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on 6 June 2017
As somebody who loves radio and the 'behind the shiny front nitty gritty' of it all, this is a superb read. Liz's passion shines through throughout, at the injustices, the sexism and the downright lies, but also at the brilliance of the good people she's worked with and for.

This is a must read for music a and radio fans everywhere. Hats off Liz.
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on 25 August 2017
Really interesting read. The BBC, who knew. Wonderful stories and opinions
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on 31 March 2017
Not a particular fan but Liz has led a interesting life in radio, excellent behind the scenes with no punches pulled
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on 8 April 2015
Some things are so well done that they are enjoyable even if you would not normally be interested in the subject. I very glad I read this book even though, before I picked it up in a bookshop, I did not know who the author Liz Kershaw was, and have rarely listened to Radio 1 or Radio 6 Music where she has made the greater part of her career. Just curious because of its slightly strange title, I opened this book, read a page at random and was hooked.

Liz Kershaw tells the story of her career as a Disc Jockey and radio and television presenter (with quite frequent mention of her brother Andy Kershaw, who has also been a DJ and presenter, when he is not in too much trouble with the authorities).

Such careers have no recognised entry courses, training or recruitment schemes. DJs may be people plucked from obscurity partly by chance and contacts, sometimes to become mega famous with screaming fans and invites to celebrity parties. Yet they may be abruptly returned to cold obscurity by the whim of a new station manager who decides to replace popular presenters sometimes for no apparent reason except to have ‘made his mark’ on the schedules.

Liz Kershaw, the daughter of a Deputy Headmaster in Rochdale, after University in Leeds worked in obscurity first for Littlewoods Department Stores and then in business sales for BT before a contact made through the latter got her an opening on the radio. She attributes her success to ‘luck and hard work’.

Before they were famous, the author briefly formed a pop group called ‘Dawn Chorus and the Blue Tits’ with the future Countdown presenter Carol Vorderman and her Mum. Liz was ‘Dawn Chorus’ (so does that mean Carol Vorderman was officially a 'Tit'??)

Liz somehow manages to write in an overwhelmingly cheerful and positive style, despite having survived a good many hard knocks both to herself and to her family.

Growing up in Rochdale, her family had the misfortune to have dealings with the posthumously notorious, molesting pervert Member of Parliament Cyril Smith, about whom she says there were already widespread rumours in the town, as she says there also already were about the DJ and presenter Jimmy Saville when she lived in his home city of Leeds. It was said that ‘Crossing Saville meant that you’d get more than a calling card from his gangster buddies’; an aspect of his life that, if true, has still not fully come out despite the other revelations.

She alleges she was herself repeatedly sexually molested even while presenting live programmes on the radio by a then prominent Radio 1 DJ, who, for fear of our libel laws, which favour wealthy bullies, she does not name. However, it may not be a coincidence that at the two places in the book that she directly mentions this, both times, without accusing him of anything, she refers to a particular ex-Radio 1 DJ by name a few lines later.

Of stars she interviewed, she says for example that Tina Turner’s ‘face lit up and she talked the talk with her huge smile when the microphone was on her and then she just turned back to her mirror and her make up. Interview over. Not even a goodbye.’

This kind of experience with some stars whose work she had championed for years spoiled her later enjoyment of their music. In the end, as a long-standing fan of Bruce Springsteen, she turned down an opportunity to meet him just in case it led to a similar disillusionment.

Liz Kershaw acknowledges that the BBC does things that commercial radio, where everything has to be timed practically to the second to make room for the advertisements, cannot do. However, while I do not suppose this will help her career, she is critical in this book of many things about the ‘Beeb’.

When scandals break those most likely to lose their jobs are either junior people who were probably doing as they were told, or those right at the top too remote from the front line to have more than symbolic responsibility for what happened. The middle management who in reality had most to do with wrong decisions tend to remain in post, be promoted, or leave only to lucratively continue their influence by setting up their own production or consultancy companies whose services are quickly bought by the BBC.

