It’s a Friday night and unlike most teenage lads my age, I’m not sipping white lightening, hassling wildlife down the park. Instead, I’m sat next to my phone, waiting for a call back from a radio station. Yes, I am one of those people.
By this point I’m a seasoned pro! I’ve even made some ‘fans’ (I use the term very liberally). At the time I wasn’t fully aware of how unusual my hobby was, to be honest, I didn’t see anything wrong with it. Although my parents weren’t fully aware of how involved I became with the shows, I think they were more than happy to allow me to explore a creative avenue. They knew I wasn’t like the other kids at school, so I might as well do something different with my time.
There comes a point, as we’re growing up, that the real world shows up. Like an annoying friend of a friend at a party that you’re too polite to stop talking to, so you’re stuck with him for the night. Unfortunately, this bastard sticks with you for the rest of your life. Radio gave me the ability to hide in the toilet for a couple of hours, waiting for him to leave, I’ve come to realise that he never leaves… ever. But, you get better at dealing with him.
It meant that I spent a large part of my teenage life playing a role – the annoying teenage boy (not too difficult to perform, let me assure you). I was willing to call up a couple of shows and contribute my ideas, or just add some nonsense. At a time in my life when I could have felt very insignificant I felt important and special.
I became someone people laughed at, or with. To me, it didn’t matter which. My mate’s aunt even knew who I was because they listened the show – I was famous!
Thinking about my short-lived stardom (if I can call it that) it’s clear I relished the anonymity. It allowed me to not only be myself, but also try out being whoever else I could imagine. I think having that option as a teenager is incredible, you don’t have to be stuck being the person you are at school or around your parents.
Talk radio’s a mixed bag, there’s the fancy china on one side with Radio4 and on the other, is one of those plastic freezable cups you got on your 18th birthday with Talksport. You can’t deny that talk radio’s popular, LBC’s pretty much doubled its listening figures over the last decade (albeit they’ve gone national on DAB) and Radio4 is one of the most listened to stations in the country. Sadly, I’m not one of the millions of avid listeners any more, and it’s sad to think that part of my life is long gone. I do look back and cringe at how involved I was, but ultimately, I’m proud to say – I was a radio call in freak and it made me who I am today!