Well, it’s that time of year where you open an envelope on A-Level/GCSE results day to determine your fate.
I remember both of the days fondly; going down to my school to pick up the piece of paper that decided my next stage of life, and low and behold, I hadn’t done that well. It wasn’t surprising really when I had spent most of my revision time playing football and sitting on the beach. At the time, it seemed like the right thing to do. In hindsight I probably should have studied more.
Panicking wasn’t my first point of call though. I managed to scrape into the University of Bolton. A place which helped me to grow up pretty quickly and find out who I really was. Incidentally, it wasn’t even radio, or anything near to media, that I chose to study. It was actually computing. It was a lazy option really; I had studied it at GCSE and at A-Level and assumed this was the natural path that I should be taking.
I stuck it out for about a year, walking over exams where they had practically given you the answer and sitting in lectures just one day a week. In my spare time I wrote course work and worked in one of the local bars, serving people into the twilight hours in order to buy food and spend it on what I poured the punters by night. I quit university after finding myself getting bored with the monotone and bland life that I was leading, so I went back to my home in Essex to become a postman while I tried to work out what I should do.
I had always wanted to be in radio. I remember dancing around the room to ‘Top of The Pops’ and pretending to run in front of the TV while watching ‘Whitney Houston’s – I Will Always Love You’ for weeks on end. It became more of a running joke (if you pardon the pun) and to this day I still don’t know why I did that. I also have fond memories of going to the Radio 1 roadshow in Clacton every year, watching Simon Mayo ask the crowd to yell “MAYO” at the end of him trying to impersonate the Outhere Brothers hit at the time: ‘Boom Boom Boom’.
The one thing that always got my pulse racing though was the sound of live radio. I was one of those kids who used to phone local radio shows to try and win competitions (I did win, but only once – it was tickets to see Mike Bassett: England Manager at the local cinema. I actually forgot to go, but I won!), but specifically, I loved sitting down on a Sunday afternoon and listening to Mark Goodier rattle off the singles chart at what seemed like a million miles an hour. It wasn’t so much what he was playing that interested me, but how he was saying things and what made the show flow together.
From there I went on and discovered Chris Evans, Sara Cox, Scott Mills and Chris Moyles and so many more great radio broadcasters and shows. I was absolutely hooked.
I did try in my younger days to get into the radio industry, but was knocked back several times because of my tender age. I was lucky enough to fall on my feet though, when one day I was offered the chance by a radio station to go and sort out their music database. I had done things for them in the past when they were operating as a local television and radio production company. I would go in when ever I could and help out with whatever they would let me touch. When they offered me the chance to do ‘something’ I was overjoyed. It was the lifeline into what I wanted to do and a real chance of getting some proper experience.
Eventually they offered me a full time position, and since that day I have grasped the dream tightly and never looked back. I now have the pleasure of working with some of the greatest, funniest, cleverest and talented people ever to grace the radio airwaves and have learned from them everything that I could, and adapted it into my own way to further myself. I’m now lucky enough to produce programmes on a national, local and international level, run outside broadcasts and write and produce shows on a variety of topics.
Whatever you got in your GCSE’s or A-Levels, don’t worry about a thing. Having passion for what you want to do in life is worth a million times more than a piece of paper with a letter on it.
(This post was originally written in 2012 for The Pips)