On Saturday afternoon I had gone through my CD bag and taken out all of my ‘Coming to Faith’ features.
‘Coming to Faith’ is a series of features I have run on the programme for the past few years and it is as it says on the pack. Every Sunday morning we have a main guest on the programme and we always ask then the same question…How did you come to Faith?
A few weeks ago I had decided to rest that feature and return to our Bible readings and that was my reason for taking them out of the CD bag.
Also on Saturday, I found out that we would be interviewing Rabbi Brian Fox on Sunday Breakfast. Rabbi Fox has been a friend of the programme for many years presenting a regular ‘Thought for the Week’ for us.
A couple of years ago Rabbi Fox bought in another Rabbi, Rabbi Danny Schiff to be interviewed. I have to tell you, I have interviewed hundreds of people but he was one of the most impressive interviewees. Further to that his ‘Coming to Faith’ was one of the best ever. It was a joy to interview him and I have never forgotten what a great guy he was.
The end of each ‘Coming to Faith’ feature includes a song chosen by me. For Rabbi Schiff I chose, I look to you by Whitney Houston, one of my favourite songs in recent years, and one which we have played over and over since its release.
I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could get Rabbi Schiff to come on the phone from Israel to say a few words about Rabbi Fox on this his final interview with us. You see Rabbi Fox was making Aliah which means he was going to live in the land of Israel. My mind went into overdrive. The only way to get in touch with Rabbi Schiff was by e-mail which I found on line. The second problem was that Saturday is the Sabbath for Jews and there was no way he was going to check his e-mail before midnight…if then.
However I wrote the e-mail with an apology for sending it on the Sabbath. I was expecting his reply about midnight our time…after the Sabbath. How wrong was I? Within 10 minutes I had a reply from Rabbi Schiff saying he would love to do it. The reason he was able to answer so quickly was that he was in Melbourne, Australia and the Sabbath had already passed. When I responded, I included a copy of his ‘Coming to Faith’ which he had never heard. In order to lessen the download time I curtailed the song.
So I arrive in the studio to find that I did not have a single Whitney Houston track in my bag.
When Studio Producer Rebecca Kirkby and Senior Producer Lawrence Mann arrived I quickly told them the tracks I wanted to play and they were able to download them from the BBC site. I was then able to play I look to you; Jesus loves me and Saving all my love for you.
When playing Saving all my love for you I mentioned that I would tell my story of that song before the end of the programme. Furthermore, knowing that I look to you was on the end of the Coming to Faith I knew that I just had to play that specific feature today.
I downloaded the feature from my sent items and Lawrence was able to mix the full track back in. We spoke to Rabbi Fox right on time and there on the end of the phone was Rabbi Schiff live from Australia, saying wonderful things about him. At the end I played Rabbi Schiff’ Coming to Faith and Rabbi Fox was nearly in tears. It was a great moment for Sunday Breakfast.
|Listen to Rabbi Danny SCHIFF’S‘’Coming to Faith’ here.|
And so onto my Whitney Houston story.
Now I want to make it clear that I have never met Whitney Houston and despite having interviewed hundreds of people as I say above, including Barry White, the Jacksons with Michael, Patti Austin, Earth Wind & Fire etc. etc. etc, I have never had the pleasure of interviewing Whitney Houston.
My story begins back in 1985 and I am presenting the ‘Takin’ care of Business’ programme on Piccadilly Radio. It truly was one of the best jobs on the radio and I was lovin’ it. I picked up a new track from a new artist called Whitney Houston. It was called Saving all my love for you. I was bowled over. It was wonderful and, as a recent facebook message reminded me, I immediately played it twice.
On the spot I predicted that this was going to be the Christmas Number 1 for that year.
I played the track every week in the run-up to Christmas. There was just something about that piece of music and the glorious voice that Whitney had. This was going to be a game changer. In the past there were soul music artists who made great music but somehow this was different. It had everything.
This song was, in my opinion, going to change the way black music would be viewed.
The song steadily climbed the Independent Radio (IR) chart until the week leading up to Christmas. The IR chart was compiled by a very good friend of mine, Tony Hale at Capital Radio and was faxed, to us as usual on a Friday evening under strict embargo until it was broadcast live on Sunday afternoon between 5 & 7. The Chart Show would be followed by ‘Takin’ Care of Business.
The fax confirmed what I had been predicting all these weeks. Saving all my love was going to be the Christmas Number 1. I could not wait for Sunday evening.
Now some of my recollections about that Sunday evening could be a bit blurred but let me tell you how it went. I think it was Chris Buckley who was the technical operator that evening and he was overseeing the Chart broadcast which was networked from London. We get to number two in the chart and Whitney Houston is played. The number 1 song is Merry Christmas every one by Shakin’ Stevens.
I am beside myself with rage.
The Chart show ends…the news is read, I play my jingle, put my first song on and I am in tears. I just knew that this was the end of my glorious 8 year career with Piccadilly Radio. A job I had wanted from the day the station was launched.
The first record ends and I am unable to speak so I play another song, then another. After about 4 or 5 songs the emergency phone rings and it is my boss Colin Walters wanting to know why I am not speaking. I told him there and then that I could not continue to work here. I suggested that he got another presenter in to finish the show.
He agreed (I cannot remember who it was who came in to take over) and asked me to sleep on it and come in on the Monday morning to talk it over. He also said he would make some enquiries to find out what had happened to the chart.
I left the station still in tears and went home to my wife and 16 month old daughter. My wife was mad as hell; how could I give up that job, what was I going to do for money? I had no idea but I did know I could no longer work there. When I explained to her what had happened and she realized that I was not going to change my mind, she totally supported my stand.
I went in to see Colin Walters on the Monday and he had been told by Capital Radio that they had taken Saturday’s sales into account and that was why the Number 1 was changed. I did not buy it. I was not going to change my mind. They had never changed the Chart show in all the previous months that it had been broadcast. He asked me if I would do another 4 shows and that was what my contract required, and it would also give him time to find someone else. I agreed.
Four weeks later I present my final show with everyone asking why I was leaving. My standard reply was that they would have to read my memoirs.
Until the death of Whitney Houston this Sunday I have never told that story in public.
Back then I just knew Whitney Houston was going to change the world of music and black music in particular. I am delighted to say that, in my opinion, she did.
Rest ye well Whitney Houston, your work on earth is done!
Be the first to write a comment.