Steve Conway

 Interview by Roland Beaney in October 2011

This month's interview is with Steve Conway who was on board the Ross Revenge when it went aground onto the Goodwin Sands. He has been back on the station for some time now and presents a weekly show on Monday afternoons from 6pm to 9pm.

Where and when were you born?- Dublin, Ireland, in 1964 Ė Iím the same age as The Lady herself.

Where do you live now? - Iím now back home in Dublin after 16 years living in the UK (or on a ship just off it!)

What is your favourite part of the Country? - I loved many places in the UK while I lived there. London has so much to offer, and Surbiton, where I was based, was a lovely place. I also adore the Romney Marsh and the old town of Rye in East Sussex, as well as the bleak and forbidding Dungeness area a few miles away.

How did you get into radio? -Thatís a very long story Ė in fact I wrote a book about it (Shiprocked) Ė but briefly I got involved in a land based rock station in London, and from there moved to Caroline.

When did you first join Caroline? - Tuesday 24th February 1987. The day is still etched on my memory. We were still at the old location in the Knock Deep at that time, and we moved to the Falls Head later that year.

What was it like to be doing shows for Caroline again?- Amazing. Iíve left and come back to Caroline many times over the years, and it is always like coming home.

How did you feel when you returned to the Ross Revenge recently?- Energised. There is something that happens when you put a whole bunch of people on a ship together with a radio transmitter Ė a kind of magic. Although all the doorways and corridors seemed smaller than I remembered, the ship must have shrunk, because I couldnít possibly have got bigger . .

What other radio stations have you been involved with? - Iíve just finished 11 very happy years presenting on Phantom 105.2, an alternative rock station in Dublin. I was with them in their pirate days, and stayed with Phantom when it got a full commercial licence back in 2006. A truly great station, and itís opened my mind to a whole lot of new music over the years. Iím also a presenter on Radio Seagull in The Netherlands. Over the years Iíve been on other stations for shorter periods, including ABC in Dublin and Susy Radio in Surrey.

What are your earliest memories of Caroline? - My brother used to listen in the 70s, so I grew up with Mi Amigo and Susi Waffles commercials!

What's your favourite station other than Caroline? - Excluding ones I work on myself (I would be biased) Iíll have to nominate BBC Radio 4 Ė the quality of the current affairs and documentaries there is worth the licence fee on its own.

Who is the most famous person that you have met? - Hmmm. Well Iíve sold Hula-Hoops to Joan Armatrading (she came into a garage in Surbiton I was working at), accidently swore in front of Pope John Paul II (best leave that one undiscussed), Cyndi Lauperís sock once brushed past my face (she took them off and threw them into the audience at a gig) and I was waved at once by Margaret Thatcher.

Who do you particularly remember in your offshore days?- Nigel Harris, he was a star and one of the nicest people you could be around. Neil Gates, who stood on the bridge with me on the Goodwin Sands both of us thinking we were about to die. There were so many others too, canít name them all.

What about the relationship with your Dutch shipmates? - I was great having the Dutch on board Ė they brought a welcome touch of internationalism to what was otherwise a very quiet existence.

What is the best and worst thing about radio today? - The sheer quantity of radio today is wonderful, and the opportunities for getting involved are much more plentiful than in the old days. As for the worst, the increasing fad of giving shows to celebrities with no radio background.

How much music freedom do you have on Caroline? - Complete freedom within the general ethos of the station, which is how it should be. Itís an album station, all of the last 5 decades have to be given airtime, but within those guidelines, the choice is my own. I work hard to ensure Iím not repeating myself in my music choices, and to get hold of interesting new releases for the shows.

What's the most embarrassing or funny thing that's happened to you? - For that youíll have to wait for my second book Ė due out February 2012.

Who would you like to get stuck with on a desert Island?- Myself. I very much enjoy my own company and would be quite happy to be shipwrecked on my own, provide I had a radio with longwave and perhaps a few books. If I had to have another person on the island, it would be Neil Gates Ė practical, a great cook, and someone I would trust with my life.

What's the most important thing that you learnt about radio?- Thatís a classified secret Ė and part of the content of my new book,due out next year. There is actually a chapter called ďThe Greatest LessonĒ and it does involve Caroline . .

What was the first record you bought?- Forever Autumn from the war of the Worlds album in 1978.

What are your favourite bands and who is your hero? -New Model Army, Greenday, Alan Parsons Project, Frank Turner, Heart.

Have you got any stories about the ghosts on the Ross Revenge? - I did have an incident on board, which could be interpreted as involving the Ross Revenge ghost. I wrote a short story about it, ďOld HauntsĒ which is published in an anthology of new Irish writing Ė ďCensus Ė Vol 1Ē available from www.severtowers.ie

What are your plans for the future? - Iíd like to live to be 1,000, but if I reached 100 Iíd consider myself pretty lucky. I plan to stay in radio until there isnít a breath left in my body to speak with.

Thank you Steve for an interesting interview.

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