Liz Kershaw bravely risked upsetting her superiors by successfully lobbying, part openly and partly by covertly feeding information to the MPs Nadine Dorries and Tessa Munt, who took up the issue, about the lack of female DJs on BBC Radio, with some success. Cerys Matthews and Sarah Cox for example are now at least as good as most of the male presenters. This suggests it was not lack of interested and able women that previously left the airwaves dominated by men but a ‘it’s not what you know, it's who you know,’ method of appointment.

To her credit, while her views are far from being carbon copy Daily Mail editorial, she does not automatically adopt predictable media arts trendy liberal left political views, and is willing from the evidence of personal experience to question quite a few progressive sacred cows. E.g.:

-‘With hindsight I don’t know if Live Aid really changed anything for anybody but the bands. The likes of Queen and U2 were catapulted into a new super league and went on to shift millions more albums and tour tickets on the side of this TV exposure while artists who decided to decline Geldof’s ‘invitation’ now privately admit they lost out forever on sales.

‘Meanwhile I doubt that Spandau Ballet strutting their stuff actually helped to eradicate the wars, corruption and economic globalisation that cause death from genocide, disease and starvation. It was all about Africa but with hardly any black faces on the bill.’

And on the National Health Service (a vast organisation, so not everyone’s experience will accord with this):

‘When a patient is running up an actual bill for the service, they’re treated as they should be. As a customer. As someone who has a choice. With courtesy and respect. When you’re getting it ‘for free’ from a government-run monopoly with staff who think they’ve got a job for life, you’re treated as a bloody nuisance with a self-inflicted condition who should be grateful for what they throw at you’

Her descriptions of how 4 elderly close relatives died in NHS ‘care’, if accurate, are appalling.

But this is not a book about politics, so if those comments go against what you want to believe do not be put off from reading this interesting, lively, enlightening book.
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on 5 April 2014
Thoroughly good and entertaining read detailing the highs and lows of the career of Ms Kershaw. It's scary to think how long she has been broadcasting and how long I have been listening - even taking into account the bunch of b******s than ran the Beeb.
The only gripe & it's nothing to do with Liz - I purchased the Kindle edition only to find chapters 5 & 6 had been duplicated. Amazon's answer was to cancel my order - unacceptable as I would have been unable to read the rest of the book & for ME to contact the publisher! So what did happen in chapters 5 & 6?
Got to go now as Liz is back on 6Music. :-)
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on 22 April 2014
This book is a great read for the inside take on the companies Liz Kershaw has worked in. She names names when it's right to do so and doesn't when it isn't. And, my goodness, she stands up for women and the working class! My only gripe is that I felt it's Liz's way or the highway; I got the feeling that she generalises from her own experiences and opinions, no abortions after 12 weeks being an example. Anyway, I'd still recommend it...it does make you think.
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on 6 October 2015
I was attracted to this book for 2 reasons: I used to work for BBC Radio myself in the past, based in Portland Place opposite Broadcasting House; and I met Liz Kershaw in 2010 when she interviewed me for BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire, about the release of my debut novel "Mystical Circles". When she interviewed me, Liz said her to-do list was topped by the item "Write book." So here is the book Liz has written, about her life as a BBC broadcaster.

I found the book absolutely fascinating, and Liz writes as if she is talking to you: no self-conscious literary style, just chatty, often blunt, plain speaking. I cannot but be moved by her account of how she as a woman was treated in the sexist culture of the BBC that she experienced, and shocked by the ease and thoughtlessness with which senior producers would just remove a freelance broadcaster from a popular show, with minimal notice or any kind of tact and diplomacy. Herein lies my ambivalence about this book and unwillingness to award it 5 stars. Though it held me gripped throughout, I found myself sometimes cringing at what Liz revealed of the behaviour of her senior colleagues. Nevertheless, I couldn't help identifying with her feelings about all this, and wondering how I would have dealt with the situations she encountered, and how I would have worded the bold and outspoken emails she sent!

