nder the cover culture lover was going to be the title to this post but I was worried about what kind of hits I might get from google.
I’m not sure quite how I came across Ian Perrys Midnight Line, I think a friend of mine was a listener, once I’d heard it I soon became hooked, an under the cover culture lover as Ian would say. Broadcast from Wolverhampton on Beacon radio and also on WABC via medium wave, I could only pick the show up when the winds were blowing in the right direction and when I really should have been getting some sleep for school the next day.
Weeknights from midnight until 2am the show would run with either topical national or local stories or else one of its regular feature formats. One of these was a roughly bi-monthly show featuring John Starkey [who sounded at the time to me to be a man in his sixties]. These we’re some of the most genuinely ‘spooky’ shows I’ve ever heard, while you could argue on some calls he was reading the persons responses on the other end of the line, more often than not he’d pluck something completely off the wall, but very specific, and be spot on. I think during just about every show there would be a hair standing up on the back of the neck moment. I see from his website that John is younger now than he sounded at the time, given this was nearly twenty years ago, and is still doing the odd radio show, I must try to catch one, a lots changed in the media since then and it would be interesting to hear how the show is received today.
The show was a true local programme, providing both a service for the local community to air gripes and complaints with local issues as well as opinion on wider national and international news and more importantly provided entertainment and a sense of community for the housebound, people working unsociable hours and for people like me, who should really have been asleep. Most of all, it was always great fun, Regular callers like Eric, the Captain, Wing Nut, Johnny Morris & Jammo the parrot would always give you something to laugh about. Ian was a very good host, managing to make hosting such a show seem effortless and being able to draw peoples opinions out of themselves in an era where people were far less ‘media savy’.
I don’t know when or why the show ended, I went away from the midlands for a few years and when I came back there was no mention of Ian Perry to be found anywhere. Since then I did read he was working for BBC Shropshire Though I’m yet to be up at 5am to listen and the show didn’t seem to be podcasted when last I checked.
Listening to a few shows again now, I used to start the tape recorder at midnight, which given the fact that most of my tapes we’re C90’s meant I always missed the last half hour, the shows are much as I remember them. One thing that stands out is just how much general opinion and society has changed in the past fifteen years, and how un self aware most of the callers we’re, it was very honest and open radio.
The other thing that struck me is how the callers who we’re ‘characters’ on the show, we’re genuine characters, they weren’t frustrated performers phoning up with made up personas(Well…), which unfortunately seems to have become the norm on most modern talk radio shows.
It was everything that can be good about radio, it was intimate, gimmick free and offered a genuine insight into other peoples lives. Listening to the Christmas Grotto show with a friend on a road trip a while back we still we’re reduced to tears of laughter.
Its a shame that there is so little ‘local’ radio today, let alone so little good talk based radio. Heres a couple of links to some archived shows;
‘Free For All’
‘Commision for Racial Equality’
Tony’s maitreya never did show up mind.