Once upon a time .....
It was the Summer of '92. My graduation Summer. A time of lounging, partying and occasional consideration of my career options. Dream FM was holding a club night. I got talking to one of the the DJ's who invited me along to his show. From there I blagged my own spot. It helped that I was an aspiring female DJ. A rare commodity back in the day. But I was good. Talented.
I grew up on Dream FM. It was my first residency. I discovered my niche experimenting with mixes that blended together contrasting genres of house music. I really indulged my tastes. It was the spring board to my true desire; to spin deep house and techno to clubbers all over Europe. Dream FM was the crooked fairy godmother that granted my wish.
Every week H, a heavy box of twelve inches, and I made the pilgrimage to the station. We parked the rusty maroon VW, braved the stench of the public lifts, before finally arriving at the summit of the tower block. Dream FM was situated in the foisty living room of a flat that I guessed belonged to someone associated with the darker shades of grey. An ex criminal probably. The radio equipment and record decks were set up on a sturdy trestle table in front of a large rectangular window. From this portal, the urban sprawl of Leeds stretched before me as I spun my show for two hours. H manned the phones while I played my records, coordinated adverts, and spouted shout outs, and mostly nonsensical nonsense over the microphone. I preferred to let the music do the talking.
Because Dream FM was a pirate station it periodically moved location but the police never really interfered turning a blind eye to the illegality. The station became so popular that it often featured in the local press. One year it applied for a legal license but lost out to competition over the Pennines. This outcome sadly meant the abrupt sinking of Dream Fm's ship. I moved onto another pirate station, Frequency FM, based in the South.
Dream FM was a blast. I made friends, propitious connections and even became the voice over for many of the station's adverts. My voice was thankfully dripping in reverb so I was rendered virtually unidentifiable. I even had a fan base. Most of the fan mail I received came courtesy of the inmates from Armley jail. These were not serious criminals but petty offenders, young adults who I presumed had started out on the disadvantaged side of life. Rereading some of the letters made me think about what set these characters on their paths. Poverty? Lack of opportunity? Exclusion? Who knows ... And now after all this time I like to imagine they got out and got on with their lives. I hope they became wiser, discovered insight, found new purpose, retrained, had families .....
"I mean when you put that top tune on and said "this ones for you" I couldn't stop myself jumping up and giving the door a good old bang. Thanks very much as it was. Totally appreciated."
"Nice one for the Shouts and Toons. Keep me going and many alike. So once again keep it coming fast .... I used to go to the After Dark at Morley. I'm sure you know the place. Kicking ant it?. That's how come I ended up in this predicament. Just a sound geezer trying to keep the smiling faces around."
"So just like to set one thing straight, if it wasn't for your set Armley jail just wouldn't be the same at the weekend. So keep doing what you do best and keep those kicking vibes coming our way. So from all the inmates and especially myself. Max respect."
"Dearest Tantra ... Well I'm listening and kicking and its down to you. You can imagine it would be a downer in jail but know there's always hope and mine is your set so do your best and put my shouts over the air." (female)
"The show is excellent as ever so keep them sounds coming. As long as you're playing them. I'm smiling."
I even dare to think that my radio show - the emotive power of the music I played - gave these inmates hope to start afresh, or at least to imagine new possibilities. Was it conceited of me to think that? I hope not.
Thanks for tuning in .....
So once upon a time, what did you enjoy (or dislike) doing, seeing or creating? It could be anything. What were you like many moons ago? Do you have a once upon a time story to tell or picture to share? It could be a happy, sad or humorous tale. The skies the limit. So do Link up below and grab the badge code ... and don't forget to tweet #onceuponatime. This is a monthly meme.
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