Tuesday, 26 May 2009

The Undisputed King of Radio

THE king is back on primetime radio this September - years late - but let's salute Danny Baker nonetheless.
He's taking over the 9am Saturday morning slot that Eamonn Holmes has made a no go zone with his twin inabilities of not being able to read from a script written by the producer or finish a sentence without the words 'so it is.'
It seems BBC Radio 5 controllers have finally worked out that if you want quality radio you hire radio innovators with an inate feel for the medium rather than TV personalities with so-called cross platform appeal.
For this witness the welcoming back of Christian O'Connell while the lamentable radio presences of Holmes and 606's Tim Lovejoy are out the door. (Just Donal McIntyre and Gabby Logan left, the latter is great on TV but so lamentable of a Sunday morning on 5 Live that it's enough to unlapse the most lapsed of Catholic mass goers.)
But Baker's recent sojourn on the Tuesday night 606 Pirate Ship football phone-in (which finished tonight) was a bright, shining beacon of inventive, funny, interactive radio delight.
Baker has always had the ability to conjur radio gold from the smallest of thoughts - what's the wierdest place you've played football*? What are the wierdest things you've used for goals?** What's the most dangerous thing you've ever got into a ground?*** Do you know anyone whose name sounds like a football club?****
Anyone who listens to his Radio London show every day on the net will know how he keeps a cast of returning callers (Keithy Baby et al)and letters from across the globe spinning like plates above his head. Even those of us from outside the capital - hey Beeb there are some of us - are interested in the minutiae of life inside the M25.
His encyclopedic knowledge of rock, befitting an old punk NME hack, saw him get his mate Teletext Alex to do renditions of Bohemian Rhapsody and Slade's Merry Christamas Everyone with every lyric changed to footballers' names.

However, this series, one of his hardy annual questions,(you get used to them after years as a member of the Baker Treehouse listening to his dog and pony shows) got an incredible response. He asked have you ever stolen anything from a football ground and got a story about someone who lifted former Swindon keeper Fraser Digby's tortoise shell comb from his washbag.
He said let's get someone to write a song about that and 29 weeks later a host a parody songs with the title Fraser Digby's Washbag in title were the crowning glory of a show which may have saved the 606 from the banalities of a London-based Liverpool fans calling for Rafa Benitez's head while Alan Green goes off on a sanctimonious rant under the misapprehension that anyone gives a monkey's what he thinks.
Even Mark Lawson discussed it on Radio 4 as did The Word magazine massive.

Oh that radio is always this good, luckily I've now got about a hundred hours of podcasts featuring the Baker which I can listen to over and over again. (Most of the most glorious examples come from an ill-fated attempt at making money from podcasting with the ill-fated download operation Wippit a year or so ago, free downloads here.)
For the motherload of Baker and Danny Kelly's brilliant TalkSport shows from more than 10 years ago (I used to rush home from reporting on Tranmere to hear them) go to this site (more than a 1gb though) to download.
I don't want to let light in on magic but when Danny tugs your coat tail, it's worth listening. The 606 podcasts can be downloaded at iTunes, all 30 hours, you lucky, lucky people.
Roll on 9am on September 5.

* Columbian jungle with cocaine as the lines
** Dead lions
*** An antique blunderbuss and a set of chef's knives
**** Debbie County

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