After 25 years I said goodbye to my friends and colleagues at the BBC today.
It's been an incredible place to work from the day I walked in at the age of 23 to answer the phones. I almost begged the manager at the time, John Lilley, for a job – and bombarded him with demo cassettes from my fictional bedroom radio station 'Gemini FM'.
It worked – and he offered me a position. I started producing shows for the broadcasting greats at the time, Steve Massam, Mike Hurley, Judi Murden, Peter Adamson and the like.
Over those 25 years I've presented every programme in every slot across the week – 2 years on the afternoon show, 3 years on Drivetime, 10 years on mid-morning, 5 years on Breakfast and bits and bobs elsewhere including reading the non-league football results, hosting the gardening phone-in and playing showtunes in Westenders on a Sunday evening. That's not to mention the production, events, charity stuff, event hosting and the legendary panto's with Jonathan Parker and crew which have raised well over £100k for charity. Sally Fairfax and I won Stars in Our Eyes singing Phantom and I sprayed myself yellow to win our version of 'Strictly' for BBC Children in Need. What a wonderful way to earn a living.
As with any organisation, the people make it what it is. There are some incredibly talented people at Radio Humberside and Look North. Wonderful, warm people who really care about this area and making sure local people have a voice. Local radio is incredibly valuable, and I hope it remains a top priority for the BBC for many years to come. In our incredibly divided world, we need reminding of our roots. Local TV and radio bring us together like nothing else can and I think it's more valuable today than it's ever been. Forget what you read about overpaid BBC “stars” and focus instead on the real people working extremely hard at the BBC standing up for where we all live.
When the floods came in 2007, the people reporting it on the radio were also affected. I can remember colleagues like Andy Comfort working around the clock to keep the information flowing while worrying for their own homes and families. The companionship, warmth and local knowledge offered by BBC Radio Humberside during that difficult time was incredible. And that's just one example.
I've grown up with the staff at Radio Humberside. My best friends are there. I met Michelle, the love of my life there. As a team we've been through so many highs and lows together. We're family and always will be. It’s easy while doing the day to day job to forget what incredible people we all work with.
I've worked with the best. I hate to pick out individual names, but I must thank “mother” – Gloria Johnson who co-hosted mid-morning with me for ten years. Glo is such a lovely, warm person and we just had a real laugh every day. The audience loved the shows – including the specials we did over a few years in the sunshine live from Benidorm. We were on air together through difficult times too – including the morning that it was announced that Diana, Princess of Wales had died. I'll never forget it being one of our busiest on the phones as people turned to us to share their stories, feelings and to grieve. Gloria was an outstanding broadcaster and is a real friend. People still stop and ask me how “mother” is every week. (She's fine by the way).
I've also got to pay tribute to Lizzie Rose. We didn't really know that much about each other when we were given the big one, the Breakfast Show, in 2013 – but very quickly became best friends and I loved every minute we shared on the radio. Our philosophy was simple: tell people what's going on and then make them smile. Couldn't be simpler. We've laughed at the absurd stories and cried together at the cruelty of the world. One day I'll write the truth about some of the things Lizzie did to make me laugh when I shouldn't. I love you so much Lizzie Rose and I learned so much from you during those five years of 4am starts.
The job gave me access to places I might never have been and people I may never have had the opportunity to meet. Being a radio presenter allows you to be a part of people’s lives and I’ve never taken that for granted – people are so generous with their time and often so welcoming in the most difficult of circumstances. The way people went out of their way to help us plan a birthday party for Hull's legendary 'Bee Lady' is a brilliant example of how people love their local radio station.
There are too many highlights to list but broadcasting backstage with Elton John at the KC Stadium was wonderful as were our live shows in Benidorm, being on-air as the tall ships arrived in Hull, City of Culture year, the many outside broadcasts and campaigns, the naked calendar (!) and the time that I interviewed Sir Cliff Richard without pressing record! I hadn’t been doing the job long and was shaking like a leaf but like a true pro he just said, “It's ok Carl, we'll call that a rehearsal and do it all again.”
So, thanks to the amazing journalists, outstanding presenters, fast-thinking technical and production teams, editors, managers, schedulers, engineers and receptionists for 25 incredible years. I'm sad to call it a day but pleased to have met so many fabulous people inside and outside of the BBC. Thanks for the wonderful memories.
I'm off to make some more in my brand-new role with the brilliant team at NAPA!