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Radio Hero: Mike Riddoch

RiddochMany years ago Radio Clyde cut their afternoon drive show in half. There had been a lot of footering with that part of the schedule and every new iteration was more wrong than the first, so I had no love for the new ‘Clydewide Tonight’ show. From memory it ran from 5.45pm to 7pm and was initially fronted by other Clyde DJs. This led to me hearing Dave Marshall twice in the same day. Something that worked in the morning never quite clicked later on for me.

Then a Scot from BRMB passed through. Dave Jamieson was a revelation – as slick and tight as you please. I found a cassette of him talking up the intro of Ace Frehely’s “Back in the New York Groove” that not only took care of the post but also included meaningful content – not a regular occurrence in those days.

But Dave moved on and the programme settled into a looser shift that eventually became the drive time show – fronted by Mike Riddoch. Not as slick as Dave and with a voice that crackled out of my cheap radio rather than jumped. But what a personality.

Mike got away the music with aplomb, but had real skill getting around the speech elements that filled ILR shows in those days. Just by listening to him I learned that a music show can work on more than one level, with clever treats that regular listeners grow to love. The helicopter effects and regular remark that “that’s management knocking off for the day” sticks in my mind 30 years on.

I remember Mike hosting a Sunday evening arts programme on the station too. Here he sounded animated and knowledgable but with a foot in the present-day and keen to contextualise the content for the general listener.

It was the mixing of clever with straightforward that really made Mike’s shows work and when he inevitably turned up on Breakfast he kept it up for years. In 80s radio it was a treat to hear clever humour that didn’t depend on phone starters or surveys – it was the work of a quiet man with something to say.

It’s no secret that the late 90s were a difficult time for Mike with him leaving Clyde and then spending some time at both Qfm and Scot FM. If was a slog to track him down, convince him that he still ‘had it’ and get him back in the studio where he belonged. But after a few false starts he did just that and the powers-that-be at Clyde did the right thing and invited him home.

Back on Breakfast at Clyde 2 he Mike still sounds great. In some ways the act sounds a little old fashioned than before as he doesn’t talk for hours on end and relies on neat & tidy interactions to raise a smile. But he’s sharp, funny and slick. I have industry friends who spent their whole career listening to him in the morning.

It all comes to an end tomorrow at 10am when he closes the mic on his tenure at the Clyde 2 Breakfast show. Changes in the group mean that the local morning shows are being replaced by a new show from Monday. There’s been some controversy about the change – and there wouldn’t have been if Mike wasn’t such a morning radio legend in Scotland. He’s a great presenter and a class act. Hours spent listening to him taught me a lot about how to put a show together.

I’m hoping that he finds a new radio home. The Culture Show at Radio Scotland would be a good home for his talents as a reviewer or contributor. And imagine Riddy working with a producer to create great radio at PQ.

There’s a lot of mileage in Riddy yet – and that’s why he’s one of my radio heroes.

(You may be interested in this post about Forth’s Bob Malcolm)

Author: johnco

Born in 1963, been involved in radio since 1977.

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