I really like Tony Blackburn’s radio show ‘Sounds of the 60s’ (the music era that shaped me) which I listen to every Saturday morning. On the two-hour show he has a couple of ‘Magic Moments’ where someone writes in and shares something that happened in the 60s which was really a standout moment for them (A Magic Moment) and this chap’s Magic Moment was the day that the Radio London pirate ship ceased broadcasting.
Radio London was a huge part of this guy’s life and Tony Blackburn had been a DJ on Radio London. He said he was working in London, and in the office he was in they were not allowed radios, but he desperately wanted to hear the last few minutes of the station’s broadcasting, because the final song they were going to play was The Beatles ‘A Day in the Life’.
And as 3pm approached on Monday 14th August 1967, the windows in his office were open and he heard music coming from the street below. As he looked out there was a convertible car parked up with the radio on full blast and it was tuned into Radio London, so he leaned out the window and he did get to listen to the song that closed the station.
This story really resonated with me, because Radio London closing down was also a big moment for me as a teenager. I had just started my first job from leaving school in a small advertising agency just off Fleet Street, it was quite old-fashioned even then. I had only been there for a month as a production assistant and my manager Mr Phil Phillips, in his late sixties, who was a really lovely chap, quite short and round with high-waisted trousers and braces, very much ‘of the time’.
I had asked him the previous week if he would mind if next Monday, the 14th I could bring my transistor radio in and play the last ten minutes of Radio London because it was having to shut down. Mr Phillips wasn’t really aware of Pirate radio, and now had his new 16-year-old working for him, asking for his permission to listen to it.
I think that he saw how much this would mean to me and he said, ‘If it’s important to you then of course you can bring in your radio.’
On that Monday at 2.50pm I put my transistor radio on and looked out of the window into the drab courtyard surrounded by other buildings, and I listened to ‘A Day in the Life’ by The Beatles. If you know the song, you’ll know there’s a great rousing crescendo that ends the song and seems to go on almost forever, and as the music faded away, the DJ announced, “This is Radio London signing off”. And that was a sad but Magic Moment for me, and I’m sure for so many others too.
What my experience taught me, is that as a young person these things matter. When something important, something really important is going to happen to you, then let’s hope someone will be kind enough to understand and allow you to live that moment, just as Mr Phillips did for me.
Maybe you can create the time and space for others to look back on ‘Magic Moments’ of their own?