Don't Touch That Dial!
On tonight’s broadcast I will mostly be presenting on my feet. That’s the advice given to me by a BBC radio consultant. He feels it may liven up my style, and he may be right. It works for Chris Moyles and I have memories of Hugo Duncan, bolt upright in Studio 8 Belfast, rocking his compact frame to ‘Horse It Into Ya, Cynthia’.
I’ve never had a face-to-face critique of my radio programme before, so it was a very interesting moment. A charming fella from London called Matt had flown over to meet with myself, Rigsy and some of the Radio Ulster crew. I guess the understanding was that we could all improve our game, and I was certainly under no illusions about my style.
I think there are two kinds of radio presenters – the personalities and the music fans. I would fit into the latter category. I just like to play the best tunes, and to impart some information between plays. I wouldn’t consciously try to be John Peel, but he’s certainly an influential model. The danger, Matt pointed out, is that you merely copy the legend, and sound like a bad tribute act.
We listened back to a couple of my shows. Without the music to support them, the links sounded terribly vulnerable. Like most presenters, I have some stock phrases that I use when I need a few seconds to think. These became glaring obvious when examined in this way. There’s also a deadpan tone that creeps in. It’s pure Peel, and again I blush when I hear it.
On the plus side, there are moments of genuine rapture when I’m loving a song and explaining this feeling to my listeners. This is what people tend to pick up on my show. They hear something and then they buy it, and mostly they’re grateful for the service.
Matt wanted to know about my audience. I said that they’re essentially chilling out after a long week. Maybe they’re doing the dishes or they’ve just put the kids to bed. People I meet say that while Stu is playing the tunes, they might uncork a bottle of wine, take a bath or roll an aromatic cigarette. I told my coach that I had a composite picture in my head of all those things. But Matt said that I should keep the image of one person in my mind as I spoke.
So that’s it sorted then. Tonight, I’ll be thinking especially of you.
Stu Bailie presents The Late show on Radio Ulster, every Friday from 10pm until midnight. See his playlist here.