Gary Crowley - How 'the youngest voice on radio' stays fresh

Paul Weller still likes to greet Gary Crowley with the words: "Ah, London's youngest DJ." It's the Modfather's quirky brand of humour, but also an acknowledgement that the BBC broadcaster has been round the block a few times, reports Ian Burrell.

Crowley, 48, was indeed once the youngest voice on the airwaves, when he grabbed the microphone on Capital FM and had his own show at the age of 19, an unprecedented honour in that era of radio.

He was also the first voice on air at Xfm, as the indie station struggled to make itself heard after launching the day after Princess Diana's death in 1997.

It's 30 years since Crowley began his radio career, as a co-presenter on Radio 1's In Concert programme. He had joined the BBC from NME, then the New Musical Express, where he took over on reception from Danny Baker, who had been appointed as a staff writer, alongside Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill.

He is now a presenter on the BBC's 6 Music network and BBC London, where he does two shows a week, but it almost seems as if Crowley had too much, too young, to quote a band from his formative years, The Specials.

A Londoner, his accent caused him problems from early in his career. "It was a time when people with an accent as strong as mine weren't given shows ... There were quite a few calls from parents saying 'Who's this kid on the radio, he can't talk properly, what are you doing giving him a radio show?'. I remember feeling really upset."

The pressure on national broadcasters to avoid being London-centric, probably hasn't helped him greatly. "In the past there has been a slight wariness to put people with London accents on a national platform," he says. "The powers that be have had to think 'What are we saying to people in Motherwell?' when the DJs are always talking about the weather in London."

But Crowley has been a respected guide to modern British musical trends for three decades. He has also toured Britain as the warm-up DJ and compère for Wham, The Jam and Oasis. Though he once tried to leave behind the music of his youth ("for a long time I couldn't go back and listen to that stuff"), he now recognises the advantages of interviewing artists when "I know a lot of them from first time round".

Weller wouldn't let him forget, anyway. "He's got a memory like an elephant," says Crowley. "I had an awful publicity photo where I must have looked like I'd fallen off a Haircut 100 album because I had a bow tie on. Even now, Paul says 'How's the little bow tie, have you still got that?'"

Ian Burrell

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Lead Systems Developer / Software Developer

COMPETITIVE + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: A Lead Systems Developer / Sof...

Recruitment Genius: Social Media & Engagement Manager - French or German Speaker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: The world's leading financial services careers...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Executive - 6 Months Contract

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Digital Marketing Executive...

Guru Careers: Account Manager / Senior Account Manager

40-45K DOE + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Manager / Senior Account Manag...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border