Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin

Interview by Roland Beaney.

Where and when were you born?

I was born in Sittingbourne Kent in 1953 which makes me a Man of Kent rather than a Kentish Man. The division is east of the River Medway,

Where do you live now and what is your favourite part of the Country?

Along with my family we live in the Medway towns and have plans to build our new house on the Hoo peninsular soon. My daytime occupation in sales takes me to most of the UK and I have been privileged to stop over in some scenic places. I enjoy visiting Scotland and try to stay near Loch Lomond as It is easy to get to many of my customers and tend to travel by train into Glasgow and Edinburgh. My favourite holiday haunt is Norfolk as it reminds me of how life used to be growing up in a small village, the pace of life there is a lot less frantic and the scenery stunning especially on The Broads.

How did you get involved in Radio?

Having persuaded my Father to buy me a Binatone Transistor radio complete with earpiece and leatherette case I became hooked on the Pirates. As a rebellious teenager I admired the stance against the government that the DJs and Radio Caroline made after the MOA came into effect. To my parents horror when asked at school by the careers officer what I would like to do in the future I replied that the only job I wanted was as a pirate radio DJ.

When did you first join Caroline and why?

It took thirty years to realise my ambition. I happened to be working in Southend and driving along the seafront saw the Ross Revenge at the end of the pier. Having made the long walk I stepped aboard another of life's dreams achieved. She was in a poor state of repair and the deck cluttered with rubbish, but just being there was wonderful. A couple of months later I saw an article in The Guardian by Peter Moore asking for new volunteers to help with the ship. I swiftly sent off my details waited for his reply.( I'm still waiting). On Wednesday evening I received a phone call explaining that he was calling on behalf of Peter and as I have a sales background could I meet him on the ship as Caroline had a local broadcast about to start off Queenborough. Having managed to raise some revenue for this Peter called again in October asking if I could get some advertisers as Caroline had been invited to partake in the Merlin Global 24hour broadcast. We had two one hour slots from midnight and Graham Hall did breakfast. Another phone call from Peter asked me if I could take an 8 hour video tape to Maidstone as EKR had allowed Caroline a slot on their station. This started a long association with The Maidstone Studios. My presentation skills were called upon a few months later by David Foster as there was nobody to present from 1pm on the Saturday for one hour ( as I thought ) When nobody had turned up at 1.45 a call to Dave informed me that I was now on the air until 4! The rest is history. It is a great privilege to broadcast on Radio Caroline and pay homage to all those great presenters who have gone before me.

Tell us about your work in promoting local bands?

A friend of mine asked if there might be chance of publicising a local event where young musicians are given the chance to play to a live audience using professional stage equipment and a video wall. Thus Sound hole was born and as you know I visit the gig when ever I can and play there music on Thursdays and encourage them to come to the studio to talk about their music. Who knows one a band might just make it.

What is the best and worst thing about radio today?

It disappoints me today that after all the effort put in by the offshore stations most of the local radio is bland in its presentation as the DJ's are told what to say and what to play out of only 200 records on rotation. What happened to spontaneity ! That's what makes Radio Caroline different.

What are your favourite bands or groups?

I still enjoy seeing music played live and get to as many concerts as time and money allow including The Who, Journey, ELO, I have tickets to see Status Quo this Christmas. If you want a good inexpensive night out go and see some of the sixties bands like the Searchers, Marmalade and The Hollies you will not be disappointed.

What do you do in your spare time?

I enjoy going to the annual Radio Day in Amsterdam. It is well worth a visit and you can meet all your heroes from the past. D?

Thank you Andrew and the best of luck

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