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Great Face for Radio by John Anderson

Release date: 18th September, 2009
Publisher: Know The Score Books

List Price: £9.99
Our Price: £6.99
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Great Face for Radio
By John Anderson
Know The Score Books

Sportsbookofthemonth.com price: £ 6.99, saving 30% on rrp

Earlier this year, I was invited to an independent radio station to be interviewed. My interviewer met me at reception and took me through a maze of corridors to the tiny sound-proofed studio where we spoke for perhaps ten minutes before I was ushered out. Throughout, I was astonished at the absence of any other soul and asked why this was the case. "No need for them mate," came the response. "I handle the rotation of the station's music and interviews."

One suspects that John Anderson misses the days when radio stations were buzzing centres of news-gathering and frantic, last-minute, editing of multi-coloured tapes. Today, they're usually deserted places, bereft of journalistic activity; little wonder that local radio is struggling.

It was enjoying a heyday when Anderson took his first confident steps into County Sound where he earned the princely sum of £8 a week in expenses.

He had arrived following a miserable post-school spell working for an insurance company after a mate alerted him to a student recruitment ad posted by Portsmouth's Highbury College of Technology which had launched a post graduate diploma course in radio journalism. Ignoring the fact that he wasn't a post graduate, Anderson nonetheless applied and was accepted; during his time on the south coast, he undertook placements at BBC Radio Bristol and at County Sound. So impressed were the latter that they offered him a job as dogsbody, but couldn't pay him anything other than those modest weekly expenses.

Anderson was in - and suggests that any would-be sports journalist readily accepts such minor positions as there's no saying where they might lead. In the author's case, it was to the very top of his profession. En route, he has clearly had a whale of a time.

Great Face for Radio is a particularly well-written account of a career spent almost exclusively immersed in sport (Anderson does occasionally appear as a royal funeral correspondent, though at the Queen Mother's funeral, he can't help but think, 'I bet Nicholas Witchell or Jennie Bond couldn't do West Brom against Hull.'). Such lines and musings pepper this irreverent, hilariously funny book.

After becoming sports editor at Signal Radio in Stoke, Anderson's career moved into overdrive and within no time, he was commentating on the 1988 Olympic 100 metre final without any experience of ever covering the event before. It was the race Canadian Ben Johnson won, though he was later stripped of his title after failing a drugs test, and not the last where Anderson borrowed from TS Eliot, describing the Olympic Stadium as 'the still point of the turning world' during the race build-up.

But Anderson is quick to counter-balance such literary references with his appearance in Private Eye's Colemanballs section after his insightful pronouncement, "The more experienced runners, putting all that training and practice into theory."

The book is packed with enough one-liners for Anderson to consider making them into a stand-up routine. From the then Watford manager Graham Taylor to Paul Scholes, interviewed in a gents toilet with David Beckham acting as a chaperone, Anderson's sense of timing ensures the reader is frequently laughing out loud from beginning to end of a quite marvellous tale.


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