Books

Book Review: 'Team, It's Only Radio' by John Myers

24 Dec 2012 at 19:01

I’m a comparative newbie to the world of radio, even though it has always fascinated me. It’s a world full of strong and eccentric personalities, very weird business practices and over-regulation. But it wasn’t always like that. In decades gone by it was even worse. In this stunning book, John Myers tells of his career in radio since the 1970s both as a presenter and businessman. It’s a book that pulls few punches. It’s a book which names names and at the end of it you are wondering how many friends Myers will have left in the industry. But its seering honesty is why it works so well. It’s one of those books you are devastated to finish. You want it to go on and on.

Myers started in local radio in the late 1970s in Cumbria. His tales of getting in at the bottom and trying to work his way up are often side-splittingly funny and anyone looking to get into radio would do well to take note of his perseverance. He spent many years at various radio stations ‘oop north’, as well as in Scotland before eventually becoming head honcho at GMG Radio, where he created a hugely successful radio operation based around the Real Radio and Smooth brands. GMG is in the process of being sold to Global, who own LBC, the radio station I present on. Myers left GMG in 2008 to travel the world and now runs the Sony Awards and Arquiva, as well as heading up the Radio Academy. He carried out reviews into both BBC national and local radio, the first at the behest of the Labour government in 2009 and the latter for the BBC itself as part of its Delivering Quality First Initiative.

To call John Myers ‘Mr Radio’ would not be an exaggeration. I’ve only met him once, but I suspect he’s a marmite character – not devoid of devout acolytes or bitter enemies. And that’s another reason to read this book. Indeed, this book should be read by every broadcast journalism student, producer, radio suit, presenter and regulator. I learnt more about radio from it than I thought possible. It’s full of anecdotes, laughter, a few tears and lessons in how to, or not to, run a radio station.

Five stars

John Myers is on Twitter @JohnMyersTeam

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Media

No More Sky News Paper Reviews

21 Dec 2012 at 20:29

Well that’s a bit of a bugger. For at least 13 years now, I have been doing newspaper reviews on Sky News, but that is about to come to an end. In January they are changing the way they do it and I would have to commit to doing both the 10.30pm and 11.30pm slots. Trouble is, I just can’t get to Osterley for the 10.30 slot, as my LBC show doesn’t finish until 10. So my partnerships with Zoe Williams and Jacqui Smith will be no more. No more on screen flirtations! I must admit I am a bit gutted at this turn of events, but there you go. But I will have one last outing on Wednesday 9 January, but after that, you’ve had your lot.

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Random Thoughts

Row the Boat

21 Dec 2012 at 19:53

Don’t laugh, but this weekend I am going to buy a rowing machine. That’s ‘row’ as in oars, not ‘row’ as in an argument generating machine. It’s a last desperate attempt to achieve some degree of fitness. I used to play a lot of sport – squash, tennis, golf. At one point in my life I became quite a ‘gym bunny’. But the life I lead at the moment means I have little time for exercise. Two full time jobs mean that by the time the weekend comes I am too knackered to do much at all. I hate running. It seems so futile and boring. Swimming has the same lack of appeal. But I know I have got to exercise if I am to combat diabetes, so my new year’s resolution is to use the rowing machine at least three times a week, and not stop after the initial few weeks. I know I can lose weight again because I have done it before. But this time I really do have to keep the weight off permanently otherwise instead of taking pills to fight the diabetes, I will have to inject insulin every day. And that is something I really do not want to face!

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Quote of the Day

Theodore Dalrymple

18 Dec 2012 at 11:31

Only the peaceful and law-abiding fear the law today

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Books

Total Politics Becomes Part of Dods

17 Dec 2012 at 17:13

Four and a half years ago we launched Total Politics magazine. Most people thought it would sink without trace. Who would buy a political lifestyle magazine, let alone advertise it, sneered the cynics. Well, today the magazine was sold to Dods. For me it’s a bittersweet moment as I have decided not to travel with it. The deal makes total business sense and will enable the magazine to grow in a way that might not have been possible otherwise, but I’d be lying if I said I won’t miss it. Shane Greer and Ben Duckworth and their team will be moving to Dods head office off Victoria Street in the new year, and Shane will be overseeing not just TP but a newly created division of Dods. I, meanwhile, will stay behind at Westminster Tower and continue to look after Biteback Publishing, which is not part of the deal. In some ways today marks the end of an era, but also the beginning of a new one. I wish everyone at TP well with their new owners, and look forward to another year of expansion for Biteback Publishing. This year we have published 127 books, a phenomenal achievement. And we have some great titles lines up next year, as you will soon discover!

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Personal

My Sartorial Elegance

13 Dec 2012 at 21:33

Just got this email from an LBC listener…

Hello Iain,
If there was an award for the most smartily dressed man on sky news press review, you would win in by a country mile. Every week you are always immaculately dressed in your tie and suit and you put to shame alot of other male presenters who I wont name but appear on sky press review in their scruffy jackets,jeans and open top shirts and in some cases wearing cowboy boots,i think you should accept this compliment with grace. Stuart from west London.

I do Stuart, I do. Can’t say I have ever had a compliment for my sartorial elegance before, And you’re not surprised, are you?!

