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And that my friends WAS the Steve Zacharanda Radio Show
Posted on the 29th August 2017 in the category sport



After eight vanglorious years The Steve Zacharanda Radio Show is ending.

We are going out with a bang and not with a whimper.

I would have hated the show to fizzle out like a website that has not been updated for three years.

The union that funds Scratch Radio has decided it no longer wants to be a student and comnunity radio station but rather just a student station.

That is their right and I cannot believe the decision has not been made before, I want to put on record my thanks to everyone at Scratch previously and presently.

We started when the university was in Perry Barr and I felt if they were going to have a community ethos then my Perry Barr should be represented. The place I love and breathe. The hilarious tales of working and underclass life that I heard and lived had to be given a platform.
I hope the SZRS has done that.

The idea came for the show came when I was interviewing Muff Murfin from Aston FM, I pitched the idea and wrote out a plan. After the Obama storm he bottled it but a chance meeting with old drinking compadre Kevin Moore (thanks for everything) meant Scratch would be our home. And thanks to all our producers over the years Kev, Paul Hadsley, Shaggy, Rocky, Conor, Ben Stones, Chet, Jack Press, Travis and Ewan Roycroft.

And yes the show has been invited elsewhere but me and Gurdo both believe it was a Scratch show from start to finish. 

Gurdo was always going to be part of it.

So often in life we lose touch with cool people we work with and doing a show once a week was a way we would stay in touch. In the end we did more than keep in touch, we created radio gold and then ended up working together again.

No man could ask for a better friend, how he has put up with me I will never know. Well I do know, the laughs we have had have been second to none. Making him laugh when he was angry with me was a staple of the show. Our radio personalities were so close to our real ones, you could have thrown anything at us on air and we would have dealt with it.

As a writer and journalist nothing prepared me for the sheer exhilaration, terror and joy of live radio.
There is nothing like it and thanks to social media the response is instant.

We only corpsed on air once.
When I said: Mom would have talked the AIDS out of Holly Johnson.

The adreneline live radio produces is incredible, I know I can speak for Gurdo in saying that two hours or hour have often been the best of the week. On air we can leave all our shit at the studio door.
Eight years is an incredible achievement.

I wanted the show to be dangerous, I wanted people not to believe their ears and because of that we created memorable radio.

My mantra (nicked from the peerless Paul Castronovo from Paul and Young Ron) “Live Your Life on air” often came back to haunt me. But Id like to think listeners knew I was honest with them, never taking me for granted. The Warrants Out Show and numerous “Break Up Specials” prove my point.

And that one when I was late to work and Gurdo rightly ripped me, sensing he had a contrite me to mock.
But who can forget the Cross Bow Killer bit when Gurdo pretended to be UK`s unluckiest serial killer and I pretended to be 80s pop starlets who he had to choose to kill next.
I am actually proud of that.

And then who would you rather spend a week with, a terminally ill Michael Hutchence or a smacked up Heath Ledger? We asked those questions. Or a dying Les Dennis whose last thoughts were projected on screens including a naked Amanda Holden?

Who else does that on UK radio these days?
Who ever did that on radio?
We did.
And why?
Because our listeners fucking loved it.

Our listeners are our show. Clifford (The greatest PR man a show could have, who started listening cos of Rachel Riley), Memphis Michael Moore (who likes it with fur on), the Scottish lot, Danksy (from start to the end and a great guest presenter), Tipper, Tight Bass Green (Just Dont Turn Around was the pick of the songs we asked people to come up with for his MRI scan), Sexy Sophie. Claire and Tapping Brian, Tom Watson, Miami Sam, Jill Humphries,Jez, Felton when he got his things working, Burn Burn Burns, Ab, Spearman, Mark Taylor (a great guest), Bal Dadda, Jim Big House Levack, Nicky Cunningham (she broke the law as a guest bringing us beer), Amanda Cass (that pic in the 80s), EnR Twinz (who sent us their swearing version of their song), Rachel Reid, the Keane firm so many I cant keep typing as it will be boring. Ok then Lovely Ceri Saunders, James Keatley, Anton Deck, Bal Dhadda, John Bayliss, Craig Baldwin, Dawn Cowen, Tom Davis, Japhy Ryder, Marvin, Jock, Dave Finchett, Russ Cockburn and Barnetto.
Stretch who was inspired by us to set his own show whuch did better than ours making us the john the baptist to his Jesus.

The international listeners like the Ellimans and Kevin Annett who I know enjoyed getting a slice of Perry Barr down under.

And who can forget Jeff Oram?
And Jo Doyle`s lapdancing.
And Nashville Maggie with the three passports.

