Radiowaves Special Feature: The Radio 4U Story


Chapter Seven

It was during the second week of running Radio 4U that I showed the first signs of depression and exhaustion, doing 17 hours of programmes on my own. Two new recruits started as DJs, the only jocks I ever had with radio experience prior to Radio 4U. Even though I was glad, at last, to have some relief, these two lads got on my nerves immensely, only for me to have to sit down and listen to their ROTs: the typical bad pirate habits of announcing every song, actually making up the release date of the record, giving 20,000 time checks, telling the audience that they are listening to the best station and most of all, wishing the housewives a ‘Good Morning’ 13 times during a one hour programme. Let alone the fact that they were operating under false names.

Back to the policy drawing board:-
Only announce songs if they are not well-known, do not bore listeners with information which they are bound to know anyway.
Do not announce time checks at any other time than early mornings, because this puts unnecessary pressure on the listener. Time checks make the listener either nervous if expecting some appointment or bores him if he listens to the wireless to pass time. In either case you might lose his / her attention.
Also, do not direct greetings to a specific group of listeners as this makes other listeners feel unwelcome.
Lastly, don’t tell fibs. If, for example, you don’t know the precise release date of a record then just don’t announce it, because if you tell tales somebody out in radioland will prove you wrong and you’ll not only lose your own authority but make a laughing stock of the whole station.
All in all, don’t tell your audience that you are the best, just be the best by what you are.
As far as names are concerned, I think this is a personal matter and I left it up to the jocks to decide what they wanted to be called, but it was customary just to use the real christian name on air.

Obviously, old pirates with those usual habits were no good for Radio 4U and in future I tried to steer clear of big headed oldtimers who know everything better than everyone else.

All in all, don’t tell your audience that you are the best, just be the best by what you are.

I think it was the 10th or 11th of June at approx. 2.30pm when a young lad came up to the station with his mother. Actually, he was quite lucky to catch me as I had just put on a tape to nip out for a while. His name was Michael and he was just in the middle of his O-Level exams. Michael must have been one of the very first Radio 4U listeners. He also introduced all his pals to the station and they all thought it was quite fab. When he heard the staff recruitment jingle he must have seen his big chance.
Even though he was a bit young, I have never turned anybody down without giving them a fair chance. So, we agreed that he would give me a shout as soon as the old exams were over.
To be quite honest, I did not expect too much of this meeting. Too many people came up to enquire, and then never showed up again, in those early days.

Some days later I cancelled ‘Rock Garten’, the late night Rock show, for several reasons: I assumed that there was not too much demand for such a regular programme; I ran out of material, music as well as jokes and, frankly, I could not be bothered any more.
Instead, I resumed ordinary programming like daytime Radio 4U from 11 pm until closedown, and extended transmission time until 1 am.
This programme was recorded and repeated the following morning between 7 and 9 am. Again, it was me who usually presented this programme over the following months. Being broadcast at two different times of the day I had to watch my words quite carefully. So I started every night / morning with the legendary greeting: “Radio 4U! Good morning, good evening, good night!” This phrase was copied by quite a few of Radio 4U DJs later and soon became the typical greeting form by our presenters.

It was the beginning of week three. Marie co-hosted the news, the two oldtimers were on their way out, and at the end of the day I still had a 17 hours per day job. This was to change rather quickly.

Michael actually turned up and even brought his friend Ciaron. I sat them both down for about two hours and taught them radio. Then they were put in the Hot Seat and I let them play records for an hour. Then I allowed them to fire a few jingles and, finally, their first voice over.

I kept on listening to their programme for two days in the mornings and only dropped in occasionally to give some tips. Eventually the two oldies, who were by then scheduled in the more favourable afternoons, ruined their last chance. I replaced the morning slot with Declan K. and I could move the junior team in their place:

The Ciaron and Michael Afternoon Show was born.