OK, I picked this book up because it had Nantwich in the title and that is the town in Cheshire that I was born in. I was also intrigued by a book by Phill Jupitus whom I was familiar with from the TV shows ‘Never Mind the Buzzcocks’, where he was a team captain for pretty well every show, and his occasional appearances on ‘QI’ and ‘Have I Got News For You’ along with the BBC Radio 4 stalwarts ‘The News Quiz’ and ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue’ but I had no idea he had even done any radio presenting never mind being a breakfast show DJ for five years. On the first point of attraction Nantwich is never mentioned by Phill in the entire book and its sole appearance is the last line of the foreword by fellow DJ Lauren Laverne.
I also hope that this book gives you an insight into the man behind the mic, some tales that make you laugh and an insight into the way a man’s love of broadcasting might drive him to madness and beyond. Possibly to Nantwich.
My lack of knowledge of his radio broadcasting career is explained by the fact that in the 1990’s, when he started as an occasional broadcaster it was for a London based station that I couldn’t pick up and by the time that he appeared on national radio in 2002 it was for a newly launched digital only station ‘6 Music’ and at the time like almost everybody else in the country I didn’t own a digital radio as they were almost impossible to source. This partly explains the dire listening figures for his show but as Phill admits the style of the show probably put off quite a few potential listeners as it was very much a take it or leave it approach to what listeners could expect and if you didn’t like it well you could go elsewhere, he was doing it his way or not at all.
The book is actually fascinating as he not only covers his career on radio and especially his time on ‘6 Music’ but also looks at the history of breakfast shows, and compares the various styles that have been employed over the years including one very funny chapter where he makes himself to listen to a four hour show on an unnamed channel and truly hates the entire experience as it was so forced and formulaic. The humour is all the greater as I found myself hearing him reading the chapter in my mind and just getting more and more irate as he documents the show, down to the adverts and each record played along with the inane and several times genuinely offensive banter between the two presenters. Compare and contrast with the gentle style of that master of breakfast radio Terry Wogan who for twenty seven years held together a dedicated group of listeners in their millions and somebody that Jupitus genuinely admired although he had no intention of remotely copying on his own show, he was looking for something more like the shows done by the great late night broadcaster John Peel although not quite as eclectic in musical choice as he simply wouldn’t have been allowed to get away with it.
The more Jupitus mentions his musical and broadcasting heroes the more he and I agreed and we certainly had the similar exposure to music growing up as I am just fourteen days older than him and whilst he had far more opportunity to hear new things as he grew up in Greater London, a shared addiction to John Peel’s show meant that we certainly heard a lot of the weird and wonderful at the same time. Each chapter of the book concludes with a list of ten songs that has a sort of link to the chapter although at times this could be a little tenuous but it does give an idea as to the wide spread of his musical tastes. His final breakfast show broadcast was done from his own home which had the advantage that he could sleep in for an extra hour and three quarters and was also a nod to John Peel who had broadcast regularly from home where he had access to one of the largest private record collections in the world. Whilst Jupitus’s collection wasn’t in the same league he also played a lot of his own records in his final three hours as a breakfast DJ.
It’s a good book and a lot more interesting than I expected, after all reading about a radio career that you didn’t even know existed for 296 pages is a bit of a stretch, but in fact the book flew by and it just took two days to read and another one to write up. All in all I forgive the author for the Nantwich tag without which I would probably never have picked the book up. As for Jupitus in the ten years since he wrote this book he has never done a regular radio show and has no plans to do so.