Where did you grow
I was born in Lincolnshire,
but as a young boy I grew up around Northampton and Wellingborough.
Eventually we moved to a place called Chasetown in Staffordshire
and I spent a lot of my schooldays at Cannock Grammar School.
My family moved down to Greatstone
on the Kent Coast in 1970 and I've lived in Kent ever since.
When I first moved to Kent our house was right on the seafront.
Being a young anorak, I used to gaze out to sea vainly looking
for new pirate radio ships!
Where do you live now
and what are your favourite parts of the world?
I live half-way between Maidstone
and Rochester in a little village next to the River Medway,
with my lovely lady Angie. It's a good combination of being
in the country and very close to some towns.
I love travelling and have
many favourite places. I would say that the South of Florida
around Naples is one of my favourite places. Last year we
went to the Florida Keys for the first time and that's also
a wonderful part of the world. As far as Europe goes, then
I love the South of France and have been there quiet a few
times. I love the fact that the sun gets switched to full
power as you drive from Lyon to the Riviera coast. We went
to Lake Konstanz in Germany recently and that was very impressive,
with the Alps in the background to the lake. Talking of
Germany, the Rhine Valley south of Koblenz is another favourite.
How did you get interested
in Radio ?
small boy, I grew up with the radio playing all day in the
house, it seemed to be comedy shows and talk but at night
it became Radio Luxemburg. Then around 1964 things changed,
the big transistor radio in the house started playing pop
music all day. I clearly remember the day when the MV Caroline
sailed around the coast, even though I was very young. That
was the moment it started to get interesting. Then one week
in early 1966 I was ill in bed and I got the big transistor
radio to play with, I found all these stations, Caroline,
Big L, Radio City, Radio 390 and more and I just spent all
week tuning around. I was hooked, and after that I got my
own transistor radio and there was no looking back.
Within a few months I had
the back off and worked out that if you "tweaked"
screws on the little capacitor some stations got louder!
Then, me and my "super-tweaked radio" spent every
night under the covers listening to Johnnie Walker on Radio
Caroline South, he was my radio hero.
When the Caroline ships were
towed away in March 1968, I found Radio Veronica and Robbie
Dale's English shows. Then of course it was 1970 and I latched
on to RNI right from the very first test transmissions,
I loved that summer of 1970, despite the jamming. After
that it was the return of Caroline, and the English service
of Atlantis and I was officially a fully-fledged anorak
What made you get involved
in broadcasting ?
I can clearly remember, standing
next to a bus-stop as a kid, with my transistor radio in
my hand listening to Caroline and thinking, when I grow
up I want to be a Radio Caroline disc-jockey! But that moment
took many years to arrive.
After being addicted to offshore
radio from the mid-60s onwards, in 1977 I went out to the
MI Amigo on one of Albert Hood's early boat trips. I remember
the moment we pulled alongside, it was a very cloudy, grey
afternoon and I thought how strange and eerie it felt as
the guys came out on deck to greet us. The Mi Amigo looked
like it was in "the twilight zone", amongst the
grey surrounding sea with nothing around. The next time
I went out on a trip it was a sunny day and it had a very
In August 1977, I went to
the big Flashback'67 Convention near Heathrow Airport. It
was a two day event featuring many big offshore names like
Andy Archer, Robbie Dale and Ronan. While I was there I
bumped into a few guys selling radio magazines and got chatting
to Stuart Clark (who eventually went on to work for Caroline
in the 80's). A few months later, I found out that a guy
just along the coast from me had just started a new pirate
on short-wave called Radio Cavendish. So, without any training
at all (not even hospital radio), I sent Phil Collins, the
guy running it, an awful demo-tape. Somehow he liked the
music and the audio quality and managed to over-look my
horrendous presentation-style, which sounded a bit like
John Peel on valium!
