and when were you born? - Longer ago than I'd care to
remember in south east London.
Where do you live now? -In south east London.
What is your favourite part of the Country? - I've
lived in both east and west Yorkshire, west Sussex and
Dorset. All of them have some fantastic countryside and some
of the most friendly people you could ever wish to meet. But
I'm a London lad at heart. I was born and brought up there
and whilst it has its not very nice aspects it's home.
How did you get into radio? - It's was my Dad's
fault. He introduced me to the families big Decca valve
wireless and showed me how to twiddle the tuning knob and
told me about some of the stations that we could hear and
where they were. He also pointed out that one of them was on
a ship. I was hooked immediately. From there I went into
hospital radio and then got involved in the landbased
pirates in London. I also spent some twenty odd years
working in commercial radio.
When did you first join Caroline? - In 1978. I'd
wanted to work on 'proper' radio since I was a young
schoolboy and to actually get the chance to work on arguably
the world's most famous radio station was a dream come true.
What other Radio stations have you been involved with?
Well, I've already mentioned hospital radio. The stations I
worked on were Radio St Nicks which broadcast to the
hospital where I was born. The other stations were Radio
Greenwich and WHBS. London Music Radio was the landbased
pirate I was involved with. Bob Lawrence was there too.
There was also cable radio service Greenwich Sound which I
helped set up also with a certain Bob Lawrence. From there I
was at Viking Radio, Pennine Radio, The Pulse, Wessex Fm,
Spirit FM and Vale FM.
What are your earliest memories of Caroline? - First
discovering it with my Dad on that old wireless I mentioned
earlier. It must have been around late 1964/early 1965. I
also have memories of being on school holidays and hearing
Caroline Cash Casino. My Mum was listening to it whilst
doing the ironing!
What's your favourite station other than Caroline? -
Are there any stations other than Caroline worth listening
Who is the most famous person that you have met? -
Blimey! I could give you a list but that would be boasting!
Take your pick from Phil Collins, Roy Jenkins, Ted Heath and
Who do you particularly remember in your offshore days?
- Long bouncing tender trips, great food cooked by Kees
Borrell and the opportunity to meet and work with some very
talented and gifted people.
Who influenced you the most? - People often ask me
that. The answer is I don't really know!
What is the best and worst thing about radio today?
-The best thing is that Caroline is still here despite
everything. It is still providing an alternative and it is
still relevant. The worst thing is the monumental mess that
radio generally has become in this country, commercial radio
in particular. There are many in the industry and within
government and the regulatory bodies who should hang their
heads in shame.
How much music freedom do you have on Caroline? -
Radio Caroline is probably the only station that gives its
presenters a huge amount of free choice in the music that's
played. There is a format and there are rules but within
them there is much freedom. That why Caroline is different
and better in my opinion.
Could you tell us about the music policy on Caroline -
The music policy is quite simple to explain. One of the
first things you need to understand is that Radio Caroline
is not a rock station. We never have been. We are
predominantly an album station aimed at adults. Our format
is AOR, using the original definition of the term meaning
“Adult Orientated Radio” which, quite simply, means that we
are orientated towards an adult audience. This format is
often incorrectly defined “Adult Orientated Rock”. Having
appreciated this, perhaps, subtle difference we can move on.
The music we play is largely from albums and it is not
confined to any particular genre. Yes, you could call it
‘rock’ in the broadest sense of the term but what does
‘rock’ mean exactly? The Eagles are a rock band, aren’t
they? Well, no hang on a bit some of their stuff is verging
on ‘country’. Radio Caroline has played and does play The
Eagles. What about Chicago then? They’re a rock band aren’t
they? But, wait a bit they can almost sound like a ‘jazz’
band sometimes. Radio Caroline has played and does play
Chicago. What about Stevie Wonder? We don’t play him do we?
He’s not ‘rock’. Well, no possibly not but Radio Caroline
has played and does play Stevie Wonder.
Actually we prefer not to think of the music we play in
terms of genres at all. We would rather ask ourselves
whether we think it’s a good track, do we think it will fit
in with the general sound, do we think a large number of our
listeners would enjoy it. If we can answer yes to those
questions then we play the track and who cares if it might
be called rock, jazz, reggae, pop, classical or whatever!
We draw our music from the last 45 odd years and mix that
with what we consider to be 'suitable' new music. That new
music can be by old established artists or new musicians
starting out. Again, if we think it's a good track we'll
play it. There is a formula for playing the music on air
which I won't bore you with but that formula doesn't tell a
presenter what track to play. It simply lays down a
framework for a spread of eras across an hour and leaves the
presenter to decide what track to play. Whilst this gives
our presenters enormous freedom it also places on them a
huge responsibility, but it also results in Caroline playing
some wonderful stuff you just don't hear anywhere else.
What is your role on Caroline other than presenter -
My role is really that of a programming co-ordinator. I am
responsible to PM for the organisation of our programmes,
who does them and the content. I also take care of much of
the admin on the programming side of things. I speak with PM
almost every day and we spend a good deal of time on
programming matters. Nothing is done without his approval as
he remains in overall charge of Caroline. So, if you like I
manage programming on Caroline.
What's the most embarrassing or funny thing that's
happened to you? - Going base over tip backwards on to
the deck of the Mi Amigo whilst try to get on a tender in
full view of everyone! Then there was time I accidentally
slammed a door in the face of the IBA's Regional Radio
Officer in Yorkshire!
What do you do for your day job? - Never you mind!
What's your favourite food? - Almost anything that's
put in front of me!
What do you dislike doing the most? - My day job
Who would you like to get stuck with on a desert Island?
- A decent Chef and a well stocked freezer.
What's the most important thing that you learnt about Radio?
- I'll let you know when I hang up my headphones because you
never stop learning.
What was the first record you bought? - This may seem
strange but I really don't remember!
What are your favourite bands and who is your hero? - Far
too many to mention. I like good music, well performed and I
don't really much care what genre its lumped into.
What are your 5 most iconic tunes? - There's no point
in answering this as it will change by the time anyone reads
What are your plans for the future - To keep on
working as hard as I can to help Caroline continue.
Thank you Cliff for your interview and for all the work
to put in behind the scenes.