I don’t enjoy driving. In fact, I positively dislike it and if I ever win the Lottery the first thing I would do would be to get a driver (because, of course, I would carry on working…). However, such is the geographical spread of our clients – Mecca Bingo in Maidenhead; Thomas Cook in Peterborough; DFS in Doncaster; Greggs in Newcastle; Asda in Leeds; The Original Factory Shop in Burnley; Debenhams in London; The Chimes Shopping Centre in Uxbridge; and, closer to home, Pets at Home in Handforth, that I am obliged to spend a lot of time on the road.
Last week it was Ramsgate for an Asda store opening, a round trip of 550 miles in beautiful sunshine. And Ramsgate is lovely at this time of year. My hotel boasted the fact that Dickens and Queen Victoria had stayed there – not at the same time, I don’t think – and very nice it was too. I did get concerned at one point that I was heading for the Channel Tunnel, rather than the Dartford Tunnel, but Sat Nav came good in the end. It was slightly disconcerting, though when French radio stations started appearing on the dial, with Aznavour competing with the Arctic Monkeys…
One thing a long car journey does allow you to do is to listen to any number of radio stations and hear the very best, and the very worst, of British broadcasting. As radio was my first love I tend to flick between stations on a 10 mile journey, so think how much fun I had on a 500 miles plus voyage! And that is not to mention the enjoyment, and pride, I have when I see clients’ lorries on the motorway such as Asda, Debenhams, Greggs and Pets at Home and those of people I would like as clients, such as Comet, B and Q and Staples.
Anyway, back to radio…I always give Chris Moyles first refusal as I set off but tire of him very quickly. There is one busted flush. And as for Comedy Dave – you don’t tell people you are funny, you tell them a joke and let them decide. Chris Evans, meanwhile, continues to be the very best in class, working on the premise that if he gets bored, so too will his listeners so it is all short, sharp and incredibly good. As I am growing into my father, even Ken Bruce is beginning to appeal and Pop Master is worryingly addictive, simple as the concept is.
In the middle of the day I dip into BBC Local Radio stations – you can’t beat a good phone in on gardening and knitting – and to local commercial stations where Smashie and Nicey still exist a plenty. I do wonder/worry how ‘local’ some of these stations are, operating as they do nationally with little or no regional relevance. Still, in this fast changing media landscape, radio is not only holding its own, it’s doing incredibly well and long may that continue. Steve Wright’s smugness, meanwhile, as I hit the Toll Road, is matched only by that of his team of sidekicks. 90 seconds before I go gaga…
I save the best till last, the genius that is Talk Sport. If there was ever a product that did what it said on the tin, this is it. It speaks to its listeners in the vernacular and knows what the sporting ‘water cooler conversation’ will be, hour by hour, rather than day by day. Intelligent, informed, thought provoking, it has the lot. Sports radio has moved on a bit since I was a sports producer at Piccadilly Radio in the 80’s, but I did give Tommy Docherty his first phone in programme, so maybe I was ahead of the game. Now, where did I put my Sony Award…?