Not 39 Forever: No.13 - A good face for radio

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Funny how as life evolves you can benchmark it in a number of ways, like the radio station you listen to. I was fresh out of school and already an obnoxious yoof who could be found in the Underground/Maximes/Pier most weekends listening to dance music and trying to make my tenner stretch in whatever means possible. My Sunday night routine involved going to a mate’s house for a smoke and taping the radio. You know audio cassettes and that. I’ve still got the tapes somewhere but every weekend I used to tape Signal Radio on a Sunday night from 10pm to 1am. New Dawn it was called, presented by some young, gurning larakins and no doubt it catered for the Shelleys masses and the naughty forty of Stoke. Only went the once and second only to the Quad in the shadiness stakes.
Then I discovered Sunset Radio, based in Manchester. This Sunday night was hosting the 808 State show at a similar time and I used to go to a mate’s in Hindley purely because I couldn’t get a decent reception on my hi-fi in WN6. The Stoke one was very faint and ropey and I spent endless hours messing with the aerial to get the best Signal from Signal, all for the sake of some tunes to listen to whilst driving to work. There was no other way to do it back then, trust me.

A few years earlier my station of choice had been Red Rose Radio, which is still going (I think?) and the incomparable Allan Beswick complete with phone in. Back in the day when your methods of instant communication were limited to a fixed line box with a dial and a receiver on the end, Beswick’s late night show was the stuff of legends. I can do it no more justice than this Sabotage Times article about him but essentially to a 13 year old it was basically a competition to try and say “fuck” live on radio before you got cut off. This was crude but there were subtler moments “Howdo Russell” [rustling noise on other end of the phone] “Howdo Hoover” [caller turns Hoover on] Probably sounds a bit shit that now but it was hilarious to a schoolkid and when Beswick went, the even surlier James Whale failed to do it justice.

Funnily enough I’ve come full circle and listen to Beswick at Breakfast right now on Radio Manchester, my station of choice mainly for traffic news, a bit of sports coverage, localish news and general current affairs. Me car aerial broke off a while ago so I can’t pick up AM so was forced to ditch Talksport or Five Live, and don’t I miss it? Well, very occasionally….

In between I’ve had spells of Radio One to Six and all the way back down again and who could forget that thrill of getting your first digital radio and all those new channels to flick through? Jazz FM and whatever it was called when it was a proper Soul station (Where are you Sean Livesey??) or even Century for the Legends phone in. Similarly, when at home original Mudhuts admin Johnny Lowe gave me a link to an Internet radio station called Shonky I always had on. I remember driving a van at Gus and having Atlantic 252 on permanently and had serious spells of listening to Galaxy (spawned from Sunset and now under the banner of Capital FM) and of course XFM – which I still do tune into but it’s not a patch on the Oldham based Revolution which fell by the wayside a few years back and genuinely did cover Indie music outside of a playlist.

Where do WISH FM fit in all this? From a novelty at first to essential listening thanks to the infectious nature of current Liverpool PR man and one time Latics legend Matt McCann. You’d tolerate endless shite music for hours purely for the excitable tones of Leicester fan McCann reading the news and sport and clearly he came into his element on matchdays providing the giddiest match commentary this side of Rio de Janeiro as we ducked 2-1 at somewhere like Peterborough. Nearly every Latics fan got to know Matt and those who didn’t felt like they did and it sounds daft but a radio commentator really did become as much of a star as the players he reported on as we climbed the leagues. It was also a novelty as just like now when I turn on GMR and Oldham are away at Stevenage they just have some Cockney doing the updates i.e. the local station rather than a regular, passionate reporter….

So I’m back fiddling with my knob and on GMR listening with fascination to the local news and sport (thankfully I get in work before nine so rarely have to listen to the cranky old folk on some of the daytime phone ins). Indeed I’ve even been known to participate in the Monday night phone in with Jimmy Wagg. I can write, just about do radio but would shit myself if television ever saw fit to articulate the views of a Wigan Athletic fanzine editor but I like talking about the club because twenty years ago, nobody wanted to know us. It’s only the older listeners call in though now, the youngsters just tweet, text and Facebook so I’m left to wonder whether conversation is a dying art….and turn over to Radio Three for some classical inspiration…..



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