Who else has a dead listeners hall of fame?
Victoria Van Loan, Billy Milk, Rebecca Wallace...
I remember Lyle Bignon messaging me “Were u just asking for sexual shout outs for ur ex who had just died?”
Yes, we did that and kept her life alive.

And it was not all pratting about and daft buggering around.

The Blacklisted special is one of the greatest things I've ever done. We were the first radio show to let Dave Smith tell his story, whilst keeping it SZRS.

 And Imagine a DJ who found he warrants out for him? And then did a show about it.

Then there is the music which was from the racial barrier breaking Gurdo`s seeping sack of Sikh songs.
He was one of his generation`s best music journalists so his choice of tunes was always going to be brilliant.

I thought my friends would listen, most of them did for a bit but were probably used to hearing my shit.
But I made new friends of listeners I never knew existed. And I loved how I became friends with Gurdo's mates and him with me, I know him and Ozzy loved swapping tunes and the same with me and Stretch.

And of course all you lot who never got in touch but listened, I know me and Gurdo always were surprised when you told us you were listening.

And there is our guests, you had our airtime so no need to name you! But obviously Rachel Reid and Jo Doyle need thanking for putting up with us.

But the breakthrough came with Tom Watson`s first media appearance since one of his resignations.
We had high zeros listeners, and they loved us, Radio One and Six DJs the lot.
And then we went off air for a year.

People say “one day you will make it....”

I already have. I presented the Steve Zacharanda Radio Show with my mate Gurdo.

And it was a fucking blast.
So for one more time..
Gentleman get ready to crash ur custard trucks.
Ladies get ready to drop ur yoghurt pots.

Because the last ever Steve Zacharanda Radio Show is a two hour special at 7pm on Thursday.
And the after party is at Peaky Blinders at 9.05...
You are invited for a game of drunken OneStopARama!



Today I leave the Mighty Halesowen News - I remember my first day like it was yesterday
Posted on the 5th May 2017 in the category sport



Today, after eight fun-filled award-winning years, I leave the Halesowen News. 

This job saved my life, god knows what would have happened if I'd not been given a second chance in journalism all those years ago. 

Thankfully a great man called Paul Walker gave me that chance. Here is what I wrote about being allowed back in the game. 

 

The day I got back into journalism – October 2009 - from Obama and Me: The Incredible True Story of a YouTube Sensation

 

I opened my eyes at 6.30am, ten minutes before the alarm went off. My first thought was ‘How can I afford to get to work’? Nicole, who had returned from her weekend soujorn to fuck knows where, was wrapped up in duvets so I couldn’t touch her. She hadn’t brought any wages back from work and had left me starving all weekend, despite my fronting over £1,500 for the house we lived in. The house was perfect - and art studio for her, a writing room for me and a garden for the dog.

She hadn’t even bothered unpacking her stuff. I knew she was using our dream home as a stepping stone, because she’d been about to get evicted from her own flat. She knew I couldn't afford the place on my own, and I didn’t technically need an art studio or a garden because I couldn’t draw and I knew she’d take the dog with her if she left, but I moved in thinking I’d spend the happiest days of my life under that roof. She’d moved in counting down the days until she could move out.

All my friends had told me not to put my money into the house, on the not unreasonable grounds that they knew she was having an affair. I did too, but I wanted to look in the mirror when she left and see a man who had done everything in his power to hold onto the woman he loved. 

The only money in the house was £2 in coppers, and the only food two slices of bread and marmalade. I laughed at the note I’d left her: ‘Hey babes, no money for a Daysaver! So borrowed money out of change bag. Didn’t want to wake you as you were dead to the world! Ring you later about cheque! Love you!’.

I didn't have enough bus fare to get to work so thought I’d try to jump on the bus with my out of date travel card. The baby worked and I got to work five minutes late and started to write.  A few weeks before Gurdip had told me that there were three days of freelancing work available at the Halesowen News. I’d got the gig and chased stories liked my life depended on it. I loved it, loved having power again. I loved being back where I belonged.

I’d only lasted two days as a door to door salesman. It turned out I’d been sent around an estate that already had Scottish Electric, as the woman in the last house I’d knocked had explained to me. I poured my heart out to her, about everything. She made me a cup of tea and when she realised it was commission only told me to give up the job, claim benefits and write a book.  

The boss at the Halesowen News liked my style though. He’d been getting more complaints than he’d had for years prior to my arrival, and he kept inviting me back at £85 a day - which, after months of being on the breadline, was like winning the lottery.

