Lee Shuttlewood

 Interview by Roland Beaney.


Where and when were you born? - I was born in St John's Hospital, Chelmsford Essex, and grew up in the Village of Great Baddow, which lies just a few miles South of Chelmsford.


Where do you live now? - Nowadays I live in the village of Danbury, which is five miles East of Great Baddow.


What is your favourite part of the Country? - There are many places in Essex that I love; most of them are pretty much off the beaten track like Steeple Stone, Burnham-on-Crouch (with Hyphens!), Mersea Island, and Twitty Fee. I can't say that I'm the most widely travelled of souls, but away from Essex, there are some real nice places in Suffolk, Kent, Sussex, Devon and Somerset which I really like. Most being small coastal towns and villages, although inland I love the beauty and isolation of places like Dartmoor.


How did you get interested in Radio? - My interest in radio started as soon as I got my first transistor radio as a child. I guess that initially it was the novelty of the fact that I could listen to people and music coming from places, both near and far that caught my imagination, but then and far more importantly, the fact that radio could entertain, inform, and paint all sorts of wonderful pictures in the mind that really got me hooked.


When did you first join Caroline? - I joined Caroline at the end of July 2004. Having at that time only recently had the internet put in, I discovered the Horizon website, which had a request for volunteers to help prepare our ship The Ross Revenge for opening to the public and the Tilbury 1278am broadcast. I spent the week before the broadcast started, chipping, grinding and painting etc, I was lucky enough to be invited back and to join the restoration crew.


How did you get involved with the restoration work on board the Ross Revenge? - I think I pretty much covered that one with the above. My getting into the radio side of Caroline is another story altogether, and if there's anyone to blame for your being lumbered with me on the radio, it's Alan Beech and Cliff Osbourne. I'd been along to the studio with Alan Beech when he was standing in for Pandora on various occasions, but it was at the Cambridge rock festival in 2007 when I went on air in my own right for the first time. It was the first year that Caroline had broadcast live from the festival, and Alan was down to broadcast overnight on the Saturday into Sunday morning. It got to about half past two, and Alan got out of the chair, and said. "That song's got about four minutes to run, and you'd better think of something to play, because you're on next". I remember that the song Alan was playing which was a live version of Mary Gauthier's "Wheel inside a wheel" and the first one I played was Albert Hammond's "Moonlight Lady". Since then Cliff Osbourne has let members of the restoration crew loose on air overnight when broadcasts came from the ship, and it kind of went from there.


What are your earliest memories of Caroline? - I have some very vague memories of Caroline in the late seventies, but the strongest early memory has to be of March 20th 1980 when the Mi Amigo went down, and following that it was the excitement of having picked up the first transmissions from the Ross Revenge, and little did I know in those far off days, that one day I'd be working on that same ship.


What other Radio stations are you involved with? - Caroline is the only station I'm involved with, and I cannot say that I'd ever really given any serious thought to getting involved with other stations up to now. However there are one or two local community stations round my part of the world that are asking for volunteers to become presenters and offering the candidates various radio courses at token prices which, assuming they pass could be offered a position. So, although I wouldn't want anything to get in the way of what I do with Radio Caroline, both on air and behind the scenes, I may have a look at these courses, especially if it will help me to gain more experience and an insight into how radio is done outside of Caroline. After all, you are the sum of what you've done and/or experienced.


What's your favourite station other than Caroline? - I don't really have a favourite outside of Caroline. I do listen to other stations, which are mainly BBC Essex for the local news, weather and information, Radio 4, particularly on Long Wave for Test Match Special, and of those I get subjected to at work, I'd say Absolute is the best of the bunch.


Who is the most famous person that you have met? - Probably the most famous are Bill Nighy and Richard Curtis, who Alan and I were introduced to when we were installing the Ross Revenge studio equipment on the set of the Boat that Rocked at Sheperton studios and former Essex and England Cricket captain, Graham Gooch.


Who has influenced you the most? - I can't say as anyone in particular has influenced me in a big way, or at least enough to make me remember someone in particular to give the credit to. I've always been one to watch, listen etc, and pick out the bits which are most likely to work for me. That's something which is very much a part of my trade in the day job, which I've been in for twenty one years now, and therefore it's pretty much ingrained into me. With the work I do, there are no hard and fast methods to doing things, it's all very much a "black art" and everyone has their own way of achieving the same result.


