:: Stephanie Hazeldine
How did your time at Radio Sheffield begin?
I started as a reporter at around the time of the miners strike in 1984. I'd been working at BBC Radio Manchester shortly after completing my post-graduate Diploma in Radio and Television Journalism when someone rang from Radio Sheffield asking for available freelancers. They gave my name and so my 'career' in South Yorkshire was launched!
I worked reporting on items for the Breakfast show, was sent out on a wide range of stories from the launch of the new breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers to the lighter stuff. I remember doing a live Radio Car piece from the house of someone who'd found a six foot long python in their toilet!
I didn't start working solely for Radio Sheffield until I was given the job of presenting the mid-morning programme with the maestro himself, Rony Robinson, in 1994 - the best job ever!
Since leaving Radio Sheffield what else have you done?
From 1997 I worked as a newsreader and producer covering a cluster of stations based in Nottingham. I did some presentation work too until I got my own tea time show at Radio Stoke in 1999. I was diagnosed with cancer at the start of 2001 and haven't worked since. I spend my time these days swimming to keep as fit as possible, sitting in the garden and tending my beautiful brood of five cats!
"I doubled up over the sink imagining the headlines, 'Radio Sheffield Presenter Dies On Air'. Thing is I don't think anyone noticed!"
Proudest moment at Radio Sheffield?
I made a documentary about the barbaric and illegal practice of badger baiting in South Yorkshire and North Nottinghamshire. Dogs are pitted against these protected wild animals and bets are laid on the outcome. I never witnessed any of these highly secretive fights but spoke to people who had a window on this shadowy world, as well as people who were working to protect badgers from abuse. The BBC Programme Review Board said my programme had shown the best and worse of humankind.
Really, I was proud of managing to broadcast at all as I was always a bit scared of the microphone. That's why presenting with Rony was so important to me. I think without the chance to work alongside such a supportive and encouraging chap as he, I would never have had the courage to present at all!
Other good/ funny memories?
Not all of the memorable stuff happened on-air. I remember when Radio Sheffield invited some 'Ghostbusters' in to the old station building on Westbourne Road. One member of staff (who shall remain nameless) was a particular sceptic when it came to ghosts... but the look on her face when the infamous 'grey lady' brushed passed her in a doorway at reception!
What was your worst on-air (or off) moment?
I nearly choked to death during one of our regular Friday visits to Sheffield College for our live cooking spot. They'd just started a scheme where students would try their hand at cooking and serving their food to paying members of the public. To launch the event a special plate of 'noisette' of lamb was to be presented for Rony and me to tuck into. Trouble was the lamb was running late and when it finally arrived very near the end of the programme it was barely cooked. I scoffed it with alacrity and the dainty morsel just large enough to block the epiglottis got stuck there and I couldn't breathe - not a good thing for a broadcaster! I bowed out leaving Rony to fill while I doubled up over the sink preparing to meet my maker - imagining the headlines, "Radio Sheffield Presenter Dies On Air". Thing is I don't think anyone noticed! But I really did think I was breathing my last!
Who was your favourite presenter?
I'm going to be naughty and have two favourites. Rony for his ability to burst into a studio with seconds to go, sheaf of newspapers in one hand and a pork pie in the other, and still deliver some of the most memorable radio the people of Sheffield could ever hope to hear. His output is prolific and infused with local knowledge garnered over many years of thoughtful broadcasting. He truly has the measure of his audience. He has his finger on the pulse of the area - he might not be a monarchist but he's still the jewel in Radio Sheffield's crown.
Tony Capstick was another star. His gentle wit and charm made the microphone disappear. As a listener you felt like he knew you - less like he was on the radio more like he was sat on your knee! Him, a pile of records and his stories, that's all he needed to put on a 'reet good show'. "Me? I'm thick as couchon merde", he'd say. Swearing on the radio in French and getting away with it... that's how clever he was.
Looking back now, how would you sum up your Radio Sheffield experience?
Hard work and great fun, and now being that bit older I realise what a privilege it was to work there, so thank you to all the brilliant people I met along the way and to the listeners, the backbone of any radio station.