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The Stirrer’s Talk-in Radio Blog (6)

WHATEVER GETS YOU THROUGH THE NIGHT

04-04-2009

Stirrer Editor Adrian Goldberg

What happens when the calls dry up less than 90 minutes into an all-night phone-in. Stirrer editor and Talksport presenter Adrian Goldberg finds out.

We’d started the night confident it would be a good one.

The home of Fred The Shred Goodwin had been vandalised by a group calling itself “Bankers Are Criminals”, the G20 summit was on the horizon, and Fern Britton was quitting the “Good Morning” sofa.

Not quite enough to sustain us for five hours, but surely enough to get through until 4am when we could re-group and think again.

Ha! If only. In the first hour we managed just four calls, and by 2.20, just 80 minutes into the show, the calls had dried up entirely.

What to do? Well, I suppose I could have just kept banging the same drum in the hope that a caller or two might turn up – but if I wasn’t enjoying flogging the same failed talking points, I didn’t see why the listeners should.

The question was – with more than three hours of broadcasting left, and having fired the best shots in my locker, what else could I do?

There was nothing else for it – I had to own up.

I confessed on air that I must be the worst presenter ever if I couldn’t get calls on those subjects, and invited listeners to agree with me; what’s more, if they could think of anything better to talk about the floor was theirs.

For dramatic effect, I even ripped up a sheet of paper and threw it in the bin – “there goes tonight’s running order” I said.

I don’t know what I’d have done if the lines hadn’t started flashing then – but thankfully they did.

Not unreasonably, a couple of listeners rang in to confirm that I was indeed the worst presenter ever (thanks guys), while others demanded the right to speak about the subjects we’d just ditched.

Best of all, fresh ideas for talking points came flooding in. They weren’t all wonderful (trainspotting? Do me favour) but one, in particular, stuck.

A trucker wanted to know why he had to pay taxes on foreign roads, while his continental counterparts don’t have to reciprocate on this side of the Channel.

Our fraternity of overnight truckers warmed to the subject, and from then on we were flying – sustained it should be noted with plenty of calls about Fred The Shred, the G20 and Fern and Phil.

It was an object lesson in opening up the show beyond the obvious news agenda – and in the week or so since then, I’ve tried to open up the show to incorporate as many of their stories as possible.

Most nights it yields at least one solid running thread, ranging from the pension rights of Glasgow housing workers to the Mayan calendar, which apparently foretells the end of the earth as we know it.

At some point, I’d like to present a show that starts as a completely blank sheet of paper, driven entirely by the whims and fancies of callers, but that’s one for the future.

For now, it’s enough to know that even the worst presenter ever can rely on the kindness of listeners to get him through the night.

This week’s Top Five Phone-in subjects

  1. What was the point of the G20 protests? (Most listeners, like me, didn’t know).
  2. Should failed asylum seekers be treated on the NHS? ( I said yes, but I was in a minority)
  3. The Mayan Calendar – what is it, and could it all be true?
  4. Assisted Suicide for Healthy People (the Dignitas chief reckons so, as the language of consumer choice and human rights is used as a cloak for the death industry).
  5. Will Shearer succeed at Newcastle?

Stirrer editor Adrian Goldberg presents Britain’s Biggest Phone In on Talksport (1053 and 1089 AM and DAB) from 1am to 6am, Tuesday-Friday.

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