Radiowaves Special Feature: The Radio 4U Story

THE RADIO 4U STORY


Chapter Twelve


According to tradition every DJ introduced another potential talent, and John introduced Frances, his sister.
Radio 4U’s mixture of different sounds was full of strange accents:
John and Frances were American,
JP tried to sound American,
my accent was hard to recognise (people guessed everything from South African to Mancunian accent);
Ciaron and Michael sounded like well-educated Derry men but nobody represented the Donegal farmer accent which you could hear on Radio North, DCR or NWCR.

Coming back to Frances – she was the perfect lady disc jockey: nice voice and, unlike her brother, great musical knowledge. Frances was a broadcaster who could handle every situation on the radio…well, almost. Even though she was sometimes in charge of the news, she never left a great impression there. She was hopeless at pronouncing foreign names and cities.

“Sorry Frances, where is Port’s Mouth?”

But, then again, I must admit that we (the lads) gave her a hard time on some occasions. It is certainly not easy to keep a straight face during serious world news when five lads take the mickey in the studio.


I reckon that more than fifty people passed through the Radio 4U talent selection system, but only eight of them were women. Generally speaking I think that these female jocks had more potential than their male counterparts but I think that the majority of women are too shy to dare to make excursions into radioland.

Well, the news was Marie’s job, you could try every dirty trick in the book with her and she kept a straight face, she was a newscaster and while she was on the air everything came second to her news.

On the other hand, Frances was not a newscaster but a broadcaster. She loved the music and enjoyed her little bits of useless DJ waffle, be it cooking recipes in the late morning, book reviews in the afternoon, or the smoochy hours late at night.

Frances gave Radio 4U the needed female touch.

Not long after she joined she moved into the upstairs room in the cottage. Radio 4U now had a resident assistant station manager.

In all fairness to everybody else, and there is a very long list of people who were essential to Radio 4U’s survival, I doubt very much that the station would have lasted as long as it did without Frances.

Only six other female voices were ever heard on Radio 4U:

  • A local lass Nuala, and her friend Teresa who was on holiday from England. did a few night shows in early August 1987.
  • Marie’s friend Janet assisted her on occasions and on August 16th she hosted an afternoon phone-in with her friend.
  • Finally JP’s mother gave it a try for a couple of weeks and Frances persuaded her Ma to host some evening programmes.

I reckon that more than fifty people passed through the Radio 4U talent selection system, but only eight of them were women. Generally speaking I think that these female jocks had more potential than their male counterparts but I think that the majority of women are too shy to dare to make excursions into radioland.

JP, John, JJ and Frances certainly did their part to promote Radio 4U at the Derry Polytechnic.

A few weeks later we recruited a whole team of students: namely Badger, Kivi, James and their friends. Later on they were also joined by Dutchie. Well, those were their commonly known nicknames and obviously they used those names on the air too.

All of them stayed with the station right until April 1988. Their music choice was not quite to my taste but a selection from Booker T. & The MGs and the Doors through to modern Indie Rock was certainly a welcome contrast to the usual Family MOR. As they were scheduled on Saturdays I gave them as much freedom as possible, within reason of course, and with all the well-known requirements of the Radio 4U Policy Guidelines. If I had to ask them to sit in during the week I could rest assured that they would curb the Rock input. I believe in supporting talent by non-interference.