Jason King

Radio, to quote Daniel Ricciardo – “I never left, just moved aside for a little while”

Great feeling heading back on air after an unplanned 18 month break. I always knew it would take some time to secure a gig after returning from the UAE, but nobody could have predicted COVID 19 and the impact it would have on the world, let alone the radio industry, an industry I love.

Force Radio will be my on-air home from Monday 13th September 2021. A new online commercial radio station that will target the current forces community, retired service personal, first responders, prison officers and the emergency services. That doesn’t mean its exclusive, it just has a target audience in mind like any other commercial radio station. Listening online is easy via ForceRadio.net with mobile apps and smart speaker integration to come, along with focused social media.

Very impressed with what the Force Radio team have achieved in a short space of time and who they have been talking to about establishing the station, some of the best in the business.

Station software is provided via PlayoutOne’s WebVT system that is cloud based, with everything a radio station needs included. Very easy to access remotely and voicetrack shows from anywhere in the world. I’ll be on air as live Monday to Friday from 2pm-4pm.

Really looking forward to seeing what the station achieves. About time that the current forces broadcaster had some proper competition, which will raise standards across the board.

Have a listen and let me know what you think www.forceradio.net

Today I Made An Elderly Customer Cry

This afternoon I delivered food to a friendly old couple in a local village close to home. They are always chatty and concerned about holding me up for too long. Today they return some fresh bread, I ask why? The response, we asked for it to be sliced and we’re of an age where are hands don’t grip too well so can’t slice it ourselves.

I said OK no problem, I’ll return it to the store and take it off your bill. Driving around the rest of my shift I thought we can do more for that couple.

When I arrived back in Oswestry I asked my shift manager if we could get it sliced and I’d return it to them as a gift from the store on my journey home? She said what a lovely idea.

15 minutes on I was outside the couples house giving the lady two loaves of bread. Her reaction was a face full of tears, lots of thanks and she said ‘that’s service with a big star’.

In my professional career I’ve had people cry before winning cars, loads of cash, holidays etc, but to gift someone £2 worth of bread is way more satisfying than all of that. Customer service is the key to retaining customers and growing your business.

Today it’s been lovely to see that happen in such a simple, uncomplicated way #customerservice #deliverydriver #helpingpeople

You Must Stay at Home – Lockdown Life One Year On

Fair to say March 23rd 2020 was a life changing day for everyone in the UK with a full national lockdown imposed, something we are still dealing with and will be for at least another 12/18 months whilst the world catches up with the vaccine programme.

March 23rd 2020 was just 15 days after I returned full-time to the UK after spending the previous 3 years working for Radio 2 in Abu Dhabi. It wasn’t my choice to return home, but having been sacked via email on Boxing Day whilst on holiday in the UK I was left with little choice having tired as best I could to continue my broadcast career in the UAE.

Sorting out your life is a complex and costly process in the UAE with rental contracts to end early, internet accounts to close, a car to sell, arrange shipping for cycles and a few other items I wanted to come home with. In total to leave the UAE properly with no debt and the ability to return for work, holiday or just have the ability to travel via the country at any time cost me over £5,000. This alongside a rather turbulent time in my personal life and fighting an illegal termination case against a semi government owned organisation stress levels were probably best described as extremely high.

The company narrowly avoided a court case calling me into the office 2 days before the case was due to heard and offered to settle for the full amount I would have been awarded by the court. Long story short, you cannot terminate an ex-pat whilst they are out of the country. Something the HR team at Abu Dhabi Media admitted in an email that they copied me in on by mistake! I believe if they had spoken with me and not ignored me totally for 2 months, despite my best efforts we could have resolved things in a much nicer, less stressful and costly way for all involved.

Turns out I had been dismissed to save costs at Radio 2, although the remaining staff had been told something different, but that’s the official reason from some very senior people within the company. So, with a nice amount of money in the bank I finally returned to the UK.

It would be very unfair to not to acknowledge a select few who had my back during an extremely tough time in the UAE. A time when you learn who are true friends and who are just people you once worked with.

Now back in the UK I had a fair amount of ‘chats’ lined up with media companies about opportunities and was confident that something would come along in a few months. I couldn’t have been more wrong, as lockdown was announced all of these ‘chats’ got put on hold and haven’t returned.

What to do now? Only one choice, get a job and quick as I wouldn’t be entitled to any help having been out of the system for 3 years and that’s only right. I jumped online and applied for two jobs one at the Post Office as a driver and one at Morrison’s as part of the new home delivery team at my local store. A very quick chat led to an offer from Morrison’s and within a week I was trained and delivering food to people across Shropshire and Wales.

