it was just some fella with a laptop who’d mashed some stuff into a pleasurable mix. It was beautiful having such a showcase where bedroom producers could rub shoulders on-air with signed, commercial artists.
Doing it for the first time
Ali Campbell presented a show on a Sunday, Ali’s Sunday Joint, which featured a lot about outdoor sports and extreme activities. Ali was a naturally likeable, very witty and relaxed chap who was perfectly suited for the show. He covered a lot of stuff which is usually the remit of a visual medium but, against the odds, it worked a treat.
Part of Ali’s show was a feature where they followed someone who was trying something for the first time. I was approached and asked if there was something within this world of outdoor activities that I’d like to do that I hadn’t done before. Reticence overwhelmed me. I was not the sports type and did not relish the idea of snowboarding, snorkelling or extreme ironing. And yet something did jump into my mind.
“I’ve never flown a plane before”.
Two weeks later, I was in a small two man Cessna at Cumbernauld airport getting a flying lesson. That was a bit of magic. I didn’t get opportunities like that at the day job.
The Talking Bits
One of my least favourite parts of the job was the listen back. The listen back was when you had to periodically listen to one of your own shows with your producer and analyse it. I hated listening to my own voice. Who would enjoy having a live segment poured over in critical tones? I was delighted with the choice of tunes, the mixes and suchlike. I just never liked the bits where I talked, which is fine because, as I said at start of all of this I didn’t want to do the talking bits.
I don’t know if I ever got better at it, but I did eventually feel more at ease with talking on air. The press releases and a bit of homework was all it took to have something to talk about. It was much more difficult for the daytime presenters to generate spoken content because people didn’t tune in to listen to us night time DJs talk. People expected some kind of patter and entertainment between records during the day. I perceived the people listening to my show as preferring it when I shut up, which suited me just fine.
The most interaction I ever had was when I did a live, 3-hour show on Christmas Eve. I’d drawn together Christmas related tunes from everywhere I could that did not include the ones that are played to death in the shops. DJs from all over the world, via the internet, sent me Christmas related tunes. It was truly unlike any other radio show that you would have been able to find broadcasting on the night before Christmas. It probably did turn a lot of people off, but the listeners who remained texted in with their appreciation.
It was a touching, honest show and probably my personal high point at the station.