Aw this has got to be my favourite card prompt so far and I’m sad I don’t have loads of time to write this one today.

 

My Job as a Traffic Tart

In October 2001 when I was 19, I was driving home on the motorway and heard an advert on my local radio station for a new ‘traffic tart’. (Yes that was the official job title).

A phone number audition line was given out and I used an eyeliner in the glove compartment of the car to write down the number on my leg – all as I drove at 70mph home up the M6!

Cutting a long story short I auditioned on the jamline, got a live audition, my family almost crashed the radio station email servers when they emailed to vote for me and a week later I was told live on air I’d got the job!

It was initially only a short contract but I wanted to prove myself so got involved in everything I could – helping the promo team, assisting the marketing manager, ghost writing newspaper columns and helping manage the content on the website.

I was asked to stay when my contract ended and soon I was on both the breakfast show and drivetime shows on 97.4 Rock FM and sister station Magic 999 as traffic and travel presenter and co-host.

Although the pay was terrible and controversially the pay gap between male and female presenters was massive, I just adored what I did. I got to be silly and fun every day. I got to meet people I’d idolised throughout my life and I got to make a difference where I could.

 

Highlights of my radio career include;

 

  • Running the London marathon for our station charity Cash 4 Kids – twice!
  • Telling Will Young during the third time I interviewed him that I thought he was a bit of a ‘chopper’ and him opening up about his mental health and apologising for how he’d been in the past – it made the papers!
  • Snogging Darius Danesh and then recoiling in horror as he started singing to me in my face so I made an escape (my girlfriends will love this one – we howl every time ‘Colourblind’ comes on the radio and whatsapp record it into our group)
  • Meeting one of my best friends Lisa Snell and getting to hang with her every morning for a couple of years as we broadcast together
  • Being asked to report on Creamfields and meeting my future husband!
  • Being locked in a shop window for 10 days and raising £20,000 for a local disabled football team – highlights video below
I’ve just found this video on YouTube that I have never come across before! It is the round-up audio of our 10 days in the shop windows. It includes Shaun asking my dad to marry me and his proposal. Oh I am an emotional mess!!!! God bless this Journal challenge and all the memories I’m uncovering. It is brilliant. 

 

My highlights continued (including THAT Paul Danan off his face video!)

  • Being cast in professional pantomine each year – this particular year Paul Danan got off his face and swore at the 1000s of families in the crowd at the Christmas light switch on. Check out this genius video report from our local ITV news station and laugh along with how much of a hoity toity knob I am on this!
Ha ha ha ha ha I tweeted him about this recently and he replied. No hard feelings Danan but you were a bit of a tit.

 

  • Being hypnotised for my phobia of dogs and getting sent to the RSPCA centre under hypnosis to get over my fear (hilarious how bad it was when you now realise I have my own two dogs)
  • Sleeping in the Bodies Revealed exhibition and broadcasting from there surrounded by dead bodies
  • Returning from my travels in Australia, surprising all my family live on air and realising these were my new jingles

She Went Down Under

by 97.4 Rock FM Breakfast Show Sting 1

The Aussies Got The Ashes Back

by 97.4 Rock FM Breakfast Show Sting 2

  • Sitting in a bath of horse manure live on air
  • Landing a plane blindfold while broadcasting
  • Doing a Wing Walk (on the Utterly Butterly plane!)
  • Doing various bungee jumps, sky diving and other stupid stuff I’d have to sign disclaimers for
  • Having tarantulas crawl over my head live on the radio
  • Broadcasting from a Hot Tub on the A59 main road through Preston and stopping traffic – also made the front page of the local paper
  • Getting married LIVE ON AIR! At the top of Blackpool Tower
  • Artificially inseminating a cow live on Hot FM in Australia!
I could go on and on and on. So many great times. So many wonderful people who have remained friends (some of them listeners who became friends too!). I miss not having to take work home or having a massive to do list. Radio was very much about being in the moment and reacting to whatever situation you are in. It definitely gave me a great foundation for my further life in marketing, communications, PR, writing and presenting.

I’ll leave you with this video which kind of sums up radio well. It’s Adam Weighell from the Juice FM Breakfast Show trying to put me off as I read the traffic. So I did a bulletin that was double in length – just to see him suffer! Ah if only you could see what goes on when those microphones are off!

It’s such a shame it wasn’t a sustainable wage as I’d give my left nip to do this full time again. What a wonderful wonderful way to spend 13 years of my working life.

Radio… I will always love you.

Gem x

Gemma Dee Ray

Gemma Dee Ray

Author

Gemma is the author of Self Discipline: A How-to Guide to Stop Procrastination and Achieve your Goals in 10 Steps.

Less “do as I say and you will be great” and more “I was a mess so I did this and it helped” self help style, the irony is Gemma had no self discipline to write the book at first so it was almost never published!

With consistent 5* reviews, self discipline speaking engagements in schools and businesses alongside support groups and coaching, Gemma is in demand on the subject. Claiming she “actually wrote this book as a bible for myself” Gemma has used the simple tips and tricks to overcome her self-proclaimed lifelong 4% consistency effort rate when it comes to self discipline and is winning at life!