I recently got asked why I did my radio show? My reply was every week I get to talk to inspirational people, play some of my favourite music and make friends all over the world what’s not to like? Admittedly when I started The ‘D’ Word things were a little different as I was in blind panic for a couple of weeks after agreeing to join UK Health Radio. Suddenly with few contacts I was supposed o find someone interesting to talk about Dementia. All I had was my original demo show and little else.
To start the show I figured I needed something big so why not start with the Chief Executive of the UK’s largest Dementia charity The Alzheimers Society. Easier said than done you might think but in contrast it was fairly easy to set up a meeting thanks to his PA. Arriving with my laptop at Crutched Friars I proceeded to the first floor which appeared a buzzing hive of people walking around with cardboard cups of coffee. I also noted that the monogramed cushions on the sofa opposite the reception desk probably cost more than my yearly budget when I was working for the Society. At this point I must admit that I got a certain thrill entering Jeremy Hughes office but never letting on that I used to work for him. To be fair he was charming but he was also adept at batting off any difficult questions which in my eyes made the chat a little sterile. You’ll notice I use the word chat because that is what it is. I quickly learned that to access the big players in the game you need to go through a wall of media people who want every detail on what you are going to ask. Was it really worth it?
All I wanted to do was have a friendly chat to give the listeners the impression we were just two friends chatting over a cuppa. That principle was disarming to the large organisations media teams who were used to staged BBC type interviews. So I made the decision to largely contact those people who are doing a great job but can’t afford media teams to highlight the work they are doing. At first I was apprehensive what the response would be but I was delighted when everyone welcomed me with open arms only too glad to be given the opportunity to tell people about their work. I also wanted to talk to people living with Dementia. I’m often called an expert but the real experts are the people living everyday with the condition. Not only are they inspiring that have also taught me an awful lot about communication and I hope I’ve used that knowledge to make The ‘D’ Word a better listening experience. After over 150 episodes I guess I must be doing something right.
But while I’m the public face of TWRadio I couldn’t achieve anything without my Production Assistant Angela who has been a true Alzeimers Angel since I persuaded her to get involved. She has a great deal of first hand knowledge having cared for her husband Dave who sadly passed away after a long battle with Dementia. She keeps my diary up to date, liases with guests and runs the excellent Facebook page. Simply said if there was no Angela The ‘D’ Word would really struggle. Its funny to think now that at the beginingI had arranged for a guest to come on the show to talk about a range of Dementia friendly games he was producing. About a week before the chat which was the first after a holiday I received an e-mail saing ‘now you’re back in the office can you get your PA to contact me.’ Amazing the impression you can give when in fact you’re doing everything from your spare bedroom!
So far I have spoken to guests from the US, Canada, Brazil, Australia, India, Kenya, and Costa Rica which has as I said in the intro given me friends all over the world. I’ve spoken to many people living with Dementia, eminent researchers and scientists, learned about Dementia Dogs and hopefully given a lot of small charities a voice. When I started I honestly thought things woud come to an end after six months but now I feel as long as there are inspirational people out there with great stories to tell then I’ll only be only too happy to keep on spreading the word. After all what’s not to like?