Sunday, 8 April 2018

Brexit Britain is a country which has inspired old radio DJs like Tony Prince, to "throw out friendship through the radio and embrace all the countries of the world”

A new online radio station was launched this week. It was inspired by Tony Prince, a 73 year old DJ who has a long pedigree. Born in Oldham, Lancashire in 1944 at the tail-end of the Second World War, the only son of a scrap metal worker,Tony attended Oldham Art School and subsequently worked as a jockey, TV salesman and toolmaker before becoming lead singer in a local band, 'The Jasons', in 1959. In 1962, at the age of 18, he started as a club DJ and two years later he was expelled from the Musicians' Union for playing records in dance halls rather than employing live musician's.

He moved to Bristol to work for Top Rank, presented an early ITV pop music programme, 'Discs-a-Gogo' and then in 1965, joined the pirate radio station, Radio Caroline North, on a ship in the Irish Sea, where he developed his persona as "Your Royal Ruler". Two years later, when the Marine Offences Act banned pirate radio, he joined Radio Luxembourg.

Now, 53 years after he first took to the airwaves Tony, along with other veterans of the golden era of pirate radio, is embarking on 'United DJs', their new music adventure with the station broadcasting 24 hours a day from a studio on a business estate just outside Maidenhead. They aim to target listeners bored by the blandness of modern music radio, provide an antidote to playlist-dominated commercial networks and capture the buccaneering energy of pop radio in the 1960s and 70s.

Tony said the idea grew out of a meeting of old broadcasting legends at his home : “We are kind of a brotherhood. All the DJs of the past meet regularly to chinwag, and we were all talking about how bad the scene had got for radio.”  The former Radio 1 breakfast show host, 71 year old, Mike Read, 72 year old Dave Lee Travis and 79 year old “Diddy” David Hamilton are among the familiar voices behind a new station. When interviewed, Mike drew parallels between the movie stars creating 'United Artists' and their creation of 'United DJs.' It was he who launched the new station at 7am Monday 2nd April :

Other 'volunteers' working initially for free because, as Tony said : "Until we start making money, nobody is going to make money," are the 75 year old, Emperor Rosko, one of Radio 1’s launch DJs, who is presenting a Saturday evening show from his home in Los Angeles, while 80 year old Laurie Holloway, the musical director for Michael Parkinson’s chat show, will play big bands and show tunes on Sundays. In fact the all-star DJs are allowed to select their own tracks from any era and give free rein to their personalities, liberated from the restrictions of corporate-run stations.

Tony said they may eventually apply for a DAB digital licence and he hoped the network would capture the spirit of a confident Britain engaging with the world as it leaves the EU : “We are the Brexit channel. We are just going to throw out friendship through the radio and embrace all the countries of the world.” 

Successful or not, the new channel has certainly enlivened its old DJs and given them a sense of purpose and Tony, for one, said : “It’s given me a new lease of life. The adrenaline is flowing, and there’s reason to get up in the morning. I was going to start going golfing more often but I’ve cancelled my membership because I haven’t got the time now” and : "We feel like we’re getting a standing ovation on the radio. One listener said it was like he’d walked across a desert for years and finally found an oasis. People are saying, ‘This is what we’ve been waiting for, at long last something that breaks the manufactured mould.’ ”

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