A former policeman lost everything and was forced to sleep rough in his car. The…
The stars aligned for Liverpool born businessman Rod Keay in more than one way when he decided to launch Liverpool Live 247.
City Talk folded and Radio Merseyside decided to rearrange their schedule; two significant events that opened a gap in the market for a new station. A station that would pick up on the audience that Merseyside no longer wanted, and City Talk had left behind. A station that brought back local celebrities like Billy Butler and Kev Seed, employed seasoned professionals like Pauline Daniels and Jon Jessop and introduced new blood in the form of Asa Murphy and Ethan Allen and many more besides.
This is a station that has opened the Merseyside airwaves back up with interesting content, great music and that all important Scouse humour. It has broken the internet three weeks running the demand is so huge.
Rod has always worked on radio, latterly alongside running Concrete Company North West Limited, his day job. His career on the air waves began at Century Radio and went on to include Radio City and Wish FM. You could say radio is in his blood.
I had the pleasure of talking to Rod and could hear the passion in his voice first-hand. He is under no pretence that there is a long road ahead, but he is certainly off to a flying start.
“Getting Billy Butler was a real coup”, said Roy. “We had Wally Scott in the studio this week, the first time they had been on air together for 20 years and it was electric! The Best of Hold Your Plums can be heard on Billy’s Sunday Show.
Pauline Daniels is knocking it out of the park with her show, such diverse and interesting topics. Everyone is doing such a great job”.
During my own career as an entertainer and later owner of the Buz Magazine, I became friends with a fair few of the Liverpool Live 247 presenters so thought it would be good to catch up with some of them. I will probably interview a few more in the coming months so be sure to check back.
BILLY BUTLER – Saturday morning 10am – 1pm and Best of Hold Your Plums Sunday 11am – 1pm
Growing up, Billy Butler was a part of the family. His voice could be heard in the house, in the car and on sunny days, in the garden. Mrs Butlers eldest was part of every Liverpool family and affectionately remembered, amongst other things, for his Sunday show with Wally Scott; Hold Your Plums. A show given new life by Liverpool Live 247.
Years later as owner of the Buz Magazine, I became a regular stand-in for Lyn Staunton, on Billy’s show, guesting alongside the lovely Bobby Sox on Stars in Their Ears.
It’s fair to say I love Billy Butler to pieces. I love his passion for local music, well music in general. I love how he loves his wife and isn’t afraid to say it. I love how he has helped so many people over the years including myself and my daughter Jade. I love that he is back where he belongs, entertaining the folk of Merseyside.
- For those who don’t know you (obviously born on another planet), please give us a brief synopsis of your career to date.
Television – Thank Your Lucky Stars 1962/3, Merseypirate, Fun Factory, What’s On, Wacker’s World, Fax, Chuckle Bros, What the Butler Sees, Billy and Wally’s Night Out…
Groups – Merseybeats (guest Vocal), Tuxedo’s 63/4,
Cavern DJ 1964/70
Manager Mardi Gras 1970/72
DJ at lots of clubs inc. – She Club, Paradise Club Wigan, Las Vegas Club Wigan, Empress and Golden Guinea New Brighton.
Radio – Merseyside 71/78, City 79/83, Merseyside 83/95, City 96/99, Merseyside 2000-2018, Radio 2 Late night 1978
- When you left Radio Merseyside, what did you miss most about radio?
That would definitely be the communication with my listening public
- Did you listen to much radio in your own absence?
Still listened to Merseyside and sometimes my son Lee on City. Nothing else impressed me!
- What constitutes a good entertainer for you? Any examples past or present?
An entertainer who can sell himself in many different ways but can still maintain your interest e.g. Kenny Everett, Spike Milligan, Graeme Norton, Terry Wogan, Spencer Leigh and Rowan Atkinson.
- You are a great collector. What is your most prized possession from those collections?
I collect so many things and have sold so many things over the years that have zoomed in price, but I can live with that. I would say I’m proud of a gold disc for Jennifer Rush, The Power of Love awarded to me by CBS for my part in breaking the record.
- Is it possible to recall a couple of stand-out moments from your career?
Being made a Citizen of Honour by the Council. Winning the Liverpool Echo DJ of the year a few times and thinking of the idea for Hold Your Plums, but mostly marrying Lesley!
- Just for laughs, would you have rather scored the winning goal for Everton in a cup final or had a number one record?
Scoring winning goal for Everton in Cup Final! Although I have played on both grounds and sang, You’ll Never Walk Alone in Liverpool kit outside Anfield after losing a bet!
ETHAN ALLEN – Catch Ethan on air every Sunday afternoon. From 1 till 4.
Back in my entertainer days, in fact way back, I took my mum to see a country and western duo at our local pub. It was quite a coup for the landlady as these guys had had three number one hits in the Country Music charts. They were called the Cheap Seats. John Pettifer was the guitarist who I knew from some friends in the business, but it wasn’t John who caught my eye that night. The singer had long hair tied in a ponytail (usually a turn off for me), a beautiful voice, amazing stage presence, the cheekiest smile when he sang and tight leather trousers. He must have winked at everyone in the audience that night but somehow, he still managed to make me feel special – a true entertainer. That singer was the lovely Ethan Allen.
Our paths crossed again many years later and we have remained friends to this day. He still has the fabulous voice and cheeky grin and only last year I met his wife, Nicky at the Wirral Life Awards, who turned out to be the sister of a client! Small world.
When covid-19 isn’t in control, Ethan performs around the UK and has now presents a country music show on Liverpool Live 247.
- How has lockdown been for you?
