Eight years on from doing my first radio show, I still haven’t learnt from my time on the airwaves. There are some people listening. Not so much in the hospital radio days but it’s been steadily building toward world domination over the years and yet, when I’m sat on my own, staring in to a screen and talking in to a microphone, I frequently forget that someone, somewhere, is listening to my drivel.
I’d always been used to performing in front of a crowd, prior to the radio career, whether it was in bands or doing comedy. I’d always been able to instantly tell how things were going by the number of people quietly heading for the exit door. But radio is very different. It’s largely anonymous. You get texts, tweets and the odd seagull peering through the window but aside from that, you never get that instant laugh, groan and heckle, without seeing a listeners face. You get a sense on a live phone call but you still can’t see that face. It’s all imaginary. Which of course, is amazing and part of the magic of radio but it’s also at times, baffling, to be frank. You don’t know how it’s going.
And so it goes. I just rattle on, oblivious to who’s listening and not always sure what I’m saying. But people constantly remind me, that what I say, can be heard and I often suffer the consequences.
For example, I interviewed a man doing Worthing birdman a few years ago (jumping off the pier, pretending to fly) and at some point I said, ‘that sounds fun.’ And that was all it took. Within minutes I had a charity calling the studio asking me to do the jump for them. What could I say? I did it, despite my chronic vertigo and raised lots of money for charity. Hoorah. All good for everyone concerned but I learnt there and then, that everything I said on the radio, could have repercussions. I told myself to rein it in. Be a bit more aware of what I’m saying. Remember that somewhere, someone is listening to me and quite possibly, taking me quite seriously. Perhaps even believing what I say.
I thought I’d learnt my listen. And then I interviewed the woman commentating on the Brighton Marathon for Channel 4 back in April. I think you know what’s coming. I think I said something along the lines of, ‘it inspires me every year.’ Not, ‘I really want to run myself in to the ground.’ Or, ‘I quite fancy risking a heart attack.’ No, all I said was that having commentated on the race for the radio for the last four years, I had found it an inspiring event. That’s all.
In radio terms, that’s a red rag to a bull. Within minutes, a charity was on the phone, ‘would you like run for us next year Guy?’ Again, I was put on the spot. It would be an amazing thing to achieve but what about all the training and healthy living I have to do between now and April 2015? How will I cope with Christmas without being drunk throughout the month of December?
Anyway, all this is irrelevant. I’ve signed up and I’ve started to train (cutting down on cakes). But I will no longer be talking between songs on my radio show. I’ll be there but there will be just gaps and awkward silences either side of Rihanna, just so I’m not doing a naked bungee jump this time next year.
Oh shit, the phones going…..