Jean Doyle

Jean Doyle

It was Ray Stuart who first said “What’s an old boiler like you doing in a place like this?”. I didn’t slap his face because I can’t reach up that far and I knew it was just his funny way of saying “Nice to be working with you again” — I think. I worked with Ray in another Sheffield broadcasting estaminet, if that’s the right word.

The name “Old Boiler” stuck, but I didn’t expect Keith Skues to be so rude. “What’s an old boiler like you doing here?” he said the other day. Before I could retaliate by pointing out how his nose is longer than mine — not much, but enough — he went on “I want you to tell people all about yourself. Write it down.”

So I pulled my shawl round my rheumaticky shoulders, picked up my pencil in my arthritic fingers and pondered, clicking my false teeth absent mindedly. I got quite carried away. “I’m just 21,” I wrote, “36, 24, 36, blonde and fascinating …” No it wouldn’t do. If Ray Stuart didn’t blow that, then my kids would.

Life history then, for real: born in a South Wales mining village; moved to foreign parts (England) to be more or less educated because my father thought it was safer than going on the stage, which was what I wanted to do at that time; got married and moved around the country having babies in various places and finally ended up in Sheffield fifteen years ago. Here I’ve taught and lectured in several establishments. Suddenly local radio hit Sheffield in the shape of BBC Radio Sheffield and I found myself doing more and more odd bits on the air. I realised that this was what I wanted to do more than anything else. I got some training and made many friends. A lot of the work I did there was in the field of consumer affairs and the research involved had to be meticulous and accurate. Even when you know you’re right, it’s a bit off-putting when a trader threatens to sue you for what you’ve said on air — and that happened. Even worse for my piece of mind, I came off air once to find that two plain clothes policemen were waiting to see me. I presented myself, white faced and trembling, but it was all right. They only wanted some more details about a dubious door-step salesman that both they and I had been investigating.

And then came Hallam. I still don’t know quite how I came to be one of the team in the consortium seeking the Sheffield contract and putting forward our proposals to the IBA, but I know my nerves haven’t been the same since.

My passion for radio survived, and I became Women’s Editor at Radio Hallam. You might wonder what that entails. Well, I produce ‘Tis Liz every weekday afternoon, which means that I dash in and out of the studio with things Liz Davies has forgotten. Oh, and sometimes she lets me sharpen her pencils. I also produce the twice weekly programme of home and family interests presented in an informal way by Liz and myself. The afternoon programme consists of music and chat with a lot of regular guests, all of whom have become firm friends to us and to our listeners. We try to cover all the things that interest women — maybe that’s why there’s also a large male audience for the programme. Homebase has the same mixture of music and chat with more emphasis on chat but we still hope that it’s a friendly programme. We cover anything that’s of interest to the family from do-it-yourself to items about the countryside. One of our regular spots on a Tuesday evening has become tremendously popular. That’s when our solicitor comes in to answer listeners’ problems with his own blend of expertise and understanding.

There are a few other things that I do. I bandage fingers, write letters, fetch sandwiches, present the Sunday request programme from time to time, invite guests into the studio, mend bachelors’ torn clothes …

It’s a great life working at Hallam. And the best part of all is when listeners write in or phone to say how much they enjoy any programme that comes under my direction. That’s what I’m here for — to make sure that you hear what you enjoy and enjoy what you hear. And that’s what an old boiler like me is doing in a place like this!

Jean Doyle
1975 ● THIS IS TRANSDIFFUSION