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Policy

The Compassion of Angels

11 Dec 2012 at 22:17

Ann Clwyd came on my programme for an hour tonight to talk about the treatment her husband received in hospital in Cardiff in the weeks before he died. She moved many to tears last week in PMQs when she asked David Cameron why so many nurses lacked compassion nowadays. Her voice quavered with emotion. It reminded me of the terrible time my family went through when my mother was in Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge earlier this year. I wanted to complain about the lack of care and lack of compassion but by the time the funeral was over to be quite honest I couldn’t bear it. I didn’t want to relive those hours all over again. I now feel ashamed. I talked about it a bit on the radio, but thought most people would think I was being unkind to poor, overworked nurses. Ann Clwyd, though, was made of sterner stuff and was far braver than I was. She has unwittingly hit on something though, judging by her postbag and those who called my show tonight. Jeremy Hunt has asked to see her next week to discuss the issue. No one is saying all nurses lack compassion. Far from it. But too many do. Is it systemic? Has it got something to do with training and the fact that all nurses are now graduates? Is it lack of support or staff numbers? I don’t know. But what I do know is that this issue is becoming a real problem and needs to be tackled by NHS managers before it gets out of control.

So good luck to Ann Clwyd. She’s been a tenacious campaigner on many issues in the past and I hope she gets somewhere with this.

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Personal

Tragedy in Cromer

8 Dec 2012 at 17:10

Like many in North Norfolk I remain in shock, after hearing of the tragedy which unfolded last Sunday in Cromer, when the former mayor Keith Johnson shot his wife and then took his own life. You never think something like this will happen to someone you know. But Keith and Andrea Johnson were known to virtually everyone in Cromer and were both liked and respected. Keith had given much of his life to serving the local community and did a brilliant job as mayor of Cromer between 1997 and 2004. I got to know them both just before they got married in 2004 and it was clear they were devoted to each other. Andrea had a brilliant sense of humour and she was very supportive to me when I was the parliamentary candidate in the constituency, as was Keith. I remember when Michael Howard visited Cromer and a local fisherman accosted the then Tory leader in the street about the fact that Cromer didn’t want a candidate who was gay. Later that day Keith and Andrea took me aside and assured me that this man didn’t speak for anyone but himself and that I shouldn’t take any notice of his bigotry. Keith was a man who held very traditional values, but blind to prejudice.

Only six months ago Keith took over as leader of North Norfolk District Council. After the chaotic and often shambolic regime of his predecessor he had a difficult task ahead of him, but in a very short time he had united the ruling Tory group and gained the respect of the council officers. Keith was a reluctant leader, but reluctant leaders who are not overburdened by ambition often prove to be the best sort.

Nearly a week on from the tragic events in Compit Hills mystery still defines what happened. Inevitably there will be much speculation about what lay behind Sunday’s events. Few of us can comprehend how anyone could be driven to shoot the person they love, and perhaps we will never know the reason. In fact, part of me hopes we never do, because some things deserve to be kept private. The national papers have shown a ghoulish fascination with the deaths of Keith and Andrea. I understand why, but part of discomforts me.
The shock to a very close community will continue to reverberate for a long time to come, especially on the Compit Hills estate. I hope people don’t keep their feelings to themselves. Talking to each other is often the best antidote to shock.

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Humour/Satire

The Prime Minister is on the Line

8 Dec 2012 at 14:51

So when you pick up the phone and the person say “Number 10 Switchboard here, can I put you through to the Prime Minister?” do you say…

A) Can you hold on a minute while I get dressed?
B) Remind me of his name again?
C) If you really must
D) Only if he’s offering a peerage
E) He really must stop ringing me like this
F) Is he in the situation room?
G) Thank you very much

This was the dilemma I faced at 10am this morning. You can guess which one I went for.

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UK Politics

Should We Really Buy Shares in George Osborne and Sell Balls?

7 Dec 2012 at 17:11

James Forsyth wrote in last week’s Spectator that now was the time to buy shares in George Osborne. I mentioned this to a Tory MP this morning, a mere 48 hours after the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement. “Yes,” he said. “They’ve risen from 2p to 4p.” Cuttingly cruel. It is true to say that Osborne was saved, at least in part, by the shambolic Commons performance of the Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls. His reply to the Autumn Statement was all over the place, something which he had the good grace to admit later. However, he blamed his stammer for what happened. I admire Ed Balls for overcoming a stammer. In his big set piece speeches I have never seen much sign of it, and he is capable of delivering real barnstormers. It seemed to me that Balls’ performance was less down to a re-emergence of a stammer but more to a lack of preparation and being caught wrong-footed. This came on the back of a very weak showing from Ed Miliband at PMQs. Labour MPs were mainly looking at their feet. When their man has done well, they generally take to Twitter to trumpet their leader’s performance. On Wednesday Labour MPs maintained a Twitter silence for quite some time after PMQS and the end of Ed Balls’s speech. And then, as one, they started to complain about those nasty Tories braying at Ed Balls because of his stammer. Clearly the word had gone out that this was how to turn disaster into a triumph. It didn’t really work. For the first time, Bruiser Balls looked politically vulnerable.

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