Tuesday, 8 August 2017

My Top ∞ Radio Songs #14: My First Boss - No Static At All


My first boss may have damaged me for life, by leading me to have unrealistic expectations of what bosses should be like. He was a human being for a start, humorous and generous, and although from time to time he did have to lay the law down, you always felt like he didn't want to have to do it. Almost like it pained him to do so. He was encouraging and supportive and helped me quickly progress from volunteering to an actual paid job. He virtually found a job for me where there wasn't one and gave me opportunities to develop my skills in all areas of the business... although looking back, I could have made more of those opportunities.

He wore a suit which was slightly too big for him and had huge square spectacles which made him very easy to cartoon. He had an unusual voice for radio which was often mimicked by the staff (myself included) but he indulged us. He wore bright red, patent leather boots, and if anyone ever asked him about them, he replied...

"The suit says 'management'... the shoes say ROCK 'n' ROLL!"

On occasion, I would co-present shows with him. I did this with a variety of jocks during my first few years: we'll get onto that. He played it mostly straight, I went for the sarcastic retorts. (Yes, I was Sidekick Simon.) He used to make out that he thought I was going to take a joke too far, get worried, fade me out in case I said something I shouldn't. I'd play up to that. An example: one time, I was complaining on air about another driver who'd cut me up on the way to work. I made out like I was going to read out the guy's registration number on air. The boss feigned panic and started the next record. It was a good routine.

I remember one time I was co-presenting a late show with him and he'd come up with a suitably banal phone-in competition called 'What's In My Brain'. It was very Partridge, long before Partridge was a thing, but knowingly so. He gave cryptic clues and people had to call in and guess what he was thinking about. The prizes were shit. A key-ring, a CD you'd never heard of from the chuck-out box, a car sticker. The switchboard glowed red hot. People liked that sort of thing back then. It was cheesy, but it was real. Nothing slick. The only clue I remember was something about 'Is there gas in my car?' I didn't get it myself at the time. Neither did many of the listeners. Kid Charlemagne hadn't even been a hit... 15 years earlier. Was it even a single in the UK? Somebody guessed it pretty quick though and we moved on to the next question.

14. Steely Dan - FM (No Static At All) 

When I started in radio, FM was still quite a big deal. A lot of people still called it VHF, and a lot of listeners still tuned in on Medium Wave (A.M.). But that would change very quickly. FM was taking over and radio was changing with it... 

I've never seen the movie FM, which Steely Dan wrote this track for. I'd like to, because it sounds right up my street: a bunch of rebel DJs fighting the sales people who want to turn radio commercial. Just like Rex Bob Lowenstein who started this series off. It's a theme I will return to again and again and again...
Worry the bottle Mamma, it's grapefruit wine
Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time
The girls don't seem to care what's on
As long as it plays till dawn
Nothin' but blues and Elvis
And somebody else's favorite song...

5 comments:

  1. Great stuff Rol and a great boss by the sound of things. A rare commodity

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  2. Yes, the boss sounds great! Love the thought of those red patent boots. I bet he wore rock'n'roll socks too. And pants.
    Do you have any tapes of the shows you were on?

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  3. I do remember my parents always calling it VHF - Had forgotten about that.

    Your boss does sound as if he was exactly how bosses should be - Sadly a rare commodity nowadays.

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  4. Really enjoying this series Rol.
    (I keep asking Rol about the possibility of audio evidence C, but so far none has been forthcoming!)

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  5. In the attic. On cassette. Haven't listened to them since they were recorded. Terrified to now. Don't even have a cassette player anymore...

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