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Radio Voices-Part 1


Silver Member
I wasn't expecting to be Kate Adie, but covering a story about a frog found in a bag of lettuce in Cleckheaton wasn't the complex journalistic challenge I'd imagined meeting on my first day either.

"Nice one Dawn" said Simon "IRN are going to use a clip of that interview you did. It's going to be used by radio stations all over the country".

Brilliant. I wanted to ring Tom and tell him to listen and my Stepmum, and Fiona and Emma from school and... I knew that wouldn't look very professional. I was trying so hard to be professional I'd even had my ears pierced. Something I thought I'd never do after seeing one of those strange late night films on Channel Four where a bloke went around putting metal spikes through people's skin.
"Don't you have your ears pierced?" people would say at school and then Uni in the same tone as they might say, "Don't you have nostrils?" but I didn't mind being different. In fact I liked it. But here, in this radio station newsroom, I was actively trying to fit in for the first time.

Ali, the News Editor had offered me some Liquorice Allsorts before I'd sat down and then shown me round the station. I'd remembered her being more formal at the interview but now she was wearing jeans and a T shirt that said "Hello Baby" in silver writing and said that no one did any work til after the news meeting at eleven, and we'd all done the Daily Argus quiz.

The station was like a very cool primary school. Lots of neon strips at crazy angles, framed Gold and Platinum discs from various pop stars scattered on the walls with messages saying "Thanks to Drive FM for all the support" that had presumably gone out in a job lot to all the country's radio stations. The main staircase painted as alternating black and white piano keys.

We came to a dark corridor with lit up red boxes above the doors. "This is where it all happens" said Ali cheerily. "Shhhh". She put a finger to her lips and leaned nearly her full weight against one of the doors, which was covered in a grey material and seemed as it opened to be about a foot thick. The wider it opened, the louder Britney Spears "Toxic" swelled in my ears. I stayed firmly behind Ali as we stepped in. Star Trek was my first thought. I'd never seen a completely grey walled room before. A bank of computer screens rose from a grey desk in front of us and several microphones craned like a flotilla of black swans above it.

I was so scared of making a noise I hardly breathed. I pictured a loud fart erupting from me and a voice saying "I'm sorry we have to apologise but our new trainee journalist has just farted and will be immediately sacked" or having a Tourette's moment and shouting "Bollocks!" at the top of my voice before being marched out of the station by the armed security guards I mustn't have noticed on my way in.

Britney Spears was still going strong enough to cover all bodily eruptions though. That four note strings riff screeched out. I saw a dark head behind the desk nodding in time to the beat. The riff again. My eyes met a pair of seaweed green eyes and my heart thudded. DUH,duh, duh duh duh. Our eyes stayed locked. Britney's breathy vocal made me feel for a moment not like me. I was in a music video. Me and this man were about to rise to our feet and wordlessly start dancing in synchronised movements to the song "The taste of your lips all over me...". There was only the beat and our eyes and...

Ali cut across the song, speaking like you do when you're in a nightclub and you emphasise your words by opening your mouth really wide and then actually ending up speaking more quietly than normal;

"Scotty; this is Dawn our trainee journalist, Dawn this is Scotty our Breakfast Jock. Most important man in the station after Bob the caretaker, and the tiredest "

Scotty stood up. Or rather unfolded. He must have been at least six foot four. But solid. My first thought was that he was wasted on radio. Good cheekbones I thought. Then; Good arms. Strong looking, sinewy, light covering of dark hair. Then; Good God, it's not like me to respond to a bloke like this. He hadn't even spoken. Brains are what do it for me. And voices. Then he said in a voice that managed to do tensile steel and liquid pouring cream all at once

"Dawn, nice to meet to you. Keep an eye on this newsroom lot. They'll have you thinking West Afganistan's more important than Westlife before you know it. But I suppose you already do".

