Thursday, February 16, 2023

 

Timmy Ryan’s weekly column for the Waterford News & Star

 

1983. Glenroe was the hip new soap on RTE, Shergar was stolen, Octopussy was the latest James Bond film. We lost Karen Carpenter at the age of 32. Eamon Coghlan thrilled the nation becoming the 5,000m World Champion and the first ‘Now That’s What I Call Music’ compilation record was released. I was living at home and music and radio filled my days. The 25 pounds 45 I got weekly on the dole was enough to have the odd pint and buy a few records.

 

On air? Yes. What, today? Yep. I felt slightly horrified yet excited at the thought. “I haven’t worked the gear” I protested. “You’ll be fine, it’s easy.”

 

We had a lovely summer that year too. Of all the events that happened 40 years ago, however, one made no headlines whatsoever.

It wasn’t highlighted anywhere and went totally unnoticed.

No one was talking about it yet it changed my life forever.

It centred around one particular afternoon when one little old decision transformed my whole world.

I can vividly remember a sunny day, most probably in July. The actual date escapes me.

I’d most likely been on air earlier that day on our local pirate radio station DCR in Dungarvan and had gone out with my portable sound system in tow to take a bit of the lovely sunshine.

Near the harbour, in front of St. Mary’s Church, I got a berth on the stone slab and relaxed while enjoying the hot sounds from the uber cool ABC Radio, the station that had launched a year earlier in Tramore. These guys were the new kids on the block and were growing in popularity by the day.

As the latest hits were booming out though, I got something of a bolt from the blue. Call it an epiphany if you like.

I began to daydream somewhat. Imagine being on that station? Wouldn’t it be exciting? Any station to be honest. I was pretty much going through the motions in town and I definitely needed a new experience. Since 1981 I’d been on air on and off locally and with two different stations at that. One paid a few bob, which naturally was most welcome, the other was unable to.

I don’t think money came in to it though, a recurring theme for many years I might add.

I was growing stale and I craved the excitement that most 17 year old boys do I’m sure.

As the fantastic sounds kept on coming that warm afternoon, It hit me there and then. I would get up early the following day, hitch to Waterford and try get a job on whatever station would have me.

Being in Tramore, ABC would unfortunately be off my radar but I was familiar with WLR having done a string of Saturday shows there the previous year and Suirside Radio, its rival in the city. I knew much less about the latter but had popped in a couple of times to just get a look when I was down for the day with my Dad.

So, the next day was equally as sunny thankfully and I was gung-ho to hit the road in search of adventure. I wonder sometimes what would have happened had it rained?  I’ll never know.

Onward and after a couple of lifts from some nice folk, I made the city centre and found myself heading down the Mall, not that I knew it was even called that back then. I didn’t know the city very well. The funny thing is, I knew exactly however where both stations were located and it just occurred that, geographically, Suirside was closest so I decided that had to be my first port of call at any rate.

I was greeted fairly pleasantly and when they asked what my purpose in dropping by was, it seemed I couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time. As it happened, the legendary afternoon DJ Eddie Coady had to go someplace and needed to leave early so I was asked if I’d do the last hour for him?

The station was in the process of a big move so the new studio was actually now in Ballybricken, so off we jolly well went to a part of Waterford I’d become only too familiar with in years to come.

On air? Yes. What, today? Yep. I felt slightly horrified yet excited at the thought. “I haven’t worked the gear” I protested. “You’ll be fine, it’s easy.”

Nervously I went on anyway and finished Eddie’s show without making too many cock ups I think.

As I was wrapping up and a cool looking dude who I understood to be a priest took over, I was offered a full-time job starting next week if I was up for it.

Without an ounce of hesitation, I accepted and the lunchtime show was mine.

Grace and Mick were my new bosses, Sohail Khan, a DJ who was there that day, became a buddy. His slot was the mid-morning gig before me.

Mick and Sohail dropped me off at the Crystal factory on the Cork road as they called it. To me it had only ever been the Dungarvan road.

I headed for home in high spirits. It appeared that wild fantasy I’d had the day before on the stone slab was becoming wonderfully real.

40 years on, I can only smile when I think of 1983.

Knowing how many times I’ve put things off over the years, I’m so glad that I didn’t manage to talk myself out of this escapade that seemed initially just a pie in the sky exercise.

It would have been so like me to change my mind, make some excuses and bottle it.

It’s so true though when people say it starts with taking that first step.

Maybe you’re in a similar situation currently? Is there something you’d love to do and are frightened of having a go? Why not take a step out in to the unknown and at least give it some room to breathe. Maybe it will be the best thing you’ve done in years. At least you’ll be able to say “I tried”.

 

By Timmy Ryan

Broadcaster and liquorist

By Timmy Ryan
Contact Newsdesk: 051 874951

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