Radio Ga Ga
10:18: I always thought having a shower at work would be a brilliant perk to any job, especially in London. Give you a chance to wash the grime and stink off, even if you haven’t run a mile in the sun and endured a hot moving sweat box. You just don’t count on feeling dirty and grimy after coming out of a daily meeting with the management. Only half an hour ago I was cleansed and fresh. Now I just feel like I’d just been showered in the faecal waste of that life-size celebrity chef experiment. But not because of what you might expect. As I suspected all the sordid details from the previous night (including a couple of fictitious ones) were now in the public domain for everyone to scrutinise, criticise and possibly masturbate over. That includes my overtly explicit three in a bed romp with two of the latest glamour models riding their fifteen minutes of fame. I have a chance to glance at the story. I suppose two thirds of it is true. I get several congratulatory slaps on the back from various colleagues, all male save one who according to our breakfast show DJ Marcus Collins “likes to walk on both sides, if yer know what I mean”. Naturally he thinks it’s cool. I just think it’s greedy!
David Prowse is our station controller - a dull overbearing man who shares the walk and the actor-who-played-him name of Darth Vader. A shudder roles down my spine as I make the connection to my dream. He doesn’t think my latest escapades reflect well on the station but he’s decided it’s pointless to care anymore. He’s on his way back to his native Australia in a couple of months. He’s not going to be missed. He was the one who brought in all the recent changes and extra rules. Not at all his fault, he was just doing his job. Still, everyone hates a messenger.
He congratulates us on another job well done last night - another successful winner’s party, this time at the Paradigm nightclub just by Green Park tube station. Ten listeners had won the chance to head off for a seven-day, all expense paid trip for two to Hawaii – all they had to do was show up at the re-launch of the club and play some games to see who would win. Winners and their families showed up, a few Z-list celebrities, some glamour models. Suzy was invited but didn’t turn up. It was a big event for the station. Lots of photos were taken for the website. It even made it in to the local and national papers. Everyone looks at me, though their eyes don’t carry messages of thanks. More congratulatory back slaps mixed in with stares of feminine disapproval. I can’t blame them. Darth Dullard tells us to check out the video that’s on the station website and to make sure we mention the content on all of our shows. “We need to generate as much traffic to the website as possible from this”. That’s what radio is about these days; figures - whether its website traffic, budgets, listener-ship, number of songs per hour, or the DJ’s personal bane: sales. Since David came in with the restructuring any concern about show content has been thrown further out the window unless it can be used to sell something. It’s depressing really. It makes it really hard for us to justify pissing around and having fun!
A couple more items before we’re finished. We’re getting another thirty seconds of ads in each ad break; we need to play one more song each hour. None of the presenting or production team say a word, but their sighs and slumping shoulders show their dismay. I’m even more thankful now that I’m not here next week. It’s no fun anymore.
* * *
Once the meetings are over and the water-cooler chats over my latest gossip-worthy escapades have finished its back to preparing the show. Its half past ten, and we go on air at three. So many people, including Dad can’t fathom why I start so early, or seem to believe that so much work goes in to the show. “You just sound like you make it up as you go along” he always says. To be honest that’s the best compliment Dad’s ever given me. It’s supposed to sound like that – impromptu, natural. Like a flowing conversation. That’s how it was when I first started. But with all the new rules and restrictions coming in a lot more needs to be planned. And judging by today’s news we’ll be dropping two songs every hour just so I can say a few words.
I talk to Emma about my idea for a parody on Funk-Daddy’s latest (s)hit tune. If I’m honest, Emma Jacobs is the main reason the show has done so well. She’s the producer. She filters through all the unbearable amounts of crap that spew out of my mind and picks out all the keys ideas. She makes me sound good – living proof of the phrase behind every great man is a greater woman. You wouldn’t know it looking at her. She’s slight, a pinch over five foot. Thin too, with a physique more fitting to a ten year old boy with short black hair to match. But with the temperament of a jealous Viking maiden who’s just discovered her intended has cheated on her with her sister, she’s not the kind of person you piss off without developing a habit of sleeping with one eye open!. If you ever meet her please always have these two snippets of advice in the back of your head – one; never argue and two; never let her have more than one shot of Sambucca.
