Diddy David Hamilton continues to be reeling from the final yr. ‘Just dreadful. Dreadful!’ he says, nestled within the cushions of his delicate beige couch.
‘Everything was cancelled. I could not go into the radio station due to my age. I had a TV present look cancelled as a result of they could not insure me and every thing else was off. So I wrote a guide to maintain myself occupied!’
Even at 82, he is nonetheless beavering away. Hamilton has been on air since 1959, when Harold Macmillan was prime minister and Cliff Richard was recording Living Doll for the primary time.
But issues have began trying up. He’s acquired a new job broadcasting on BOOM Radio six days a week from a makeshift studio in his wood chalet-style pool home — simply a hop and a skip throughout his Sussex backyard — as his spouse Dreena tunes in from the home, dancing across the kitchen to the ‘One O’Clock Rock’ part.
‘She loves, loves, LOVES it!’ he chirps. ‘And you recognize what? I’m in all probability making broadcasting historical past! The oldest particular person to do a day by day present.’
Maybe. But on the newly launched station — geared toward Baby Boomers, these born between 1946 and 1964 — there’s loads of competitors. Veteran presenters David Symonds, 77, Roger Day, 76, Nicky Horne, 70, Anna Raeburn, 76, and Graham Dene, 72, are all BOOM regulars.
Diddy David Hamilton is thrilled to be back on the air aged 82 as one of many DJs on BOOM radio – a new station geared toward Baby Boomers
All are extremely skilled, most communicate in that barely tacky DJ twang that takes us back additional than we’d need and each one is beside themselves to be working once more — albeit from sheds, sitting rooms and research — to an viewers they know, perceive and who, maybe extra importantly, understands them.
Dene, a veteran of Capital, Smooth, Virgin and Magic, continues to be pinching himself to be back in his favourite slot from 7.30am to 10am. ‘I simply can’t consider it!’ he grins. ‘Your confidence goes if you’re not requested any extra. When you get to a sure age, you assume it is by no means going to occur once more.’
Diana Luke, 67, a former BBC common, had additionally felt the strain. ‘We older presenters had been put in a nook. Pushed back and back. I felt squeezed out and rejected.’
Then along got here BOOM, the venture of business veterans Phil Riley (the radio tycoon who launched Heart FM and relaunched LBC) and broadcaster David Lloyd, aimed on the UK’s 14 million Boomers. It went on air on Valentine’s Day and is obtainable throughout the nation.
Although critics have known as the output ‘unchallenging’ and ‘like entering into a heat bathtub’, Boomers are tuning in in droves, with as much as 40,000 listeners online every week and greater than 100,000 on DAB — far exceeding projections and rising steadily.
‘The listening numbers are miles higher than we would hoped for,’ mentioned Riley yesterday. ‘And they’re tuning in for actually lengthy durations.’
Meanwhile, BOOM’s presenters would fortunately work for the station for nothing.
‘It’s probably not concerning the cash,’ says Diddy. ‘It by no means has been. I simply love speaking. Or my spouse would say, I really like speaking . . .’
Dene is simply thrilled to have the ability to stride throughout his kitchen to his studio every morning and reconnect with outdated pals. ‘They’ve been determined. Neglected. Unheard. Oh, the emails! ‘Where have you ever been?’ ‘This is the music we have been craving.’ ‘You’re filling a gap!’ he says.
David Lloyd could not agree extra. ‘I’ve by no means seen such unbridled ardour!’ he says. ‘They’ve been pushed out within the chilly.’
Apparently, within the quest to draw the ‘Holy Grail’ of youthful listeners — ladies of their mid-30s to mid-40s — the bosses at BBC Radio 2 have been quietly asking their DJs to scale back on enjoying songs from the Nineteen Sixties and Seventies in favour of music from the Eighties onwards.
Hamilton, pictured in 1973, has been on air since 1959, when Harold Macmillan was prime minister and Cliff Richard was recording Living Doll for the primary time
‘What insanity is that?!’ says Hamilton. ‘That’s lopping out The Beatles, Elvis, the Stones, Rod Stewart, Motown . . .’
