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Gerald's magic radio moments

Gerald Jackson
Gerald "I have a face for radio" Jackson

He's been here that long, he's part of the furniture! Gerald Jackson shares his unforgettable memories of BBC Radio Lancashire including his worst ever interview, losing his pants on air and how he nearly poked Prince Charles's eye out...

How did you first get into radio?

I started in hospital radio with Sir Jimmy Savile (he wasn't a Sir then) and worked at Leeds General Infirmary. Blagged my way in to BBC Radio Leeds in 1968 because I made a cracking cup of tea and was prepared to clean out the fish tank!

What do you remember about the first day of BBC Radio Blackburn?

There were a few first days! We came on air a month early because of the three day week and powercuts. Worked by candle light, with batteries for power before Christmas 1970. Amazing. Then we started properly at mid day on January 26th 1971. Very exciting - and with a ready built audience who heard our powercut broadcasts and were already fans of the new station.

Your personal station highlights from 1971 until today…

You must be joking! Every new thing we've done. Going on air for the first time; opening the new medium wave service in 1972 which doubled the audience overnight; live bank holiday shows from 'studio 4' (the original Radio Theatre) at King Street with a brilliant list of start guest like Les Dawson, Davy Jones from the Monkees and Pat Pheonix from 'Coronation Street'; moving here to Darwen Street...the list goes on!

Your funniest moment?

Losing my trousers up Pendle on Easter Sunday in the early 70s... don't ask!

Worst disaster on air?

Interviewing a quite big star I'd never met who had a big hit single (in the 70s)

The poor lad had a dreadful stammer and couldn't answer any of my questions on a live show. I ended up interviewing myself - we've never talked since!

Your favourite radio shows…past or present?

All of them! But I do love "Unforgettable" with its unashamed nostalgia and bring back so many memories for people. But I must mention "Sounds Local" where every week we recorded a local group who got a half hour programme of their own. It was a great showcase for local brass, pop, jazz and every other style of music. The series ran for over 20 years.

Radio hates?

Flat battery! Never enough time.

Anything or anyone really set you off on the giggles?

I laughed a lot working with Alex Entwistle. He's obviously quite young (compared to me) and I was never quite sure he got all my jokes! And he plays drums!

Anyone or anything ever scared you on air?

Gerald Jackson with Davy Jones
Gerald Jackson with Davy Jones from The Monkees

Royal outside broadcasts...I almost poked out Prince Charles' eye with a very long ariel attached to my back pack! His security people were not very impressed. I also felt my knees knocking the first time I had to introduce a live performance on stage at the Guild Hall in Preston - all those faces!

Have you ever had a tipple or two while you've been on air?

It was different in those days! I do recall one New Year's Eve show in the early 1970's when we went through a bottle or two of something alcoholic and by the end of the programme I shouldn't have been around any equipment - let along a microphone! We used to close down for the night and I had to do all the frequencies which a sober man might struggle with. There is a cassette tape somewhere (sold for charity) with my out take...needless to say I got all the numbers mixed up and wasn't even sure which station I was on! I never did it again.

Was it unusual then for people to drink while broadcasting?

It was different in those days! Again - a cultural thing - and times have changed. Ask any journalist from that era and they will tell you that having a 'liquid lunch' was part of the daily routine. Most of the men (and it was a male domain) would join the manager at the local every lunchtime for a few hours. Now that was fine because we also joined Radio Four for "The World at One" and "Woman's Hour" - which gave us two hours for drinking.

I'm not defending it but society has changed and a few pints every day with your mates in work time just isn't done anymore, is it?

Ever tempted by telly?

I bought a very big one. I have a face for radio.

What would you have done if you hadn't gone into radio?

What a good question! Teaching, I think. I do a bit of lecturing and worked in the media department at Blackburn College for three years. Kids are a great audience and you can have some brilliant banter.

What do you love about Lancashire?

The countryside - so beautiful in the summer (and the depth of winter). And of course the people who've almost accepted me now after going on for 40 years - well I did come over from Yorkshire!

Your all time top five unforgettable tunes?

Unforgettable - Nat King Cole (of course)
Any early Frank Sinatra
Any one of the orchestras from the Big Band Era
Shanghai Li l- Ruby Keeler and James Cagney
On the Sunny Side of the Street - Tommy Dorsey Orchestra
The Old Music Master - Hoagy Carmichael

And for the rest tune in at 7pm any Monday evening!

Presenter profile: Gerald Jackson
24 Jun 09 |  TV & Radio
Unforgettable remembers the war
03 Sep 09 |  TV & Radio


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