John Cronnolley

Interview by Roland Beaney.


Where and when were you born?
Prestwich, Manchester, in December, 1955.

Where do you live now? Horwich, Bolton, Lancashire, a few miles away from the Winter Hill TV mast!

What is your favourite part of the UK? Fife, Scotland.

How did you get interested in Radio? I began by listening in the early 60s to Pick of the Pops with Fluff Freeman and Jack Jacksonís Decca Record Show on Radio Luxembourg at 7pm on Sunday nights.

What's your favourite food? Hollandís Meat and Potato Pie and chips with gravy!!

What was the first record you bought? Atlantis by The Shadows with I Want You To Want Me on the b-side! - on Columbia, DB7047!!

Who is the most famous person that you have met? Princess Margaret. She was opening our local youth club at St Margaretís, Prestwich and I was the Head Chorister in the choir at the church service to commemorate the opening.

What do you do for your day job? I work in a call-centre for a German utility company.

What are your earliest memories of Caroline? My Dad told me about a ship that was sailing round from South-East England with a radio station on board. It duly turned up in the Irish Sea, a couple of days later with Tom Lodge and Jerry Leighton. They seemed to play I Get Around by The Beach Boys quite a bit! I also remember Roger Gale apologising for the hammering and bashing in the background as they were constructing a new record library whilst he was broadcasting during a couple of evenings in late July 64.

How did you get involved with the restoration work on board the Ross Revenge? I went to Dover in July, 1993, for a week helping to start painting the ship on the port side using a hammer, wire brush, 2-inch paint brush and paint. I painted from the start of the port-side back deck overhang, forward to opposite the TX hatch down to the waterline standing on a wooden ladder and a small boat. Over the next 12 years I helped to paint the Ross Revenge in various other locations such as Bradwell, Chatham, Southend and Queenborough. I eventually joined the Restoration Crew in August, 2005, in the Port of Tilbury. I think there have only been Alan Beech and Acting Chief Engineer Peter Clayton who have worked on the ship for approximately the same length of time as I have.

When did you first join Caroline? I did my first programme on 13 July, 2008 with Phil Meek, another Restoration Crew member. I always thought that I didnít have a voice for radio (and some say that is still true!) and it took some persuading from Phil. So I gave it a go and did occasional programs on the Bank Holidays from the ship. Eventually I was given my first regular programme on 13 June, 2010.

What's your favourite station other than Caroline? It used to be Radio 2 until they started messing around with the presenters. Their aim seems to be bringing in TV personalities to present programs and although that might seem popular nowadays using celebrities, to me it isnít radio.

Who influenced you the most? Alan Freeman, Tony Allan and Bob Harris.

What is the best and worst thing about radio today? As said here before in previous interviews, the worst is the narrowcasting of radio. The lowest common denominator now is money and how cheap you can do it with as few people as possible. Also the drive to DAB, which sounds crap, but people put up with it. Another is the reduced playlist. At the time of writing, the total number of tracks being played over a 30-day period by Heart in London, is 558 (rather ironic!) and the Gold network has 972. I donít know about Caroline as you would have to count them! In theory, if you played 13 tracks an hour over 30 days it is 9,360 if you played them all once!!! So you have to strike a balance, but it doesnít have to be that restricted. The best is the internet radio stations, with the diversity of the stations. There are some opinions that Caroline should have a Gold station. Why? There are so many on the net and also on the radio. If you want to listen to one in particular, try CCRN.

How much music freedom do you have on Caroline? It is quite relaxed and whatever you wish to play, within reason and using common sense. I have a broad taste in music and I hope my programme brings that across.

What do you dislike doing the most? Being told to do something which is morally wrong but you have to do it or you have no job.

What other Radio stations are you involved with? FC United of Manchester. The football club has its own radio station that broadcasts its own football matches but has music programming the rest of the time. Eventually they are hoping to try for a community radio licence. Iím on at 1pm with Dadrock and Dance!

What's the most important thing that you learnt about Radio? Donít waffle (where possible!) donít come across as Smashie and Nicey (notí arf!) but try to play music that listeners may not have heard either for some time or at all.

What are your favourite bands and who is your hero? Favourite bands are numerous, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Who, etc and also have a soft spot for The Enid.  Heroes are anyone in the armed forces who are fighting where they shouldnít be and all the crews and presenters of all the offshore radio stations either on boats or structures over the past 46 years. For them to go out and sit on whatever, in all sorts of weather, just to play music, with the equipment they had is unbelievable. Because of technology, I have it easy compared to what they all endured.

What are your 5 most iconic tunes?  Too many to list.

What plans have you for the future? Considering what Iíve been through over the last 18 months (cancerous tumour, chemotherapy, left leg amputation, leg prosthethis and physio) I think it would be staying alive to be perfectly honest!!

Thank you John for answering my questions. I am sure you will be playing the tunes for a long time, notí arf!

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