Where and when were you born?
In Devon in 1956.
Where do you live now?
Just outside Eccleshall in Staffordshire.
What is your favourite
part of the country?
This is a difficult one as
there are so many beautiful areas in Britain, both industrial
and rural. If I had a shortlist, though, it would certainly
include North Wales.
How did you get involved
It was a combination
of an interest in electronics and a love of music. It really
gelled when I was aged 13 and playing with a big Marconi
valve radio set my father had give me that summer. I came
across Radio Northsea Internationalís short wave transmissions,
and from that point on I was hooked.
Why do you call your
Well initially Imagination
wasnít a programme, but a radio station. The station needed
a name, and Imagination was chosen as a derivative of John
Lennonís wonderful song title Imagine. The phrase ĎWe are
the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreamsí was
taken from ĎOdeí by Arthur OíShaughnessy and chosen by my
Could you tell us about
your thirst for new and rare music?
aware that, if in the future I wanted to look back on this
period of my life in the same way as I now look back on
the 1970s (for example), it would be necessary to lay down
a memory bed of new songs to support those emotions and
experiences that are occurring now. These are the moments
that I will cherish in twenty years time, and in the future
todayís new music will act as a gateway to those memories.
The amount of pleasure I get from listening to any particular
new song tends to peak around the fourth or fifth time of
listening. Too early and itís still strange territory, and
too late and itís getting stale. For me, that musical Nirvana
lays between the two. This assumes that the song has what
it takes Ė of course, some will never make it! The trick
is to pass on that pleasure to the listener whilst having
as much fun as possible, which is what itís all about. By
concentrating on two or three tracks from a new album I
hope from time to time to despatch every Imagination listener
to their own personal musical Nirvana.
What other radio stations
have you been involved with?
If I disregard the boyhood
fun I had with a beam tetrode when I was fifteen, my first
proper foray into the radio world was with London Music
Radio (LMR) in the late 70s. In May 1981 I took a summer
job on the Mediterranean aboard the Peace Ship where I put
my electronics knowledge to use as an engineer. In September
1994 I ran an RSL in Stafford under the name of Stafford
Broadcasting Society. This was great fun, as it was 25%
speech output and involved meeting and managing a huge number
of people. In October 1999 Imagination Radio took to the
air on 6010 kHz each Friday evening using a 250kW transmitter
in Cumbria. I was really bitten by the radio bug by that
stage, and I joined Caroline in October 2000 when my contract
with Merlin expired. Imagination Radio became the Imagination
Show, and I think you know the rest.
What are your earliest
memories of Caroline?
My earliest memory of Caroline
was in 1973, after I had saved my pocket money for months
and bought a Grundig TR600 portable transistor radio. I
was living near Helston in Cornwall at the time, and reception
was pretty dire! I left home at 17 in 1974 and moved to
Sussex where I found both the reception and Carolineís changed
music style very much to my liking.
What is your favourite
radio station other than Caroline?
I am a class A radio
amateur and a short wave listener so there are certainly
plenty to choose from, but head and shoulders above the
rest is BBC Radio 4.
Whatís the best and
worse thing about radio today?
The worst thing about radio
today is that, in the search for maximum profits, almost
every broadcaster has dropped its programme standards to
the lowest common denominator; it treats us as if we are
donkeys. The best thing is the new and evolving regulatory
framework that enables stations like us to get on air and
reach a worldwide audience with such excellent fidelity.
Have you any embarrassing
or funny moments to share with us?
At LMR in the late 1970s
it must have been self preservation that kept my record
clean. I was always very nervous when I stood in the vicinity
of an operating transmitter, and from time to time the other
guys took advantage of me by yelling ďRAID! RAID!Ē to get
a laugh at my expense. One summer evening in 1979 I was
sitting in a Bromley beer garden with Richard Thompson and
Cliff Osborne, and we started drawing up my personal top
30 album tracks. When it was finished Richard thought it
was so good it ought to go out to the Mi Amigo with him
and be played one Sunday evening. I didnít want to use my
full name, and I couldnít use my DJ name or listeners would
think Richard was only playing his friendís top 30s. We
didnít really decide on which name would be used, so when
it was featured a few weeks later I listened with interest.
My edgy disposition had led some bright spark to christen
me ĎRob Stainesí for the night! I still have the show on
What do you do for
What is your favourite
I love Indian food, and in
particular Chicken Assami.
What do you dislike
doing the most?
What are your favourite
bands or groups?
Thatís impossible to answer.
It would be just as likely to be the [Thomas] Tallis Scholars
or some Welsh Male Voice Choir as it would be a Rock Band.
Whatever it is, itís better LIVE!
What are your top 5
Thatís almost impossible
to answer too, as they will change with the passage of time.
A list for today would include The Sheepstealers by The
Voice Squad, Rutterís Requiem, and probably something from
one of the present day progressive bands.
When did you last go
on board the Ross?
During the 1278 kHz RSL in
What plans have you
for the future?
I donít know how to answer
this question, as there is nothing in particular that I
want and donít already have. That doesnít mean Iím loaded,
it just means I know the difference between need and want.
I have a lovely cottage and a lovely wife, a lovely couple
of cats, and a dog who is lovely most of the time. I think
I will be content to follow the advice of Strangefish in
Fortune Telling, and remain Ė Happy As I Am!
Sadly Rob has passed away. Rob
will always be remembered for his shows on Caroline bringing
us his own special style of music on Thursday nights and
his excellent breakfast shows on Friday mornings.