At 10am on this particular October day I threatened the Press Officer at West Midlands Police. At 10.10am I demanded that his Dudley Council counterpart get me information about teenage pregnancies, and at 10.30am I phoned George Wimpy’s press office and read out inflammatory quotes to scare them into giving me a quote about floods in Halesowen. At 10.50am I scrounged a roll-up off the journo opposite, smoked it and then spotted a half smoked fag in the ash tray, which I finished off too.

At 11am I excused myself to go and get some money from a cheque that should have cleared. I filled the form in and went to the cashier. She took ages and I was nervous. “I cannot authorise this payment, please go to the reception”, she said.

My stomach turned as my financial future flashed in front of my eyes. The receptionist disappeared into the back. I was worried he was going to perform a citizen’s arrest based on the arrears in the current account, but he came back out and said “There’s been a fire in one of our business centres, so your cheque will take a day longer”.

At 12.30pm I flirted with an ex-Sandwell councillor who was 65 but sill loved a bit of it. I then conducted a little debate with myself. I had £4.50 with £2 in coppers, and was wondering whether to buy a packet of snouts or save up for a pint. In the event, I bought the fags and a pack of Somerfield cut price ginger nuts, attractively price at 39p. They were my lunch. I plugged my earphones in and listened to Tom Jones ‘I'm Never Going To Fall in Love Again’ on repeat, following it up with Michael Buble's ‘Cry Me A River’ and Gordon Lightfoot's ‘If You Could Read My Mind’.

At 2.30pm and after more threats to George Wimpy I spotted the boss, Paul Walker, nip out for the fag. I had my own so I followed him. He’d told me he’d make a decision on whether I got a full time job by today. We made small talk. He’s from Zimbabwe and after discussing his 20s in Africa we walked back in to the newsroom, at which point he said “You’ll get a letter the next few days with the official offer”. My spine tingled and my heart missed a beat. “Do you mean I’ve got the job?” I said. He looked at me and said: “Of course”. Relief hit me and I grabbed his hand and shook it too hard. I got back to the desk and the four journalists around me all clapped and gave me the thumbs up.

I knew that Paul believing in me and letting me get back into journalism was massive. I’d thought that getting another job after all the YouTube stuff was going to be nearly impossible, but thanks to him seeing my work day to day he knew I was good enough. I had had an outrageous publicity stunt planned to show the world what Nicole and her new squeeze had done to me, but now I had my dream job there was no way I was going to risk losing it.  

Facebook statusSteve Zacharanda “The reports of my demise in journalism were greatly exaggerated (had to ask new colleagues how to spell that) – I am a hack again.



Bugger, Blackburn is in charge of Sounds of the Sixties
Posted on the 26th February 2017 in the category sport



As I passed 40 I made a conscious effort not to be plastered every Friday night, so my aspiration was to have a good kip and be awake for Brian Matthew Sounds of the Sixties at 8am on Saturday morning on Radio 2.

His knowledge was impeccable, there are so many of these shows and stations churning out retro radio playing the hits everyone has heard a million times but with SoS I really learnt stuff about bands I'd never heard of.

Matthew worked with Phil "the Collector" Swern who had incredible rare records.He was ill over Christmas and his stand-in was OK with the Collector guiding him. Well Brian was back this week, sounding great for an 88-year-old, mixing Elvis with obscure one hit wonders and even a German version of a Supremes hit.

You read that right 88-years-old, I'm 41 and have done The Steve Zacharanda Radio Show for eight years but I can't imagine doing it in 47 years.

We lost Desmond Carrington this year too, he was broadcasting into his 80s too, the class both men exuded on air was an inspiration, compare their style to celebrities who get their first radio job on Radio 2. Carrington and Matthew had encyclopedic knowledge of music but they way they imparted it was without blowing their own trumpet.


After being delighted Matthew was back he dropped the bombshell after 27 years he was leaving, and didnt sound best pleased about it. It appears Radio 2 bosses "retired" him to rest him from "the treadmill of weekly shows." He had been at the station since 1954. And he had wanted to carry on.


Then during the Graham Norton show an advert for Sounds of the Sixties with Tony Blackburn, at 6am next Saturday followed by a new breakfast show Dermot O'Leary! Breakfast shows at the weekend are never a good idea, this one will be safe and boring.

Blackburn is the polar opposite to Matthew, one introduces a song with the same lame link he has been using since 1970 and the other will tell you about the drummer's next band's success. The decision to pick Blackburn and move it to 6am is the radio equivalent of getting a vote of confidence from the Leicester City board. 

What a crock of shite, I wonder if The Collector will be involved, either way I might start drinking on Fridays again.

I dont fancy waking up to Tony Blackburn playing the usual 60s stuff whilst reminiscing with Gambochini about the glory years not mentioning they probably were tredding in Jimmy Savile's spunk every day...

 




 

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