Mark Dezzani

 Interview by Roland Beaney.


Where and when were you born? - I was born in Crawley, West Sussex on 26th May 1961  


 What have you been doing since your last shows for Caroline? I set up the website providing news & video reports in English for the French Riviera. I will be adding a web radio soon. I have also been working freelance on various TV programmes including for Discovery Channel and producing corporate videos. I also DJ at events on the Cote d'Azur and am called on very occasionally to do some cover for Riviera Radio in Monaco.  


What is radio like in your area? - I get Italian and French stations on the FM band. I generally prefer the Italian stations although the best for music locally is on Radio Monaco.  


How did you get into Radio? - DIY. I was a land-based pirate. I got some mates at school to chip in a fiver each to buy our first short wave transmitter. We migrated to medium wave and then FM in Crawley before hitting the big time, tower block FM radio in London. One of my pirate colleagues Kevin Turner got a job on Radio Nova International in Italy and one day they needed to replace a DJ and Kevin recommended me. It was a life changer. I came for a one month trial and am still in Seborga, Italy 31 years later.  


When did you first join Caroline? - I think it was around 2000. I arranged to meet Peter Moore at a Radio Caroline day somewhere near Rochester. I nearly didn't make it. I wrote off my Mum's car earlier that day. I actually paid as a sponsor for the first month but when I passed the audition and bought Tom Anderson back for a spell, I got to do it for free. Loving Awareness in action.  


 What Radio stations are you involved with now? - Just Radio Caroline. I did a few days cover on Riviera Radio earlier this year. As mentioned I am planning to launch a web radio, Riviera Life Radio for the Cote d'Azur in 2014.  


What are your earliest memories of Caroline? - I have a very distinct memory of sitting on my baby sitters knee in the kitchen with our big old Bush valve radio on the fridge and hearing Can't Buy Me Love by The Beatles. I was only almost three years old when Caroline started, but I like to fantasise that I heard one of the first broadcasts. My first verifiable encounter must have been around 1966. The Bush radio had long gone in the cupboard under the stairs and we had had no radio in the house until I begged a brilliant old radio set from my Nonna (Gran) in Brighton. It was a Ferguson with an illuminated bubble like dial along the top. It was night time when I got it home, stuck a bit of wire in for an antennae, plugged it in and spun the dial. I found Big L Radio London, it had a hetrodyne whistle on the signal so I tuned further down the dial and found Caroline. I recall that in 1967 Excerpt From A Teenage Opera by Kieth West was a favourite of mine and seemed to herald the impending end of the golden age of offshore radio. I was thrilled that Radio Caroline continued for a while and was devastated when it disappeared. That's when I discovered Radio Veronica (I thought at first that they were speaking Welsh) and would hear pirates like Radio Jackie & Jennifer from South West London. When RNI came along in 1970 I was in seventh heaven.


What's your favourite station other than Caroline? - BBC 6 Music and BBC Radio 4. Radio Monaco is cool to stay in touch with trendy dance & indie music. I also quite like Grant Benson's Music 100.9 that broadcasts to Monaco from Italy. It is like a gold station with a Caroline touch.  


Who is the most famous person that you have met? - In my line of work I have met many from Silvio Berlusconi and Prince Albert to Puff Daddy. The list would be too long and boring to go into. I am not impressed by fame itself although I am very happy to meet those that I admire such as Justin Hayward and to find them genuinely nice and unaffected by fame. I had a great time with Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) and Douglas Adams was as cool and funny as you would expect him to be.  


Who influenced you the most? - Radio wise as a young listener I loved Roger Twiggy Day. He was always fun, opinionated and irreverent, and still is to this day. I always appreciated Andy Archer, Johnny Walker, Tom Anderson and John Peel, but the most influential has to be Tony Allen. All of them love their profession and took risks for what they believed in.  


What is the best and worst thing about radio today? - The best thing is the anarchy of Internet radio, which enables limitless choice and encourages the punk ethic that anyone can have a go. The worst thing is most music radio found on the FM band, especially the commercial borg stations. The talent that have not been laid off by automation and national networking, are balled and chained with pure audience research and the bottom line. The community stations that aren't just amateur copies of commercial radio are giving a voice to their communities. I am embarrassed to think that I lobbied for this. In fact I didn't lobby for a controlled commercial virtual monopoly but for a real free market with 10% of frequencies reserved for community stations.  


What's the most embarrassing or funny thing that's happened to you? - I won't go into detail on this, but it must have been my first visit to Holland and a Coffee Shop. My host offered me a 'party' joint. It is a mix of hashish and super strong skunk and I didn't realise how strong it was, so I smoked it like a normal homemade joint. I passed out and was revived by someone waving a Mars Bar under my nose.  


What do you do for your day job? - Principally these days I am a TV freelancer and video producer and lots of DJ work at events, but that is a night job.  


What's your favourite food? - I love food like I love music, so it is really difficult to name just one dish. As I am British with an Italian background I will choose a British and Italian dish. Brit dish: Roast lamb with roast spuds, sprouts. I also love liver and onion with mash and broccoli. Italian dish: Homemade ravioli in brodo (broth) as my mum makes it.  


What do you dislike doing the most? - Whatever I am told to do. Ask me nicely and I'll think about it. Otherwise it has to be doing the accounts.   Who would you like to get stuck with on a desert island?- Keira Knightly seems cool and intelligent.  


What's the most important thing that you have learnt about radio?- Be yourself, don't talk down or patronise and always take risks.    


What was the first record you bought?- 45: Golden Earring - Radar Love 33: Deep Purple - Machine Head and Emerson, Lake & Palmer - Trilogy. I bought them at the same time.  


What are your favourite bands and who is your hero? - The Cure. I went to school with them. St. Wilfred's RC Comprehensive in Crawley. They were two years above me and started out as Easy Cure. I love everything that they have done. Of course there are too many bands to mention. Regarding heroes, in popular culture it has to be John Lennon, George Harrison and Paul Simon. In real life, it has to be my Mum who has been a totally selfless carer.  


What are your 5 most iconic tunes? - This is getting to be too many questions, so on the spur of the moment they are: The Cure - Inbetween Days Aztec Camera - Oblivious Stevie Wonder - Living For The City Bob Marley - Redemption Song Any version of George Gershwin's Summertime  


What are your plans for the future? - To survive and to aspire to be for the anti-establishment what David Dimbleby does for the establishment so brilliantly.

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