I remember when I first started in radio I landed a gig at Oak FM. I was really excited to get the job. I was a radio DJ! Brilliant. They paid me £10k a year, self employed and I thought I'd made it.
I moved in with a bloke called Andy Smith who had a room going to rent. The station itself was quite a small station and I was doing evenings. Well, 6pm - 12 midnight. I also had to programme the overnights and do some other things during the day. I couldn't afford a car so I used to go to and from work on my little push bike locking up the building as I left.
They had a promotional campaign where they stuck up pictures of the new DJs in cinemas and around the area. This was really effective and it meant that people would come up to you in the street and recognise you. I didn't know how to deal with this at all and it gave me a lifelong dislike of DJ promo shots. Not because they'd say anything bad but just because it's impossible for me to relax in that situation.
"Hey! You're a radio DJ!"
"Um.. uh, yeh. Hello."
"Will you sign my bus ticket?"
Nowadays I'm a lot more relaxed about these things but back then it was a bit of a head f#ck.
As regards radio I really didn't have a clue. I'd come straight from the world of student radio and had no idea that in the commercial radio world too much talking was considered a bad thing. I'd banter away take calls and generally mess about, for 6 hours every night. It wasn't the best show in the world. It wasn't a very happy time either. There was an enormous ammount of pressure in the building as people watched the promises that a new station brings to a local area turn into foul smelling bullsh#t. I seem to absorb these things like a sponge and my weight ballooned as I ate take away every night comfort eating my way through an awful experience.
I couldn't understand why I didn't gel with anyone (apart from one or two) there and the whole thing seemed to be spiralling out of control. Added to that I had no confidence in my own abilities. As far as I was concerned I was the worst DJ ever to hit the airwaves. I'd listen to other "super hot jocks" and feel like the most useless c#nt in the world.
After three months I got fired as they overhauled the entire station resuffling everything. It was an immense relief. I couldn't wait to get home and leave this awful industry I'd somehow gotten involved in.
Things picked up a week later when I got a gig at The Bay in Lancaster where I actually did some good radio and got a big audience. The moral of the story is that sometimes bad things are actually good for you in the long run. No matter how bad things get in my career, and I've had rough patches since, I always think to myself, "well at least I'm not back at Oak FM".