After several months working
on other people's stations like Radio Mercury and Radio
Corsair (my presentation style must have got a bit better
by then !), I ended up getting my own transmitter and starting
Atlanta Radio. We opened in January 1979 and finally closed
at the end of 1990. Along with this I also did several short-lived
FM pirate projects and worked for a few others as well and
from 1982 to 1989 I was in charge of the English service
of an FM station called RBL (Radio Boulogne Littoral) based
on the French Coast broadcasting
to the Kent & Sussex
coasts. We were on the air three evenings a week and had
a great line-up of guys including several Caroline presenters
like Paul Graham, Dave Richards, James Day, Dave Windsor
and Stuart Clark plus a whole bunch of guys who ended up
having long careers in ILR like Tim Stewart, Mark Zeall
and Pete Simester. One of our jocks, Jeff Johnson, eventually
became Head Of Music on Radio One under his real name Jeff
Working with those guys taught
me a lot and eventually, in the early 90's, I had a period
of being self-employed and it gave me a chance to combine
this with working in professional radio for a few years,
firstly on Invicta FM & Invicta Supergold and then on
Medway FM. But I've always had a very well paid job in "the
real world" and so it's never been an option to do
full-time professional radio.
When did you first
join Caroline and why ?
Before Caroline I was
involved with EKR, its predecessor on satellite from the
Maidstone Studios. I was with EKR right from the very first
test transmissions and, as I had done a lot on the music
side to get the station on air, I was given the privilege
of being the first voice on EKR at the very start of the
satellite test transmissions.
I stayed until the end and
built the music library and programmed the music on the
station throughout its life.
Just before EKR closed, Caroline
had been renting satellite air-time from them on Sundays.
The Caroline team of Johnny Lewis, Steve Conway, Nigel Harris
and Dave Foster asked me to join them at the end of EKR
and to continue providing the music and programming it.
I jumped at the chance, having
been a Caroline fan for several decades.
Tell us about your
work on the music side of the station?
Well, at the start of Caroline
on satellite from Maidstone in early 1999, I looked after
the music on Caroline. As I had built the EKR music library,
I somehow inherited it at the end of EKR. This became Caroline’s
music library for the first few years on satellite. I steered
the station onto an adult rock type format, but always with
a loose touch. At the start of the satellite service, I
was programming the station (as I had done at EKR) as well
as providing the music and Johnny Lewis asked me to make
it just a little to the pop-side of where EKR was placed,
musically. So, I dropped some of the heavier stuff and lightened
it a little.
After three years or so,
there was a bit of a change-round at the time of the switch
from analogue to digital satellite. The result was that
I ended up not being involved in the music when Caroline
returned to satellite after a short break. By this time
it was using a digital playout system, with all music on
However, a few years later,
the circle came around again and I ended up inheriting the
music programming role again for a few years. During this
time, myself and Dave Foster set about cleaning out the
main library that had been infested with “Bob The Builder”
and other horrors and turning it back into an adult music
station ! We added thousands of songs and culled thousands
as well. The result is the core library that has been used
on Caroline for the past five years or so.
Around eighteen months ago,
I decided to drop out of the day to day involvement in the
music in order to get my “Stafford’s World” show idea of
the ground. At that time, I handed the music over to Pat
Edison. Luckily, Pat has kept the vast majority of the core
library and of course added the new songs you hear every
What is the best and
worst thing about radio today?
The best thing about radio
today is without a doubt internet radio. At this moment,
anyone can start a station and do exactly what they want,
even if it’s only to an audience of 20 people. The only
thing I really get “a buzz” out of radio-wise these days
is stuff on internet radio, be it a small independent station
from the UK or a big station in Australia or the US. With
the advent of wi-fi internet radios and internet radio on
3G phones, it’s a definite growth area.
As far as Caroline is concerned,
I see it as a “double-edged-sword”. We benefit by having
listeners from around the world tuning in, but a lot of
our listeners are radio enthusiasts and they now have much
The worst thing about radio
today is that the big radio groups have taken the heart
and the human element out of radio. Each station is a clone
of the next. The typical ILR station plays around 500 songs
and is happy to repeat the same handful of worn-out classics
until the world ends. It’s “Groundhog Day Radio”!
What are your favourite
bands or groups?
I have an incredibly low
boredom threshold, when it comes to music. My favourite
artists and songs are ever changing. I always want to discover
something new, be it brand new music or a lost classic.
I’m still excited by being the first to play a song that
goes on months later to be a monster hit.
I’m a big fan of the singer
songwriter side of music. Bruce Springsteen probably sits
at the top of the pile for me and I’ve been into his music
since Caroline we’re playing his original of “Blinded By
The Light” back in 1973 or so.
What do you do in your
Spare time, what's that!
I have a senior management job and work long hours at times
and also have to travel a long way to work, that leaves
just enough spare time to prepare for and present my radio