February 14, 2014
Thanks for visiting my new website. I really appreciate it. If I could, I’d thank you all personally, perhaps with a small gift, or a poem. No, really, I would! Really… I…I…oh, it’s no use; you’ve busted me reader, with your cold hard stare. It’s not true. Even if I could thank you with a small gift or poem, I probably still wouldn’t do it, because of money, and time etc. It’s most likely I’d just say thanks. So let’s do that instead. Thanks everyone.
I wasn’t really sure what to write on this first blog. And I’m still not sure, but I’m typing it now, so I’d better think of something soon, otherwise this could get very long, and very rambly, very quickly. I think it was Ghandi who once said ‘let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start’, so bearing that in mind, I think that’s what I’ll do.
I’m not going to wang on about ‘how much I love the radio’ because all that’s obvious. So let’s cut to the juicy bits. Apart from listening to it, the first 16 years of my life were pretty uneventful radio-wise. However, when I reached that magical age, when normal teenagers were out illegally drinking, punching dogs, sitting on swings in empty parks or whatever it is that they actually did, I wasn’t with them. I had decided, that after many years of people talking at me through speakers, I’d have a go at it myself. Now, I realised that I couldn’t possibly do it alone. I needed a crack team of witty, anecdote-fuelled, angst-ridden teenagers like myself to join me. With this in mind, a couple of my best friends at the time agreed to help. The result was the ‘We Are Bud’ podcast (before you ask, the name means absolutely nothing. It just sounded good at the time, God knows why). We met up in my bedroom at boarding school 3 times, and produced a trio of hour-long shows, recorded on my phone. We stuck them up on Facebook for our friends to have a listen. Now, ‘Wake Up To Wogan’ it was not, but blimey, it felt to us like it was! Listening back now is a truly horrifying experience (but to be honest I say that about shows I did two weeks ago). For your entertainment, I’ve popped a little sample from that first ever podcast below. 16 year-old Harry… do forgive me.
Then, a funny thing happened at the end of my school career. I didn’t get any University offers, despite the numerous times I told them I was a genius. So, suddenly I found myself with a year in front of me, and no idea what to do with it. I mean, I’d have to work, but actual, genuine work is rubbish. I hate it. So, I decided that I’d try and make some more podcasts, alongside the job I took in the local pub. Calls to the ‘We Are Bud’ team were made. One had gone to University, but the other was still kicking around. And so, the ‘Harry and Chris Podcast’ was formed. These were recorded in my room at home, on a genuine microphone, and were a marginal improvement on the ‘We Are Bud’ stuff. We had stupid jingles and features, and the occasional guest, and we stuck them all up on iTunes. We got better over time. In fact, after a year of podcasting, we were invited to play a local comedy festival! ‘So why did Harry and Chris end?’ I hear you cry. Well. My dear friend and former colleague Christopher made a slight balls-up during our live (and final) show, at the festival. During an inspired feature entitled ‘Hit Chris in the face with this’, a 5 year-old child was invited up onto the stage with us. Chris was blindfolded, and the child was given a banana to hit him in the face with. Upon impact, my old friend Chris declared that the incident ‘reminded him of the Tulisa sex tape’. A stony silence followed, and needless to say, that was the end of that. (Again, for your entertainment, I’ve included a ‘Best of* Harry and Chris thing). *Best-of is a term used very loosely.
Thankfully, the year passed without further drama, and I took up my place at York University. Now, when I arrived, I had absolutely no idea that ((URY)) was such a phenomenal student station. It was completely by chance that I came to York to study – and fate, the Buddha, the spirit of the forest, the aura of Nicholas Cage, whatever you want to call it – ensured that University Radio York and I would have a very special relationship.
I didn’t do my first ‘The Harry Whittaker Show’ until late November 2012 (I’d hit Fresher’s Week very hard). Again, quite by chance, I was scheduled after two people who would go on to play quite a significant role in my radio life – William Chalk and Charles Lewis, of the former SRA Gold-winning- ‘Chalk and Charles Show’. The boys stuck around in the office after their show, and heard some of my debut on the station. We got chatting, and the next week, I was invited on their show, and later cast in their Christmas pantomime. They told me to apply for a flagship show on the station, and after Christmas, low and behold, I was given one.
And thus, The Harry Whittaker Show in its current format was born. With the new, longer show, I recruited my best friend, Andy, to join me on air, and later, Bex, to produce the show. The current show team might be about the best I get to work with in my entire career, so we’re having all of the fun whilst it lasts.
Many hours of ludicrous chat and ridiculous features later, I found myself sat in front of the legend that is Capital’s Simon Hirst, ahead of the Student Radio Award Nominations for 2013. I’d entered three categorises – ‘Best Entertainment’, ‘Best Newcomer’, and ‘Best Male’. I hoped that the hard work I’d put in during the year would result in an Entertainment nomination – I really felt we deserved one – but aside from that, I didn’t expect anything else. My jaw dropped when Hirsty ended up reading my name out 3 times that evening. (I may have actually teared up a bit. There’s no fooling you, I definitely did.) I couldn’t believe it. I was speechless. Three nominations was mind-blowing. It was really that moment that truly cemented in my mind what I’d already known. I had to pursue the thing I want to do more than anything else in the world – present on the radio.
A month or so later, sat in the IndigO2, having bossed all of the free Champagne, I went on to win a Silver Newcomer, and a Bronze Entertainment award. (Yes, I know. No golds, but Tom Daley didn’t get one either, and we all still love him). That night I met some of my radio heroes – Scott Mills, Greg James, Tim ‘the big dawg’ Westwood, Annie mac, Trevor Nelson, Steve Lamacq – the list goes on really. What a night.
Anyway, that sort of brings us up to speed. ‘The Harry Whittaker Show’ continues, and as always, being on air is the highlight of my week. Thanks for reading the first blog. They’ll get shorter. And more interesting. Probably. But thanks for reading ‘a brief history of me and the radio’. x