She likes the idea and we come up with some more lyrics. She suggests we do it in the voice of a mid-forties truck-driver stopping off at a greasy spoon for his second cooked breakfast. We sprawl through the funnier news headlines and gossip columns, easily coming up with comedy tangents and observations. We find some effective yet sarcastic ways to talk about last nights winners party and our “orgasm inducing” website content. She orders me not to mention any of my more sordid stories from the night. I’m disappointed, but then I am a media whore! By the time all that is done, and we’ve devised another round of Dare The Beihr (where audience favourite and glorified tea-boy Mikey Beihr carries out increasingly embarrassing stunts for our amusement), it’s time to get down to the work. Stuff is recorded. Links and ideas are written, and then re-written to stay within the ever-stricter company guidelines. In between jobs I start going over my work emails. I reply to listeners questions, forward on some complaints to David (only three from yesterday’s show!). There’s a few invites to some key celebrity bashes coming up in the next month. I promptly say yes to them all without even checking my diary – except one; the opening of the Vantage Modelling Agency. I won’t be attending that one, given who runs it. It’s too soon. I respond in the negative and delete the email. I quickly log on to Facebook, accepting all the unsolicited “friend” requests without even paying attention to what they look like. Then a quick, uninspired status update:
Dan Shears just pooped in Marcus’ coffee mug!
It’s an immature and long-running joke. Just what our audience expects from us. Within thirty seconds nine ‘friends’ have said they ‘like’ it. It makes me wonder exactly what our audiences do with their spare time!
One final uncomfortable e-task; I go back to my Yahoo email. There’s one more Twitter follower (breaking me through the two-thousand barrier. There’s something worth mocking on the show!), Liz has forwarded me another one of her comedy emails which sends the stations anti-virus system in to a frenzied panic. That’s deleted straight away. I take a deep breath and open Lucy Bannister’s email. The change of venue is for Karim’s wedding/university reunion which has already changed twice before. First it was going to be in Bristol, where Karim has lived for the last decade with his future-other-half Brad. Brad is Bristol born-and-bred so it seemed to make sense. (Oh yeah, it’s a gay marriage, or ‘Civil Partnership’ if you want to be politically correct - an event that Marcus finds hysterical for some reason. “Yeah, Dan’s finally tying the knot this weekend.” Marcus Collins is a jackass!) But then they changed it to Bournemouth. Apparently Karim wanted to do it by the sea and Bournemouth seemed the ideal place. Then it started to get treated more like a reunion, which apparently caused a huge argument between him and Brad. That eventually settled and the last I heard it was going to be this huge deal in the towns Pavilion building, but apparently it’s changed again. It’s a group email; basic salutations from Lucy with a brief explanation about the reason for the change. Money is always a concern. Then a link to the new venues website, two x’s and a basic signature. I click on the link which takes me to The Major Hotel’s website. Everything around me goes silent and still. I double take, trying to convince myself its not, but the picture is unmistakable. The Sterling Grand, or at least what’s left of it.
“You’re going there?” Emma asks with curiosity. “What a shit hole!”
I can hardly disagree. If Dad saw this he’d probably have another heart-attack. His pride and joy, turned in to a poor mans Travelodge. Why the fuck would anyone, never mind Karim want to tie the knot there?
“Looks like there’s a fair few going then?” My producer has a great eye for detail. I take a brief glimpse at some of the other email addresses. Most of them are hard to link with anyone from University. Three-quarters will be as-yet unknown wedding guests anyway. But then there’s one that’s unmistakeable. [email protected] My face flushes red. My head starts that itchy thing I always get when I know something bad is coming. Suddenly it’s not the kind of reunion I want to attend.