What a scary time to be knocking on people’s doors, exposing yourself to the virus potentially each and every day. I’m proud of what I’ve done for the last 12 months, it doesn’t pay radio money at £10 an hour, but it has meant I’ve been able to pay all my household bills in full and on time every month. With the money left over I’ve put food on the table, had the odd bottle of red wine and learnt that the life I was living in the UAE was totally unrealistic. Home delivery has also kept me mentally and physically fit.

Being home full-time has also meant I’ve been able to look after Mum and Dad in a way that I never considered before. From buying shopping for them at the start of lockdown, to dropping parcels at the post office after Mum decided she didn’t want that thing from John Lewis, filling the back of my car with birdseed and compost for the garden, grabbing a cheap bunch of flowers for Mum, real basic stuff but massively important to keep them happy and smiling as they’ve spent 12 months not going anywhere because of shielding rules. Well, apart from the odd trip to Hospital and the Doctors – But that’s another story.

Lockdown life has also led me the Harri, a Labrador I found on a Welsh Hill farm delivering food. He was 8 weeks old and on November 1st he arrived at my home in Shropshire. I’d thought about a dog in the UAE but the climate is too harsh in my view, so decided against it. Harri has been so important for me living on your own and not having the ability to meet anyone, he’s also a reason to get up early and get outside before work. I’m sure we’ve plenty of fun adventures ahead as lockdown eases.

Career wise I’ve no idea what will happen next? I’d love to continue with my radio career but suspect that will be almost impossible in the UK. My home delivery job has taught me an awful lot about customer service, teamwork, people, problem solving, selling the company and yourself on every doorstep, getting your head down and getting the job done in some awful conditions across the winter. I didn’t expect the ever have a job where I got soaked to the skin, walked round in wet boots and had cracked bleeding fingers because of the cold weather, that was a million miles away from nice air conditioned radio studios.

The biggest life lesson I’ve learnt in the past 12 months is surround yourself with good people, your people, people you can rely on, people who will support you in ways you never thought you’d need. When the going gets tough, get stuck in, work the problem, don’t crumble or runaway and hide because that’s the easiest route to take.

2021 post lockdown I’m ready for you.

Lock Down Job

Not my traditional line of work delivering food for Morrison’s, yet hugely rewarding helping people during this unique period of time. I know radio opportunities will return but for now I’m doing my bit.

Once again blown away by my lock down job. Delivering for the store community team, to people who are at home because of the situation we all find ourselves in and it’s unwise for them to venture to the supermarket.

A lovely old lady tapped on the window of my van after I dropped to her next door neighbour and asked if I was from Morrison’s (we have plain white vans currently)? I said yes, and she gives me her neatly hand written shopping list to save phoning it in to the store. She adds it’s a big order so no rush just by the weekend please.

Her complete list was for just 21 items which I’m guessing is a weeks food and treats? You know you’re doing something pretty important for people on days like today.

Getting Into Radio

This page originally appeared on my website probably 10 years ago and is still as valid today.

Like most industries radio is a tough place at the moment, but the rewards are still good if you’re prepared to make some effort and the odd sacrifice.

My top ten tips on how to get into radio:

10. Be Flexible: That initial break will come when you least expect it

9. Right Place at the Right Time: Not every opening is advertised, start sending emails and calling PC’s (radio station bosses) to find out what’s going on

8. Foot in the Door: I started making tea at Beacon Radio in Wolverhampton

7. Unpaid Work: It is all about getting into the station, be it doing promo work or even cleaning out a store cupboard

6. Travel: If you can travel outside of your home town or city your options are far greater

5. Hospital Radio: Learn the ropes and make mistakes. I started out doing a Friday night show at Sandwell Hospital Radio which proved to be a great training ground

4. Tech Op: I did this at Beacon whilst presenting on Hospital Radio; it gave me a chance to use professional gear and get a real insight into the workings of a proper radio station.

3. Ask Questions: Once you get into a station, ask plenty of questions and listen to the answers; you’ll be surprised what you can learn

2. Listen to the Radio: I was a sales rep before landing a full time gig which gave me the chance to travel the country and listen to many different stations. It is much easier to do this today with the internet

1. Keep Trying: It took me about two years from starting out at Beacon to actually getting my first on-air shift. If you get knocked back, try again and again. You won’t land Radio 1 breakfast with 6 months experience but with a few years under your belt you might.

Email any other questions and I wish you the best of luck.