Overall this is a compelling glimpse into the life of a woman broadcaster, and into the world of the BBC. I thoroughly recommend this book to all interested in British media and popular culture.
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on 21 April 2014
Oh my goodness! If you have ever worked in media and especially at the BBC you must read this book. Liz is inspiring, witty, honest and brilliant. I left the BBC because of.gagging order insert....work. She hits the nail on the head about so many things. I can't recommend this highly enough. Denise.
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on 11 July 2016
As is the case for millions of us the BBC's presentation of popular music has been constantly bubbling away somewhere in the background of my 'cultural' life since childhood. Looking back over the decades the personalities and the culture seem to get more fascinating as time passes, the whole thing even seeming at times bizarre (not always in a bad way) like an old keepsake you want to re-inspect. I'm a year older than the author so I was interested to hear her inside track as she navigated roughly the same years within that milieu. I wasn't disappointed. She is obviously keenly intelligent (e.g. very sure-footed on the complexities of the aftermath, in the BBC, of Jimmy Savile's death) and she is clear and forthright, fierce even, in her views. I sense she is being as honest as she can with the reader as she opens up that world to us. It's a very personal perspective, but in a very readable style. For all I know others might challenge her version of events, but it's very revealing all the same. And no I really couldn't put it down.
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on 27 June 2014
The two books I took on my recent holiday were this one and 'No Off Switch', the entertaining memoir by "Our Andrew", published in 2013. Some episodes are chronicled in both books - most notably AK's marriage collapse and the sad events that followed. On that subject I have to declare I am not totally convinced by the official Kershaw family version as I know somebody who is close to AK's ex and they paint a slightly different picture.

But that aside, this book is a tremendous read which amply conveys the trademark Kershaw joie-de-vivre and unstoppable drive. Liz's childhood, student years and early twenties are amusingly recounted but it's her turbulent time at the BBC - initially as an employee and then a freelance DJ - that really bring the book to life. She readily admits that many of her BBC jobs/gigs she just fell into by being in the right place at the right time and she has prolonged her broadcasting career by not being too too proud to occasionally take a backward step into the wilderness of local radio (including Radio Coventry - apparently populated by characters reminiscent of Alan Partridge!). But Liz always fights back from her periods of exile and resurfaces at Beeb Central where she certainly isn't easily pushed around. She won't swallow bulls*** and is never afraid to go right to the top to expose it - doorstepping successive Director Generals and even BBC Trust Chairman Chris Patten when she bumps into him in the street. The lady's got balls, that's for sure!

Throughout the frenetic and often hilarious account of the institution which, lest we forget, is universally acknowledged as the The World's Premier Broadcaster, we learn about the almost endemic incompetence, politicking, back-stabbing, sexism at R1, cultural vandalism (the ludicrous attempt by Mark Thompson to axe 6-Music) and a corporate veil of lies and denial about Savile and other (allegedly) predatory DJs. Reading this book might therefore be a depressing experience for anyone who still believes in the Corporation and it's Reithian values - as does Liz, evidently, despite her 30 years of exposure to all the dysfunction. The widely-reported financial excesses, obscene pay-offs (hush money) and mismanagement are enough to make the blood boil in each and every licence-fee payer. But nonetheless the book is still good fun and a real page-turner. The writing style is bright and unfussy although occasionally you do feel Liz is over-playing the Professional Northerner. For example on each alternate page it's "Me and Our Andrew...." instead of "Our Andrew and I.....".

So what's next for Our Elizabeth? There's a hefty hint of parliamentary ambitions ("watch this space") and I for one think she'd be perfect in a Labour seat - a good old-fashioned barnstorming campaigner and activist. She clearly cares deeply and has some forthright views about the NHS, education and, of course, the BBC.
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