One only has to have a nose around this website to know that I am far more a content provider and reporter than I am a live presenter, and the photo above of me looking especially exasperated only goes to prove it. From 2010 to 2013, I presented the Tuesday lunchtime slot at Southampton Solent University’s radio station Radio Sonar.
Although for the most part, this website is here to paint me in a positive light, I will admit that my shows were atrocious. It wasn’t a whole lot of fun to talk to myself for two hours with same few friends taunting me online with requests from ‘Wayne Kerr’, ‘Drew Peacock’, etc. I remember that when Nicki Minaj was first capturing the public’s attention, but having only read the name and not yet heard her music, I decided against playing it, because her name might not have been pronounced the way it looked.
My key issue was that I was forced to present alone, and had nothing but the playlist to work with. As a popular music orientated slot, unable to babble about a designated era or genre of music, I really needed a fellow presenter. In fact, this was very much proven during the weekly handover section of Josh and Tasha’s show. They kept calling me ‘Comedy Nick’, yet after they left for lunch, it wasn’t nearly as fun.
Student Radio Awards (November 2010)
Held every year and presented by some key figures in BBC radio presenters, this took place at the London IndigO2, to praise university radio stations. Key moments include Greg James advising that to get his job, top BBC radio presenter, you needed to ‘suck a lot of cock’, and Tim Westwood not receiving a very warm welcome, drowned out by booing. The day before, Westwood had called all students ‘revolting’ on his show, after the Millbank Riots (which I happened to be at). That year, University Radio Nottingham swept up most of the awards (yet none of the presenters were quite sure how to say ‘URN’. I still don’t know.), but Mel Lewis of Solent’s own Radio Sonar won Best Female Presenter.
Student Radio Conference (April 2011)
I travelled with the rest of the Radio Sonar crew to the University of Hertfordshire for the SRA Conference.
While the drunken ‘toga party’ that a couple of students campaigned for never surfaced, it was still chaos. Here I finally got to meet the aforementioned Tim Westwood, who in a bit of a career downturn, was handing out free condoms from a bucket . I imagine that whipping a condom out with his face on the packet made for a few bizarre scenarios, assuming that any were actually used. Students traded the coloured packets around like trading cards. I met Tim very briefly, and couldn’t resist asking what he was doing at a student event if we were so revolting. “Ha! You’re funny… and I guess you’z revoltin’ too”.
A regular feature of the conference was The Demo Factor. Students create short demos to be played to everyone, and interrupted if the four industry professionals don’t approve. Getting Peter Dickson to do the voice over was a nice touch, making it significantly more terrifying to those whose demos were chosen. If I remember correctly, only one demo was played in its entirety. Dave Gorman was interviewed and I recall that I got to ask him a question. Mine can’t have been that important, because I can’t even remember what it was. I also didn’t have the guts to approach Steve Lamacq, who was broadcasting his show live from the conference. I did however get to speak to him on his show a couple of years later.
Apparently noting that there hadn’t been enough footage focused on myself for Sonar TV’s documentary, whoever was behind the camera on the way home decided to draw on my face. I didn’t notice until we stopped at a service station on the way home. I looked in a mirror, discovered my whiskers and unconvincingly pretended that I knew that they were there all along. I didn’t even known who did it until I saw this video. Thanks MIKE. See 10:20 for my facial graffiti.
Radio Sonar 87.7FM (September 2011)
I had been presenting at the University’s radio station for several months, and shows never ran particularly smoothly. The uni probably owes the John Cage estate a lot of money for the number of times that I unintentionally ended up playing 4’33” when the computer crashed. That said, I don’t know that the station’s audience rose above single figures very often.
For Freshers Week 2011, Radio Sonar acquired a two-week FM RSL license, meaning that the station would be broadcast to local FM radios, and not just online. During my show, amidst nerves and technical hitches, it was a bit of a disaster. When my mother, having listened from her car, had no variant of “it wasn’t as bad as you think” for me, I knew that it hadn’t sounded good. I was partly happy to be ill the following week so that I didn’t have to go through that again.
I had been told that it would be listenable around the Southampton area. They weren’t lying. Out of curiosity, after a 40-minute drive back to Portsmouth, I switched on the car radio to find out what was on that frequency. It was STILL Radio Sonar. How many people had heard that show? I imagine quite a few.
SMILEcast 2013 (June 2013)
It was a real shame that it took until the end of my degree for a formula that suited me really came to fruition. It was hard work daily, but I could easily have managed this weekly. I might not have been a brilliant mainstream presenter, but I am a mean interviewer, producer and correspondent. I produced SMILEcast 2013, a daily podcast which covered the events that took place during SMILEfest, which was an annual event which united live music staged by Solent students, workshops and conferences featuring industry experts. You can listen to, and read more about the podcast here. In 2019, the event has morphed into SO:Music City, which expanded on the concept by uniting both of Southampton’s universities and dominating the city to turn it into what the Solent site refers to as “a music mecca for the south”, to “help support cultural regeneration”. I admit I’m a little jealous of the opportunities offered there, as it’s the kind of event that I would have loved to have worked with.
The podcast was presented by Sonar presenters Rebecca Rayner and Andrew Yates, and I alongside fellow students would conduct interviews. It was much like how I wish I had fallen in back when I first appeared in Tasha and Josh’s show.
Oh well. I enjoyed myself. Hopefully one day I’ll find a circumstance by which people will actually want to hear me interviewing people, as opposed to just reading it.