HE CUT his teeth playing records for patients as a hospital DJ.
Today Ricky Durkin of Longwood is the man behind the music that reaches more than 300,000 people a week.
Ricky, 40, is programme director at commercial station Real Radio.
He said: “It’s a massively varied role. I oversee everything that comes out of the speakers – from talent management to scheduling, overseeing the music we play, competitions, ensuring we stay within Ofcom guidelines and customer complaints.”
After studying performing arts at college in Wakefield, as a teenager, Ricky took his first steps towards a career in radio at Dewsbury District Hospital.
He said: “My mum was really into music – she knows the words to just about any song from the ’60s. We would push the sofa back and dance around to records.
“So I’ve always had an interest in music.”
He subsequently worked as a comedy sketch-writer on the now defunct Home FM, based in Lockwood.
He also had stints at stations in Carlisle, Sunderland and London, before returning to Huddersfield and Home FM.
The radio station went bust last year – three years after Ricky had left to take over at Real Radio.
“The Huddersfield market is quite a big patch – the area covered about 180,000,” he said.
“I love radio, so it’s always sad to hear stations are closing down because the industry is shrinking.”
Real Radio attracts about 312,000 listeners a week, who listen for a combined total of 3million hours.
Its target audience ranges in age from 25 to 54.
Ricky said: “You need a target listener. Our target is a mid-30s female.
“We try to reflect the lifestyle of that listener – we’re not engrossed in showbiz, we try to reflect what’s going on in the real world of people in Yorkshire.
“We share people’s concerns – rises in petrol prices, mortgages, bringing up a family.
“We try to be in touch, but we also try to provide a bit of escapism.”
The station has a licence to play virtually whatever it wants, but its play-list is based on popular trends and demand from listeners. Its current most popular artists include Lady Gaga, Adele and Jessie J.
Music from the ’80s also features heavily.
“Music falls into two categories: historic and nostalgic,” Ricky said.
“Songs can be nostalgic by reminding you of a certain time of your life. Or they can have an association with something that’s going on now by featuring on a TV advert or programme and have a historic significance.
“We play music that falls into both areas.”
Ricky believes radio will become more interactive, with social media like Twitter and Facebook playing an increasingly important role.
But he said for anyone with ambitions of getting into the industry, there was no substitute for hands-on experience.
“Cut your teeth, learn your craft, get involved in community radio, listen to yourself and critique yourself. If you have the passion, drive and experience you can be successful.”