FORMER BBC BROADCASTER KILLS OFF BREAKFAST JOCK!
Updated: May 27, 2021
Welcome to my first blog post as I celebrate the second book in my Henry & Sparrow series.
DEAD AIR kicks off with the grisly discovery of the body of a BBC local radio breakfast show presenter, gaffer-taped to the base of a remote transmitter mast!
And who finds the body? Well… our favourite reluctant dowser, Lucas Henry, of course.
Book 2 and, of course Book 1 are available on Amazon in Kindle or Paperback versions. More info on the site.
Right then ... a little background stuff on me...
Some of you may know that earlier in my career I was, in fact, a broadcast journalist, working on a regional radio station - BBC Radio Solent - covering Hampshire, Dorset and the Isle of Wight.
I did my time compiling and presenting the ‘what’s on’ bulletins and doing live interviews out and about, from the radio car. I worked on the breakfast show as a researcher, I produced the mid-morning show and the afternoon show and I co-presented and co-produced a Sunday morning show for a year.
I absolutely LOVED it, but eventually my writing career took over and I had to leave my fellow Broadcast Journalists and the ever faithful listeners behind. I still miss them.
So once I’d made the move into adult crime fiction (after 52 books published as children’s author Ali Sparkes) it was only a matter of time before I returned to the BBC to plunder my experiences… and to have a lot of fun killing people.
But one thing I MUST MAKE CLEAR is that no presenter I ever worked with was anything like the odious DAVE PERRY at the fictional BBC Radio Wessex. Genuinely!
There are many things in DEAD AIR which are based on absolute truth, though - especially my experiences with live broadcasts from the radio car. I very nearly drove that bloody thing off Southsea Pier once, I was so angry with it.
In researching DEAD AIR, I checked back in with various BBC buddies (thanks, Rebecca Parker and Malcolm Baird!) about the technicals and of course there had been a lot of advances since I left the airwaves.
I discovered that the temperamental radio car that nearly gave me a nervous breakdown back in the late nineties has been more or less pensioned off by most stations, in favour of a sleeker fleet of VERVs (VSAT Enabled Reporter Vehicles) which use mobile phone cell technology and are much simpler to operate.
But the old radio car, with its hydraulic 25ft mast, was such an important part of my plot and my whole emotional connection with the story, I had to find a way to keep it. And I did! :)
Turns out that some stations keep hold of the old tech, to entertain visitors on station tours - including the old reel-to-reel editing machines like this…
…which I literally used, with razor blades and splicing tape, for the last couple of years in the late nineties before we moved over to digital editing. (You could mislay a bit of your edit on the floor if you weren’t careful, but I kind of loved it.)
The way radio shows are produced, guests found and booked (or ‘jacked’) and calls handled live on air is pretty much the same. And many of my BBC buddies are still in the job and as passionate as ever about live radio.
Some of them might recognise themselves in the book… but NONE of them are the inspiration for Dave Perry. I was lucky to work with a brilliant bunch while I was in radio. Some were a bit weird, but that only meant I fitted in pretty well. The listeners are still the same, I think - devoted, passionate, dependable, funny, annoying, brilliant, exasperating and given to sending in cake and jumpers.
The cake and other baked goods were always a dilemma. The general advice was NEVER TO EAT ANYTHING baked by a listener. Because you just didn’t know what their kitchen was like! Or if they actually didn’t like you (especially if you’d just replaced a presenter they adored) and they’d included a few toenails in the macaroons.
But there were some you got to know really well and you trusted their offerings. I’m thinking of listeners like Eileen from New Milton, who was an absolute stalwart and continued to write to me - and read all my children’s fiction - until she died in 2020, a good fifteen years after I left the airwaves.
So if it’s possible, murdering presenters on BBC Radio Wessex is my twisted kind of love letter to BBC regional radio and all the people who work tirelessly in it, despite the intense pressure and the underfunding, because they just love it.
No really, guys, don’t thank me… it was the least I could do…
See you next month