“I’m sorry guys I’m going to have to finish my show now. I think I’m going to be sick.”
That was how I ended my first student radio show. I then put a 7 minute song on, faded the mic down, ran out of the studio and vomited into a empty refuse bin round the corner from the studios, next to the bike sheds. I was on air for just 35 minutes.
I wasn’t ill, I wasn’t sick from being anxious… no… I was just incredibly hungover. I decided that the only way to mentally prepare myself for my first broadcast, the show broadcasting 10am on a Sunday morning to a University campus still soundly asleep, was to down two and a half bottles of wine the night before and then proceed to the world’s worst nightclub (I couldn’t even walk properly to the studios on the morning of my show properly, because on my way home the previous night I had grazed my knees after falling over a set of recycling bins).
The worst thing about that first radio show was that nobody was able to rescue me. There was nobody else in the radio studios, most of my friends were still asleep so they couldn’t ring 999. The only person who came to my aid was the Technical Assistant, who wondered why the station had broadcasted 18 minutes of dead air after that 7 minute song had come to an end. Confused, he tried to find where I was and why the station was unlocked, heard some noise from outside, walked round the vicinity of the building and then found me, nearly face first in the gravel, crying.
I had never felt more ashamed. I vowed to myself that from the following week I vowed that the show would improve drastically to not bring embarrassment on myself and the radio station as a whole.
The programme never did improve.
Welcome to the Scott Bryan Show.
My show on University Radio York (at the University of York), weirdly, became a rather popular student radio programme the three years that it was on air. But this wasn’t from following the tried and tested formula of short sweet pre-thought of links, playlisted music and well marketed content which commercial and non-commercial radio stations thrive on today. No my show was popular because it broke nearly every single rule that a radio show was supposed to follow to be successful in the first place. It was so unpredictable, so ridiculously awful, that you would just listen to hear how bad it could possibly be.
The content never ended.
I used to start my radio programme with a Chris Moyles Breakfast Show-esque chat, ten minutes of ‘free chat’ alongside a cheesy background bed where the presenters would be able to discuss the big issues of the day as well as the first thing that came into their heads.
Well that was the idea. The issue was that there were no other presenters. It was just me, in the studio, talking by myself. With no pressure to start the show or do anything in particular by another presenter or producer, I would get a little carried away with myself, so this opening link on most days could be a little long. I say a little long. On most weeks it would last up to 25, 30 minutes straight.
And what would these opening links consist of? Absolutely everything. I would start one talking about one thing before flicking to another, I would lose track of what I was saying and would just start the whole anecdote all over again. There were some shows where I had talked for so long the background music (‘the bed’ in technical radio terms) would just cut itself off.
In fact it went on for so long other student radio programmes noticed. Student DJs ‘Dan and James’ would play two minutes of my programme on their show and would then ask listeners about what I had been talking about in a feature called ‘What’s Scott on About?’. You knew a show is bad when no-one, not even Dan and James themselves, could work it out.
My features never made any sense.
My show went on for 3 years. How many features did I have? At my last count, I think I had about 4.
One feature was called ‘Predict A Manger’, where you had to guess what I was eating on air. One was called ‘Chain Reaction’, where I played 45 minutes of songs that can be linked under a particular theme such as love or sandwiches (the feature depended on me playing the chorus of Diana Ross’ ‘Chain Reaction’ to kick the feature, but I always got the timing wrong on the track so you only heard half of the verse instead). My third feature was called ’1001 Things You Didn’t Know about York’ (I would read a Wikipedia page about something of a York interest to listeners… not just a few sentences, an entire Wikipedia page). And my fourth feature was ‘News at When’, where I would play the News at Ten theme tune and shout the words “BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG” for no reason whatsoever. That was it.
It would come to no surprise to you to learn that most of these features didn’t work on the air, especially Predict A Manger. Predict A Manger relied on me bringing in an item of food to chew on the air, but half the time I forgot to bring something in, so I had to resort to eating left over food in the studio or anything left lying around. Once I resorted to chewing Page 3 of The Sun and then followed it up with the following clues for listeners > “It’s cheap, it’s dirty, and Rupert Murdoch LOVES IT.”
My best ever radio programme was never broadcasted.
There was only one week when I really tried to improve the show’s content. I spent hours beforehand prepping the playlist, arranging some interviews and thinking of interesting things to say. I even managed to get into the station early and make some jingles. “This show will be unforgettable” I boasted loudly to a senior committee member of the station who had already given up all hope on me. “Just you wait and listen.”
The show, actually went really well. The links were smooth, there were no technical problems. The programme was going so well I gained a new sense of confidence in myself and my ability.
There was only a slight issue. I didn’t press the ‘Studio 1′ button on the wall at the start of my programme. This meant that the show didn’t switch from the other studio. This meant my output was never linked to the broadcasting equipment. This meant that my radio show was never on air.
I broadcasted the best radio programme I had ever done, to absolutely nobody but myself.
I couldn’t read any scripts.
I was asked once to help present the news and weather programme on URY. I thought “That sounds easy. I’ll give it a shot and then replay it on my radio programme the following week.” I mean, how hard could it be?
I was awful. On that fateful day I was asked to present the sports news. I didn’t know anything about sports. I pronounced “Pompey” as the ancient Roman city Pompeii. I then started corpsing when I read out the words “Greg Cummingham”. The words that followed on my script, “Carlos Tevez’s representatives” came out as “Carolteveezzesrepresenadditives”.
I was never asked to come back.
The content REALLY never ended.
Half the time there was no programme to follow mine. It was just ‘URY Jukebox’, a pre-recorded tape of music and features. So what did I used to do? Carry on broadcasting, until I gave up.
The longest unprepared Scott Bryan Show went on for about 5 hours. When I had done all of my main features twice and started to run out of ideas I decided to play on the air was all of Pendulum’s songs on air all at the same time, just to see if they all sounded the same (they didn’t). I also played and contrasted the opening music for each series of Sabrina The Teenage Witch and asked listeners ‘which one they thought was the best’.
I then decided to become a club DJ and do those ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ Megamixes. So I decided to load up all the digitised songs on the system on the screens in front of me, PFL’d a random song (PFL’ing is when you get to hear the song through your headphones before the audience) and then sped the song up or slowed the track down in the hope that the rhythm and the beat of the music was not lost when I switched from one song to another.
The feature ended up with Dido sounding like Barry Manilow.
To this day I’m still bitter that I was never nominated for a Student Radio Award. I really am.