I returned to work that afternoon and began immediately making plans to do a demo tape and get it to Colin Walters at Piccadilly. I knew exactly what I wanted to do on a demo but I really didn’t have the equipment to put it together. I phoned up a colleague of mine with the stuff I needed and the following Saturday we spent the day putting the tape together. When we had finished making it I was delighted with the sound. Now all I needed to do was to get it edited and down to about 10 minutes.
I phoned another pal of mine Pete Smith who had an open ended tape machine and he agreed to listen to the tape and to do whatever was required. It was over to his house where he performed his magic and the tape was down to 10 minutes and sounding good. If Colin Walters and Piccadilly was to refuse this then I didn’t know what I would do.
I spent most of Sunday listening to the tape and playing it for anyone who would listen. I then composed a letter to accompany the tape. It was at this point that I decided to duplicate the tape and send a copy to Radio 1 and one to BBC Radio Merseyside. I had done a small amount of presentation on Merseyside with Brian Smart on his soul show and I thought that I might stand a chance.
There was some news around the industry that Radio 1 was putting together a dance show to be broadcast from Manchester and their producer in the North West was looking for tapes. His name was Tony Hale. I composed letters to all three stations and on Monday morning, the letters were dispatched and I began to wait.
From the 1984 IBA Handbook
MANCHESTER – Piccadilly Radio, 127 – 131 The Piazza, Piccadilly Plaza, Manchester. M1 4AW. Tel 0161 236 9913
Directors:- N Quick ( Chairman); P T Birch (Vice Chairman/Chief Executive); Colin Walters (Managing Director); A Blond; Sir Paul Bran; S Friedlan; A Hopcraft; Mrs M E Mason D H May; I M Peacock; J H Perrow; Mar J Taylor; Lord Winstanley
Senior Executives:- Bert Tatlock (Sales Controller); G Jones (Company Secretary); S Barnes (Chief Engineer); T Ingham (Programme Controller)
Senior Staff:- M Briscoe (Head of News); B Beech (Promotions); J Hancock (Current Affairs); Liz Bracken (Commercial Traffic); M Winson (OBs).
261 METRES (1152kHz), VHF 97.0 MHz AIR DATE 2.4.74
Amazingly, I didn’t have long to wait. Three days later the postman delivered the first of the replies. It was from Radio 1. I didn’t so much read the letter as read the line that said please call my secretary and make an appointment. I could not believe it. The following day I received two letters, the first from Piccadilly said please call my secretary for an appointment. The second from Radio Merseyside said thank you but there were not interested. I put that to one side and for the next few hours was unable to put down the one from Radio 1 and the one from Piccadilly.
I had a letter in my hand from Colin Walters and one from Tony Hale. These were two of the most influential individuals in radio in Manchester and both wanted to see me. Who would I call first? Who would I see first?
To be honest I can’t remember which I called first or how the appointments fell, but it was amazing as one day I would be at Radio 1 the next at Piccadilly. In my own mind I had decided that if both offered me a job I would definitely pick Radio 1 above Piccadilly. After all Radio 1 was a national station. Because of this I told Tony Hale about the interviews at Piccadilly but I didn’t tell Colin Walters that I was also talking to Radio 1.
One of the most amazing days I remember was walking in to the reception at Piccadilly to be informed by the receptionist Pat [a legend in North West radio], that there was a message for me. She handed me the note and I did not recognise the name or the number. It said phone immediately. Pat said I could use the reception phone and I dialled. The voice at the other end said “This is the BBC”. I then realised that the call was from Tony Hale’s secretary Michelle. When I was put through she simply said “Tony just wants to make sure you weren’t going to sign anything at Piccadilly” I replied that I would not.
I don’t know if Pat noticed anything but that was probably the first time in my life that I ever screamed quietly. I went in to see Colin Walters and we had the usual conversation. “Can you come in and do another demo? There’s nothing at the moment, but I think we may be able to use you in the future…” Little did he know what had just gone on in reception.
For the next few days I would be making demos at Piccadilly going to meetings at the BBC with Tony Hale and, to put it mildly, I was in heaven. The one thing was that I could not tell anyone. All of this was confidential.
After making a demo, infront of a live audience for Radio 1, Tony Hale called me in and said he was very happy with what I was doing and they wanted to use me to present the show. I could not believe it. Radio 1 was by far the biggest radio station in the country and I was going to be doing a show for them.
Amazingly, the show which was going out on a Saturday night, would follow the Andy Peebles show. This was the reason he had gone to Radio 1. All the time I had believed that Peebles leaving Piccadilly Radio would open up the door at Picc for me, instead we would both be working for Radio 1 at the same time.
I received a contract from the BBC accounts department for the first 4 shows. Now I truly was in heaven. Although this was still confidential, there would be a press launch when everything would be announced.
Colin Walters hadn’t phoned me for a couple of weeks, but he was going to get the shock of his life when that news broke; but hey that’s life.
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