I was born in 1963. That’s the year the pirate stations started broadcasting from just outside territorial waters, but in the town of Grangemouth in central Scotland there was no such challenge. Life was pretty simple. Mum was a teacher, keen to help my dad be anything other than a bricklayer. The music in our house was mostly light classical and the radio was pretty rigidly tuned (by the time I would understand what these things were) to Radio 4.
We were ahead of the times as ours was a home that had a ‘stereo’ and we listened on FM. There was also a Bush radio in the house. Probably my earliest memory of the radio was Listen With Mother.
“Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin”.
I believed that the voice was speaking directly to me from inside that box.
The general theme inside of our rapidly growing house was ‘improvement’. Thus contemporary pop music was mostly frowned upon. Top Of The Pops on a Thursday evening (after Tomorrow’s World) was accompanied by a running commentary from my parents that boiled down to “There’s no tune in this”, “He looks like a girl” and “She could do with a right wash”.
Most importantly of all, we didn’t have radios of our own. What media we consumed was enjoyed in the living room at 2 Mountbatten Street.
I got to hear bits of Radio 1 at school or at my friend’s house. It’s hard to believe now that I thought Tony Blackburn, Noel Edmonds and Paul Burnett were slightly subversive guilty pleasures, but I did! I started to become obsessed with the Top 30 chart reveal on Tuesday lunchtimes and can picture listening to the countdown in the playground. It was only a matter of time before I got my first radio.
It was red AM only ‘tranny’. It changed everything.
Within months I listened to almost all of Radio 1, I had discovered Radio Luxembourg at it’s peak and become hooked on a faint signal that I thought came from America – AFN Europe. In addition to music shows that station brought me into close contact with one of my other great loves – American Football.
I was 10.
This little box gave me the freedom to listen to anything, anywhere.
Then local radio appeared on the horizon.
Barely into my second decade I knew I had to be part of this.