Which is the place Riley and Lloyd have stepped in. ‘We’re not attempting to recreate a good outdated station and fake its 1968 over again,’ insists Lloyd. ‘This is a station for now, for individuals who actually love and perceive music.’
Perhaps the actual miracle is that, by some means, they’re nonetheless going. Most began broadcasting half a century in the past when DJs had been heart- throbs, Radio 1 had 20 million listeners and fan mail — and women’ lingerie — arrived by the sackload.
Though sadly not for Dene. ‘I do not assume I ever acquired a pair of knickers,’ he says mournfully.
And, whereas internet hosting his morning present on Capital Radio within the Seventies, he turned down nearly each social gathering invite — to get sufficient sleep. ‘I actually remorse that. I’d have cherished to have accomplished extra.’
Back then, DJs revelled within the groupies, the events and the absence of any trace of political correctness. ‘I had a slot on considered one of my exhibits the place, day by day, I mentioned The Sun’s Page Three lady of the day,’ says Dene, horrified. ‘What was I considering?!’
‘Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman had a part known as ‘Get if off your chest’,’ says Hamilton. ‘Loads of girls despatched him their brassieres and he had them draped all spherical his studio. Imagine that as we speak!’ Hamilton tells me he lived with a Page Three lady back within the day —’Her father was a decide, you recognize! She was very intelligent.’
Grahame Dene, 72, is one other veteran radio DJ who’s back on the air, at dwelling , with BOOM
But Diana Luke, a mom of 4 and grandmother of 9 — who hosts BOOM’s 10pm to midnight slot with her fantastically gravelly late-night voice — skilled the flip facet of the coin.
‘I went by some stuff,’ she says darkly. ‘It was very sexist. I knew ladies who performed the sport and slept with whoever would give them the job, however I refused to go down that path and I had a difficult time for a whereas.’
Happily, her new life at BOOM is completely different. There is not any central studio — and by no means might be — which implies no tiring commute, no after-show knees-ups (although they did all share a glass of champagne on Zoom on opening evening) and little alternative for any sexual impropriety. In reality, this lot are extra prone to be disturbed by the doorbell than a scantily-clad groupie bursting in.
‘The different day a cloud of burnt toast got here underneath the studio door!’ Dene tells me. ‘Of course, I discussed it on my present.’
Perhaps surprisingly, the know-how hasn’t introduced a downside — though for some it’s the first time they’ve had a dwelling laptop. ‘We can all do way over individuals assume we are able to,’ says Dene.
There have been different radio exhibits aimed on the older era — Saga Radio, for one, which folded in 2007. But none have actually taken off.
For years, native radio was unofficially for the over-50s. A whole lot of Boomers discovered the music fuddy-duddy and never almost stimulating sufficient. After all, that is the era who skilled the explosion of rock music.
Dene, pictured in 1979, is simply thrilled to have the ability to stride throughout his kitchen to his studio every morning and reconnect with outdated pals
And the presenters appear comfortable broadcasting to an viewers for whom political correctness just isn’t essentially the primary precedence. ‘You nonetheless need to be very cautious. We’ve all been indoctrinated into a new lifestyle,’ says Dene. ‘But if you cannot belief us blokes — and ladies! Oh pricey, there I’m going . . . us Boomers, I ought to say, then who are you able to belief?’
Even David ‘One-Take’ Hamilton says he not says the very first thing that comes into his head and as a substitute thinks very rigorously earlier than opening his mouth. Particularly if, like him, your ambition is to go on till you die.
‘I need to croak on the microphone,’ he says firmly, including: ‘Though hopefully not this week.’
Let’s hope not. Because to me BOOM Radio is a bit like a heat bathtub — welcoming and delicate.
But at 52, I’m almost a Boomer — so maybe I’m simply limbering up for the following stage of life.