For more than 40 years he’s been on our airwaves, spanning generations of listeners, of ‘pranks, cranks and banned lists’ and of genuinely ground-breaking radio.
“I’m Marmite, I know that,” says Pete. “But whatever people say about me I embrace it, and when you do then they usually end up thinking, actually he’s alright isn’t he?
“People didn’t always agree with me, a lot of the time they didn’t, but if I was having a go at somebody it wasn’t to shock people, it was just how I honestly felt. I didn’t want to pretend, I couldn’t because in Liverpool they would have seen right through that and I’d never have lasted.
“They loved trying to wind me up and telling me to f*** off, calling me a lizard and everything else, but more than anything I think they loved the passion I had for the show because they could tell it was real.”
Pete, now 74, began his radio career to keep his profile up in the city while he toured the country as a stand-up comedian. “Never in a trillion years did I think it would become my job,” he admits.
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— The Guide Liverpool (@TheGuideLpool) May 10, 2020
After starting reviewing new record releases on Radio Merseyside, on a half-hour show called Never Mind the Price, he moved to join City more than four decades ago.
When his idea to review soaps on a Saturday morning took off, he was offered his first phone-in chat show. Disillusioned after having a TV series cancelled, and wanting to cut down on the 70,000 miles a year he was travelling as a comedian, he took it.
Working first from Stanley Street and then from the Radio City Tower when the station relocated in 2000, he’s proudly become a late-night fixture, breaking stories that have made headlines around the world.
Callers have included Paul McCartney and Peter Kay, he’s match-made 10 weddings (and gone to all of them) and he’s created a family of listeners from 10 to 100 years old. Like all families, sometimes they fall out, but they’re loyal too.
“Like Pat the soap lady,” says Pete. “She came on one day and talked about soaps and I said, ‘you should do this again’. She rang in every week for 28 years.”
Over the years, he’s worked alongside many fellow presenters and producers, including The Guide Liverpool’s Jay Hynd.
Jay was Pete’s producer from 2002 to 2009, “and they were some of the best times of my 40 years,” he says.
So, as his show comes to an end, The Guide Liverpool asked Pete to look back over some career milestones …
“We went international by being the first radio show to break the news that Michael Jackson had died. Jay spotted the first story from America while we were on air and all of a sudden the two of us were both on the phone between calls just tracking down everyone we could. I was ringing Sharon Osborne and Uri Geller, and Sharon had only just been told so she came straight on air. The reaction we got was unbelievable and our content was picked up by lots of news outlets including Sky.”
“We had a young boy on air who was threatening to take his own life. I left the show with Jay, they played music while I was out of the studio, I phoned the police and I found him and took him to the Royal. The story, which they headlined Last Night a DJ Saved My Life, went right around the world.”
The amount of people who listened to me in prison was phenomenal so when we went into Walton it felt like everybody knew me. I walked out onto the biggest wing, and hundreds of them were cheering ‘Pricey’, then one spat on me from upstairs. You can’t imagine the fear I felt inside, but I just looked up and said ‘d’you know what gents, he’s only upset because I won’t be his b***h!’ – they all applauded and he came down and shook my hand.”
One of the saddest moments was when we lost Terry, one of our regular callers, while he was on the show. He was having a real humdinger argument with two women and I heard his line go dead, which I knew he wouldn’t normally do. I rang the police and a taxi driver phoned in who knew where Terry lived, so he took me to his house, we kicked the front door in and found him dead.
“When James was killed, we were doing five hours a night because the whole city was grieving. We’d have 200 calls at the end still waiting to talk, every night, it was such a terrible time. But we found people who’d seen James being walked away, so we were really able to help with the case. I became friends with Denise and I went on marches with her, that’s how much it took over my life.”
The night Rhys Jones was killed Merseyside Police turned to Pete & Jay for help in getting information about his tragic death, an appeal was launched live on air and the city came together to help find the killer.
Peter Kay rang in as a listener as he was leaving the Echo Arena after his show
“Jay said to me ‘Peter Kay’s on the phone’ and I wanted to say ‘yeah, Peter Kay, my a**e!’ but it turned out he liked phone-ins, he got lots of ideas from them, and he used to listen to my show. He rang in a couple of times over the years including once when had Sally Lindsay with him and he included it on one of his DVDs.”
Pete won’t be returning to hie Radio City Talk phone-in after announcing the news that his show was coming to end on Twitter. The good news is that you can get your pricey fix right here on The Guide Liverpool as he brings you his weekly look at what’s happening on the Wirral.
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