Becoming a Radio Presenter

Recently, I completed a new musical project – I took the basic definition of a classical symphony & decided to see if I could translate it to a rock band line up of bass, drums, guitars & keyboards. I’m pretty pleased with the way it turned out & you can hear part of it here. I also have the whole thing available for download here.

Anyway, now I’ve got the shameless plug out of the way, it’s on with the story… Basically I lent a copy of the symphony to a mate who has a show on the local community radio station, Palace FM. He loved it & passed it on to the station manager who in turn, not only invited me in for an interview during her drivetime show but also played the whole 30+ minutes of music in the symphony. This was all fantastic exposure for my music, but it didn’t stop there…

Dee, the aforementioned station manager, actually does a weekly spot on Fridays playing guitar & singing a couple of songs on air, so I asked if I could come & join in. “Absolutely!” came the reply & we agreed to meet up to rehearse a couple of songs for the following week. I’d also noticed an ad on the station’s website asking for people to try out as presenters & on a whim I asked if I could have a go…

Next thing I know we’ve got a couple of songs organised for the Friday evening show, and I’m being shown how to use the “Rivendell” software which pretty much runs the station. All the music is played through this interface, as well as all the news bulletins, jingles, ads & so on – no CDs & definitely no vinyl – it’s all done with a keyboard & mouse clicks in an interface remarkably like Spotify. I also get a crash course in how to do links, how to cue up songs & jingles, how to “back-time” to hit the top of the hour etc. etc. It all seemed like a lot to take in, & I was beginning to wonder if I’d bitten off more than I could chew.

This was all on the Saturday before I was due to play guitar on Dee’s Friday show. My own show was scheduled to begin on the Tuesday, so come Tuesday morning I don’t mind admitting I was as nervous as a tomcat in a vets waiting room! There I was, sat in the radio station reception trying desperately to remember everything I’d been told, then before I knew it I was in the broadcasting booth, the “top of the hour” jingle had finished and I was on air. Talking about the songs I had in the play-list in front of me… googling for info while a song was playing if I didn’t have anything to say about it & needed material for a link… Doing the odd time check & asking listeners to tweet messages to the studio etc etc… Before I knew it, my two hours were up and I’d made it through my first show with no calamities, which filled me with confidence for my Friday evening slot jamming on air.

Curiously, I was much less nervous about playing the guitar on air than I had been about talking on air. Perhaps there’s some deep reason for that, perhaps not. All I know is that I enjoyed being cramped into a small windowless room, with no A/C on the hottest day of the year, struggling with a guitar which was determined to slip out of tune mid-song, playing material I was unfamiliar with (Dee had decided to dump one of the songs we’d rehearsed in favour of one I’d never heard of. Thanks Dee!) while thousands of people listened in. No pressure, then!

Anyway… we all survived the heat & the out of tune guitars and I hung around for the rest of the show having a laugh and nattering on air about music, items in the local press, and life in general. Apart from being conscious of making sure I didn’t swear or curse, I forgot I was broadcasting and it just felt like two people having a chat & playing some tunes. It was great fun! I must have done OK because the next thing I know I’m being asked to come back next week & co-present the whole show, as well as doing the “live music” slot.

So, now I’m doing my own show on a Tuesday lunchtime 12-2pm – a collection of great music, Sinatra to the Sex Pistols & all points in between, plus stories from the music business and in addition I’m co-hosting the Friday drive-time show 4-6pm including playing guitar live on air. I’m enjoying it immensely and the nerves are gone altogether. I find myself practicing links at home… timing myself to hit the top of the hour… thinking of guests to book on the show and all the other stuff that (I’m guessing) radio hosts do on a regular basis. You can listen in & see how I’m doing by going to Palace FM and hitting the “listen live” button – or listen via TuneIn either on your PC or via their app on your smartphone or tablet.

This is all great publicity for my guitar tuition business, but it’s something I’m beginning to think may be a career path for me. As a very wise person once said… “Find a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life”. Amen to that!


John Robson Guitar Tuition & Musicianship Coaching


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