I had always loved the radio. I used to listen incessantly to Radio 5 live (909 medium wave) and Radio Ulster (1341 medium wave) mainly for the football. But I also enjoyed Mike Edgar’s show on Radio Ulster and plenty of music. It was only natural that when I was 17 and started a course in Media Techniques and Competences at Belvoir Tech in Belfast that I would get more into radio. This meant locking myself away with me and my music and ideas in a dark brown room in south Belfast and compiling short radio programmes and interviews for my fellow students to listen to as well as towards my course. The Christmas specials and my Oasis tribute show were my standout memories, from which no photographs and only two cassette tapes survive. I treasure them, it includes a nice 7 minute documentary (for which I got a credit) where I explained the Good Friday Agreement and then interviewed local politicians Jackie Beattie and Grant Dillon on the proposals of the agreement, ending with the line: “Is it time to get the champagne out for peace or is this agreement just another tequilla sunrise…” (cue The Eagles – Tequilla Sunrise)
The course ended in September 1998 and that was me off the air (except demoing in my bedroom, appearing on phone in on Radio Ulster and doing family Christmas comeday radio shows on Radio Drumragh [a made up name]) Five years later however I started university in Bournemouth, Dorset in September 2003 and naturally I went down to the radio induction day as they had a good university radio station there. Soon I was behind the microphone and building up my confidence again. I first had my own show on FM in January 2004. I used to play a few random tunes, one hit wonders and come off with some zany catchphrases. I used: Catch yerself on, Jurassic Park, Blueberry Muffin Head, Cheeseburger and Armadildo. My main catchphrase or tagline was “Jonny Blair on the air”. I met so many different people doing Nerve radio at Bournemouth University, spending 6 different calendar years on radio there and 5 different academic years. Pretty mental stuff.
In March 2005, I did a naked FM radio show for Comic Relief. During a two hour show every fifteen minutes I removed one item of clothing. This was on webcam, FM radio, internet radio and in the university magazine (a photo of me with my clothes off). For the last fifteen minutes of the show I had my willy out. I played Naked by Louise. Great times.
I’m grateful for Nerve Radio, I have many cassette tapes and minis discs of my shows as well as enough photos to reinforce the memory of being a radio presenter! I fondly remember shows such as the Tom and Penny breakfast show, Sally and Neil in the morning, Jody and Kim’s breakfast show, Henry Holmes Show and many other aspiring DJs in Bournemouth. I also met two Northern Irish guys Sammy Nutt and Aaron Adams doing Nerve. However on the FM I was the only one with the Northern Irish accent, which I have always tried not to lose because I prefer it to an English accent.
I’m going to go on FM 87.7 here in Dorset in March 2008, on what will probably be my final stint on radio. I enjoy so much and you get out of it what you put in. I’ll give anyone a shout out and play any song you want as long as I have it and it doesn’t break FM license rules.
And I’d just like to thank the following people for giving me the radio chance and inspiration:
Jackie Beattie – the Belfast sky won’t fall on you
Keith Thompson – for coining my catchphrase “Jonny Blair on the air” back in 1997. Legend!
Natalie Johnson – for letting me do Nerve in Bournemouth and being so happy all the time!
Jason Hawkins – for constantly putting up with my idiocy at times and lunacy that only comes with a passion for life
Lauren Dunford – for dating me and giving me some excellent inspiration in 2005
Jody Casey – for the two Jonny and Jody shows we did. Total class!
Tom Clarke – just another one of those great people you meet on life’s corridor.
Radio Stations I’ve been on – Radio Belvoir, Nerve Radio, Birst, Bath FM, Radio Ulster, Atlantic 252.
Songs I played most – Sugababes – Hole in the Head, Oasis – Stand By Me, Manic Street Preachers – A Design For Life.
Some Interviews I did – (amongst others) Jack Beattie (UUP and ex-Lord Mayor of Belfast), Grant Dillon (UKUP councillor), Jody Casey (Barman), Vanessa Lee (PR girl), Marc Shortt (President of Real Ale Society), Ben Paulley (rock star), Wee Blue Folk (rock band).
FM Shows – 44
Total number of radio shows – 231
Catchlines – Jonny Blair on the Air; Your ears are listening to me; Your day has just got better; Jurassic Park; Mary Poppin Head; Intergalatic Hedgehog chopers; Blueberry Muffinhead; Catch yerself on; Cheeseburger; Armadildo.