What is the best and worst thing about radio today? - Other than the current stability of Caroline, and the fact that we are lucky enough to have it with us all the time, and in high quality stereo as well, I cannot think of very much which is really good about today's radio. I'm sure there must be some good things out there, but in my opinion, they are very much hidden below a huge pile of bad things. I'll try and resist the temptation to get the soapbox out for a good rant, but radio today is in a very poor state. We have the powers that be rumbling on about how much choice we have in listening, but when the majority of that choice is which frequency we listen to Heart on, I don't think that's much of a choice. Fortunately we still have the BBC, which seems to have raised it's game against the Commercial stations quite considerably, well at local level at least. Certainly in the case of BBC Essex, they have made a big play about being local when, of the two "local" commercial stations, one has a show or two a day coming from a local studio and the rest comes from London. The other one doesn't even broadcast from Chelmsford, the town it takes its name from; it comes from Southend on Sea. I am however very interested to see whether all of this amalgamation and  rebranding of the old I.L.R. will benefit the growing numbers of community stations.  I hope it does, as I don't think the Global fat cats deserve to keep their audiences, given their efforts to turn radio into a low investment cash cow. How much music freedom do you have on Caroline? - There is a format and a few rules to go by, but I've got a huge amount of freedom within the format to play what I like and hope the person listening also would enjoy. Of course, common sense comes into it, and I don't go playing anything which I feel could be offensive, or way outside of what would fit in with Caroline. In short, as Bob Lawrence puts it: "With freedom, comes responsibility".


What's the most embarrassing or funny thing that's happened to you? - Probably the circumstances by which I came to meet Graham Gooch. I used to frequent a pub at Mill Green near Margaretting, called the Viper, and the nature of its parking  arrangements made it very easy to block people in, and on that occasion it was his car that I blocked in. Pretty lame you may think, but at the time I had only just changed cars, and when both he and the landlord were asking around for the owner of a Blue Cavalier, it didn't register with me at first, because I'd only just changed to it from a Red one, and it was only on their third time of asking round I realised my mistake.....Idiot! What do you do for your day job? - I'm a glassblower, a trade that I've been in for twenty one years. I started out having passed my apprenticeship, making industrial and broadcast valves at English Electric, and nowadays I work for Sentek, making pH and other electrochemical laboratory/industrial sensors and instruments.


What's your favourite food? - There's a difficult one. There are things I cannot eat due to allergies, but outside of that my tastes are pretty wide and varied. I love traditional UK dishes, and am a big fan of Indian food as well.


What do you dislike doing the most? -  Commuting. With the amount of congestion and bad driving on the roads these days, motoring, especially when you have to be somewhere in a certain time just isn't fun anymore.


Who would you like to get stuck with on a desert Island?  - Hmmm. There are all sorts of possible answers to this one. I'd rather not get stuck on a desert Island at all really, unless there's a pub and a good source of grub. That said, I think I'd rather like to get stranded with BBC Weather Forecaster Laura Tobin, a very attractive, and intelligent lady, and her meteorological knowledge would be priceless were we to manage to fashion a boat or raft in order to try and get back to civilisation.


What's the most important thing that you learnt about Radio? -  Certainly as far as working on Caroline is concerned, I don't matter, the music that I play does. Some people will argue until the cows come home as to what sort of music station Caroline is, but it is a music station, and it's the music which is of greatest importance as far as I am concerned. One thing I firmly believe in, is that you can never stop learning, provided you pay attention to those around you and what you listen to, read, and watch. Never be afraid to ask a question, and listen to the answers you are given, even if it's not an answer you particularly you want to hear, because that sort of answer is almost always the one you could learn most from.


What was the first record you bought? - I honestly cannot remember now. I do remember the first one I ever owned, not that I'm sure I should admit to it, but it was the self titled Bucks Fizz  album, and came my way as a Christmas present the year I got my first record player.


What are your favourite bands and who is your hero? - Ohh 'eck, now there's a question. My favourite bands are very much on rotation in accordance with mood, what's new, the weather, time of year etc, and are permanently changing. As I write this, I'm really into a local band's new album, which is Called  "Silence the prophets" by the Doll Set Tones. The Tommy Castro band, Ozark Mountain daredevils, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and Robin Beck are also very much in favour at the moment as well.


What are your 5 most iconic tunes? -  For me all the most iconic songs have an important message in them, and for me they are: Tom Robinson Band, Power in the darkness. Mary Chapin Carpenter, On with the song. Pink Floyd, Keep Talking. John Lennon, Imagine. Little River Band, Listen to your heart. What plans have you for the future?  - I'm not a big one for making plans, seeing as something usually comes along to scupper them. That said, I'm looking forward to having a bit of a break, after what has been a very hectic first half of the year.


Thank you very much Lee for the interview. I would also add that Lee is also the ships cook and provides us with an excellent meal after a hard days grafting on board the Ross Revenge. Lee also spent many month converting the old dog kennel into a shop to sell merchandise to visitors.

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