Lockdown has been a challenging time for us like everyone. Up until it happened, I was promoting concerts and running events, heading up the production team at Camp and Furnace and gigging regularly. So, it went from 1000 miles an hour to zero overnight. Obviously, the financial situation has been stressful because absolutely every part of this industry stopped on a dime. What has happened though is that I have re-evaluated how I want to continue living my life. I have given years to venues and businesses missing out on so much family and personal time that I realise I don’t want to do that anymore. At the end of last year, I had a heart attack and even though I really didn’t want to, I ended up going full speed again. The Covid lockdown forced me to reset. So, I guess I’m lucky, and thankful.
- Do you sing and play every day regardless of gigs?
Not so much in the way of sitting down and playing but I guess at some point in the day I usually burst into song.
- What drew you to radio?
I have done radio work before, back in the 90’s I used to appear as a regular contributor on BBC Radio 5 live with Tim Grundy. I’d review music and talk all things Americana/Country. I then did a stint in a local community radio station learning the ropes. I’ve co-presented TV stuff years ago on TLC so I feel quite at home hosting. I had always thought about a Country show, Kenny Johnson was a lifelong friend and I always thought it would be good to carry on a local show. I didn’t get the opportunity until now so when I was approached by the owner of the station, I felt the timing was right.
- Who do you listen to in your spare time?
Tough question. Obviously loads of the latest Country stuff but I’m a massive fan of “Yacht Rock” everything from Steely Dan, Bread, Hall and Oats to Christopher Cross.
- Where do you keep the Country Music Awards?
On the window ledge in my production studio at home.
- Do any of your children show signs of being musical?
My Son plays the Trombone but he’s more into computers and technology.
My Daughter is already playing UKE and singing beautifully. We recorded a song and a video for her during lockdown.
She definitely has the gift. https://youtu.be/hqLPmXhRjxM
PAULINE DANIELS – You can spend your mid mornings with her and a load of malarkey on Liverpool Live 247, Monday to Friday 10 am till 1pm.
I first met Pauline Daniels at a gig in a small place near Ellesmere Port called Elton. It is tucked away near Stanlow if I remember correctly. Anyway, this comedienne was top of the bill and I was the support. To call her just a comedienne was unfair. If you heard the voice that belted out Lilac Wine and Send in the Clowns, you would not have thought she had a joke in her. I was in awe and have been ever since.
Our paths crossed many times over the years, mainly when we were on the same bill, I even remember getting a dressing down from her at one point, but it wasn’t until I interviewed Pauline that I was introduced to her softer side.
I had only ever known the loud, Scouse woman who made a lot of noise on and off the stage, a total contrast to the lady sat opposite me answering my questions. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation and in fact wished it had gone on longer. There was a warmth and honesty that I had never seen before, but I guess that is what makes her good on radio. Pauline is down to earth, someone you can relate to and always has a story up her sleeve.
- What has lockdown taught you about yourself?
Lockdown has taught me that after three not so good marriages I have finally married the right man, if I’d have been locked down with any of them other than Frank, I’d be in prison now serving life for murder. My heart goes out to anyone who is in the wrong relationship, it’s important to have the right person by your side, at all times. I’ve been through tough days and at the end of them all I’ve felt blessed that he’s been there when I opened my eyes the next morning. I have always known that I am very much a people person and I know that I am definitely in the right job, I have missed performing so much.
- What positives have you taken from lockdown?
My faith in humanity has returned, there are so many people out there ready to put themselves out for the community and I’m grateful for good friends. I have realised that I can be creative, I’ve started to write, I’ve got a play, a book and new material all on the go. I only hope that I get to finish one of them at least.
- How does it feel to be back on air?
Being back on the radio is fantastic, when I first did radio I was always convinced that there was only ever my mum and dad listening, but with social media you can connect immediately with people and to know that the radio is such a great comfort to many is good, and the power of radio is amazing.
- I believe you are going on tour. How does that feel?
I was very sceptical about doing live streaming, comedy isn’t the easiest thing to do in your kitchen, but it reached so many people including a promoter and he has put a tour together and he’s adding dates every week, all over the country because the live streaming has reached so many places due to social media. I’m really excited, it’s been a long time since I did a stand-up tour and with all of the social clubs closing, it’s harder to find anywhere to perform stand up these days. it’s also a bit scary, I’m out there on my own again after touring with a theatre cast, but being scared is good, it adds to the excitement.
- What do you like most; acting, being a comedienne or singing?
I have never been able to choose between acting, singing or comedy and I’ve been fortunate to have had a career of the fabulous mix. Being part of an acting company is fabulous. My favourite acting job was being part of the 6-month rep at the Everyman but then when the acting job is over, I’m always desperate to get back to making people laugh. My ideal job I suppose would be musical comedy theatre… I’m greedy, plus hearing people laugh is the most powerful drug in the world.
- What has been your career highlight to date?
There have been too many highlights to pinpoint just one, meeting Bob Hope, playing Mae West, alongside Barry Cryer’s W.C. Fields, doing the Palladium, telling Simon Cowell to shove Britain’s Got Talent, that’s a story on its own, playing Shirley Valentine, Mama Morton, in Chicago, Mama Rose in Gypsy too many to be able to pick. The one big one is being made an Honorary Fellow of Liverpool John Moore’s University for my continued contribution to the world of performing arts, just about is at the top. I was and am very proud, but it was the last big thing that my dad witnessed I lost him 6 months after my graduation and my mum and dad were just the proudest people in the world and I’ll never forget their faces on that day. Yes, that’s definitely the highlight of my career.