One of the insults aimed at us teachers, since the days when looking after and educating your bairns was deemed a noble profession worthy of thanks and praise, is that we are ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. This is generally followed by then well-worn adage of ‘those who can, do, those who can’t, teach.’ of which, I concede, there may be an element of truth.

That said, many of us educators, over the age of 30, who have not been fast tracked to management, have other trades, skills, or strings to their bows, frequented long before the allure of the classroom came-a-knocking.

One of my ‘skillsets’ is that of ‘radio’, where I presented, over the course of 20 or so years, weekly shows on hospital radio, amateur radio and, very nearly, commercial radio (choosing not to take on the ‘gig’ as the pay was akin to the minimum wage).

I was also the columnist for over a decade for ‘On Air’ magazine before Newsquest came-a-knocking and, well, I like to think I know a little bit about the wireless, even if I’m not Tony Blackburn standard, mate.

As an art form, it is unparalleled. Without the ability to offer gloss and FX, the presenter, if not worth their mettle, is soon found out and yet we find ourselves, but a few months into the new year, mourning the loss of the two greatest DJs of the last quarter century.

I was saddened to hear of the death of Steve Wright and remember fondly listening to him, non confrontational and having a laugh, as he entertained the masses, day after day and year after year. It does seem peculiar that his death came hot on the heels of the BBC’s stupidity in dumping him, and I cannot help but wonder why, when we have real nuggets and polished jewels, we seem hell bent on throwing them out with the trash for no good reason whatsoever.

Just as sad, although it is not a death, is the wonderful Frank Skinner who, although not a DJ, has lasted 15 years on Absolute Radio to become the most talented, at ease with himself and funny radio presenters I have ever heard in my half a century on planet earth.

I listened a few weeks ago, live in my car, as Frank explained how he was informed he and his team’s contract would not be renewed. I believed it was a joke at first, but it soon became apparent that he was as taken aback as his loyal listenership prior to social media deeming it ‘ageist’ and I cannot disagree.

Aged 67, Frank is as bright as a button and his comedy is a ‘creeper’. He is acutely intelligent with his humour: he will say something, and the penny will not drop with others for a good few seconds as he, throughout his show, continues to regale with amusing stories, observations, and anecdotes, together weaving a rich comedic tapestry that other comedians and radio presenters can only dream of.

He admitted on air, with a jovial tone, that he did not take the ‘sacking’ well and his contract will not be renewed come May. Along with Ken Bruce, another complete package, but aged 72, they have been dumped like a bad smell and the only reason that can be garnered is that their advancing years are deemed detrimental.

Sadly, after many decades of listening to Absolute Radio, I will be an ex-listener as I undertake a protest against a decision that, although not as bad as the Decca chap who turned down the Beatles, is rank lunacy, undertaken by some work experience dweeb who seems hell bent on changing the corporate culture of a radio station that had found the perfect blend. I will follow Frank to wherever he lays his radio head next, and there should be no shortage of suitors as we once again demonise experience and excellence in a perverse game of change which ultimately alienates those who put food on the table...

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher