Belfast Telegraph

John Laverty: Four things I really hope Stephen Clements doesn’t do on air

Stephen Clements is set to present his own show on BBC Radio Ulster
Stephen Clements is set to present his own show on BBC Radio Ulster

By John Laverty

No! Not Wake Me Up Before You Go Go.

These things happen when you listen to BBC Radio Ulster in the morning; GMU, Nolan, that sort of stuff.

You flick though other stations or podcasts in the car — but the home wireless stays logged onto 94.5FM.

Ergo...

“You put the boom boom into my heart (hoo, hoo)

“You send my soul sky high when your lovin’ starts...”

Nothing against George, God rest his soul. But this is the music genius who wrote Father Figure, Jesus To A Child and Praying For Time. Why not one of those?

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Why did it have to be something middle-aged people like me (presumably the target audience) were sick of hearing back then, and can’t listen to now without recalling the infamous Sun headline that followed Mr Michael’s arrest for lewd behaviour in a Beverly Hills public toilet.

For me, that’s one of the things that bedevil Radio Ulster’s daytime music programmes — a lack of imagination when it comes to the playlist; top 10 hits from decades ago that were chronically overplayed back then and feel cliched and unwelcome now.

Wake Me Up topped a UK chart in May 1984 that included White Lines from Grandmaster Flash, New Order’s Thieves Like Us and You Take Me Up from The Thompson Twins; how often you you hear gems like those on Radio Ulster?

How I miss the late broadcasting genius Gerry Anderson, whose eclectic playlist was almost as inviting as his dry, witty banter.

Ayo, Roxy Gordon, Robert Earl Keen and The Disposable Heroes Of Hiphoprisy are now staples on my iPod thanks to Gerry.

My other beef: unlike, for instance the Steve Wright Show on Radio 2, Radio Ulster’s main weekday music programmes seem to exist in a bubble, with the presenters making little or no reference to the day’s major talking points.

I don’t expect them to discuss the vicissitudes of Brexit between Amarillo and Karma Chameleon, but there could be at least some cognisance of what’s going on in the world outside the hermetically soundproofed studios.

Then you wouldn’t have a situation like on January 17, 1992 — the day of the Teebane Massacre — when the afternoon music show rattled on as if nothing of any significance had happened  that day; the jokes, the cringeworthy phone calls (who ARE these people?), the “banter” continued, unabated.

This jarred as I, and tens of thousands of others, tuned in a couple of minutes early to catch the Radio Ulster drivetime news lead with the chilling report that eight workmen had been blown up on a country road — and got the voice of a man, pretending to be a woman, screeching “cheerio now” prior to the 5pm pips. Did the producers not think of toning things down a little, considering the solemnity of what was to follow?

I’ve high hopes, though, for Stephen Clements, a man with an ear for both the music and the so-called vibe.

All I ask is that you don’t...

1. Start every sentence with “so”.

2. Describe everything you hear/read about/ see on TV as “amazing”, a la the infuriating Zoe Ball.

3. Ask callers what they’re “up to” today (no one is interested).

4. Pop Wake Me Up Before You Go Go into the machine.

Stick to that, Stephen, and you’ve got my vote.

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