Pilot of the airwaves

Entertainer Brian JamesWHEN 16-year-old Brian James shut the front door of his family home and set off for the capital he had no idea where he was going or what was going to happen.

What he did know was that by hook or by crook he was going to get into the music industry.

More than 50 years later music is still a big part of life for the new station manager of Faithful Radio at nearby Martham.

It was the Swinging 60s and London was the place to be. Faced with the prospect of marriage, kids and a job in a factory, the teenage Brian took a brave decision to follow his dream instead.

He’d always loved music. Recognising that, his father paid for him to go to night school to learn to read and write music.”

But as adulthood beckoned he found himself being encouraged to settle down with his girlfriend or take a factory job.

He said: “I didn’t want either so I told my parents I was going to stay with friends in London. I’d never been to London in my life.”

He hitch-hiked down to the metropolis and set about knocking on the doors of potential employers in the trade, trying to get them to listen to his work. He slept rough until he made a friend who had a kebab shop and offered him a place to sleep.

Getting a foot in the door was tough and there were many rejections. Then, just as he had made the decision to give it one last go before returning home and taking a job in the factory with his dad, he made a break through.

He knocked on the door of a music publishing firm and was invited in by a man called Tony Peters who listened to his music. He liked one of the songs, handed Brian his train fare home and told him he would be in contact if it was used.

Not long afterwards Brian found himself presented with a cheque for £1,000 as advance payment and a job with the company.

He didn’t have a bank account, so someone from the firm took him into a local branch to set one up.

A couple of years later, having got himself established in the music business and having met some of the top performers of the day, he headed home because he missed his mum. He took with him a contacts book bulging with the telephone numbers of top musicians and performers.

Work as a compere and singer took him on to cruise ships and Warner Group holiday sites. He even worked as an extra in the holiday camp sit com Hi de Hi and got to know star Paul Shane.

With the arrival of the 1980s Brian found himself on the high seas working on P&O ships. It was a good gig, entertaining guests as they sailed in the Carribbean. It was the best part of two decades before he decided it was time to return to port for the last time.

He retired to Winterton a few years ago, but still the lure of the industry was strong. So he got involved with Harbour Radio and then helped to launch Smart Radio 18 months ago, using his show not just for music, but to interview people like 80s star Paul Young and former Westlife singer Brian McFadden.

Now he has taken the reins at Faithful Radio, with assistance from wife Carol and is bringing in new presenters with the aim of opening it up to a wider audience.

The station, based at Cornerstone Baptist Church, broadcasts music and discussion as well as debate, news and study with a Christian theme.

“We can discuss local issues and encourage people to contact us if they want to say anything. If they want to come in and chat about their events they can,” said Brian. “It’s nice and easy and relaxed.”

“It is a lovely little studio based inside the church and our listeners are from all over the world.”

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