Radio Ga Ga

In July 1992 I was driving past Vian Way on the Uppingham Road in Corby heading for Kettering when my radio suddenly re-tuned itself to a local station. Like most people my car tuner was set to the usual and predictable settings of radio’s 1, 2, 3 and 4, with a couple spare for some of the more obscure, even foreign channels. To that point I don’t think I’d ever consciously listened to any local stations with my listening prejudice firmly fixed on a preconceived notion that anything local was just one step up from the amateur hobbyist output from the world of hospital radio. At first it wasn’t obvious which station this was, but I do remember enjoying the music. Then I heard a presenter using words like ‘Corby’, ‘Kettering’, and ‘Wellingborough’. What was this? The only local radio D.J. that I’d ever been aware of was an old mate of mine from Corby, the late great Dougie King, but apart from that it didn’t really mean much to me. Since childhood it was radio that had held a fascination for me with only the best and elite few allowed to utter anything into a microphone. It never occurred to me that there were people on my ‘doorstep’ presenting live radio shows day in, day out and on local radio all over the country. This was a door that I needed to knock and the more I listened to this quirky little station called KCBC the more I realised that a childhood dream really might, just possibly come true. One has to remember that a D.J. that one might come across at a wedding reception or birthday party will rarely make a competent radio presenter. I’ve met only a handful over the years, including the aforementioned Mr. King, but these are more the exception than the rule. Bringing ‘dancehall-D.J- banter’ to the airwaves, bluntly, doesn’t work. I decided to write a letter to the managing director of KCBC expressing my interest in radio and simply asking if I might be allowed to ‘look around’ the station. On Thursday 13th August 1992 I received a letter which, with the miracle of hindsight and without exaggeration, was to change my life forever.

It was dated 11th August and signed by managing director Lester Cowling. “I’m grateful for your interest in us. Possibly you could give me a phone call so that we could have a chat”. To cut a long story short I found to my surprise that I had discovered my ‘spiritual’ home that was to serve me well for almost the next 20 years. Since then I’ve met them all, from ‘Smashie and Nicey’ and ‘Alan Partridge’ to those-who-pose with their dyed black hair and shades. I’ve met the genuinly tallented to the down right inept. I’ve even managed to survive the bullies, of which there are sadly many, most of whom hold or have held senior positions. Like any skill it genuinely takes years of commitment, low-or-no wages, hours of work that would make Oliver Twist wince, and the progressive development of a skin as thick as the average Rhino. Yet, despite all of that, I wouldn’t change a single thing.

At KCBC in 1992. My first job in radio

“Remember Richard….this IS show business!”


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