He fixed his eyes back on mine in what felt like a challenge. Several synapses in my brain collided with all the mixed messages. He didn't seem like a breakfast DJ at all. They were Frosties. He was... Granola. But he was talking about me as if I was going to be a serious journalist. A different species to a frivolous DJ like him apparently. Even though he appeared to be about as frivolous as a lion on a water hunt. I immediately felt boring and grey in the new purple Per Una dress that had been a practical but pretty new job outfit. I knew I should have worn jeans. I knew I should have read NME (NME? As if they'd have been seen dead with Westlife in them). Mostly I didn't know what was going to come out of my mouth until it emerged, but I hoped it would make sense. Hopefully a sentence. With some verbs, adjectives, that type of thing. Even words would be a bonus at this point. I caught Ali's eye and she smiled encouragingly.

"Er, well, both of them are important and I gather a news bulletin's almost as long as a song round here, so I suppose you can fit them both in".

I closed my mouth and immediately subjected my sentence to a post mortem examination with a particularly critical coroner. "Oh God, flat vowels, too many clauses, not funny, sound like a knob".

"Anyway Scotty" said Ali, "We know you've been up a long time, so we'll leave you to it".

"Yes, Keep it...up" I said with an unintentional pause. Oh God. The spirit of Kenneth Williams has invaded my brain. I helped Ali shoulder the door open and we left the studio just as "Toxic" ground to it's sudden stop and the red "Mic Live" light went back on. My heart still seemed to be beating to that riff. As we passed the studio window, I could see Scotty sliding his microphone fader up ready to speak. Toxic I thought. And hoped I'd hear my own warning.
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Silver Member
Today I was Kate Adie in Rocket Dogs. I was Donal Mcintyre without the camera crew and the talking to himself and I was Jeremy Paxman after a particularly uncomfortable day in those Marks and Sparks underpants. No one could see me here in the dark and I was going to uncover the true story.

Er, maybe.

I wished I'd eaten more at lunchtime. My stomach was growling in a way that nobody was going to mistake for a cat in the bushes. Oh God. A cat. I didn't want to be mistaken for a cat since he'd killed one of those too. His wife Elaine and the cat Brandy. Both in the pool.

Well, allegedly. Maybe it wasn't Michael, the husband. Maybe it was just co incidence that he'd gone missing on the very day his wife was found dead in their swimming pool. We weren't allowed to say that in our news bulletins of course. I'd invested the legal bit we were allowed to say with extra emphasis "Police are currently looking for a man in connection with their enquiries." and pictured lantern jawed, floppy haired Michael as I said "man" as if I could telepathically beam the image to all of Drive FM's listeners.

I keep picturing poor Elaine. From the photo in the Police press release, her hair was like mine. A kind of blonde, grown out version of the "Rachel". She and her husband ate out often in the pub where me and Tom had had a meal just last weekend. It was a proper country pub, not with pretend beams or anything. Someone's actual collection of gravy boats hanging on hooks from the real beams, an open fire. Me and Tom had both had a full roast lamb dinner, he'd teased me about leaving the boiled potatoes but eating all the roasties as usual. I'd felt grown up and normal. Like we were the sort of couple of whom people would say "They''re a lovely couple", just like Michael and Elaine in that photo.

My hand was gripping my little square Sony Mini Disc recorder in my pocket. I was cold now. I could see the two Police officers at the front gates of the house shifting from foot to foot. I didn't need to be there. Elaine's husband wasn't about to appear and shout "I did it!"

I just wanted to stand there a minute in the still and the dark. A woman had died. It felt like this. Still and dark and cold. Not rushing around from press conference to radio station, joking with the telly reporters about how we'd needed a change from all the slow news days, not writing a three line news story with the latest angle with two minutes to go until I read it out on air, not even driving the news car over the Pennines with James "She's a Star" at full blast on the speakers. One day I would find out why I always identified with the women who had been murdered. But not today. Today was a day to tell the world that something had happened, even if we weren't allowed to say what.

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