MARK'S (NOT SO) DAILY BLOG

Mark Pilgrim Kia

The Mark Pilgrim Show in a new timelsot

If you're over 35 and you haven't started listening to the radio station Hot919 yet, you're missing out! We play all your favs from the 70s to the 90s and the jocks are all veterans in the industry, most of us with the legacy of working together at the old 5FM back in the 90s.

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Even if you're not in Johannesburg North, (the footprint of the station on 91.9FM), we're on streaming audio (TuneIn app on your phone) and also channel 922 on DStv (if you still have satellite TV!).

Since the station opened at the end of 2014, my show has been Saturdays 12-3pm, but just to let you know it moved earlier 9am - 12pm as of last weekend! The legendary Kevin Savage (with his Classic Countdown) and I have swopped time slots to better accommodate the generous sponsors that make our respective shows possible!

This is now what happens on The Mark Pilgrim Show 9am - 12pm (besides all the great 80s and 90s hits!):

9am - 10am: This hour is brought to you by Kia Fourways

Kia Fourways are the proud vehicle sponsor of the show.

9.30am: Anagram Game

This is a word game I have been doing for years on my shows, from 5FM to Highveld, and now on Hot91.9fm. I give you a word and you have to find the other word in it using all the same letters, based on a clue I give you.  It's a fun and challenging few minutes on air!

10.10am: Movie Moment with Black Sheep Films

Black Sheep Films are one of South Africa's big movie distributors to Ster Kinekor and Nu Metro.  When they have a blockbuster release, we feature the movie and give away great prizes!

10.30am : Unofficial Holidays brought to you by Vespa

Vespa, the unofficial mode of transport for mavericks bring you the list of all the days we celebrate and commemorate over the following 7 day period. This includes serious days such as World Tuberculosis Day and also more humorous ones like World Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day. 

11.10am Kia Hot Hit brought to you by Kia Motors SA

This is a feature where we play a Hot Hit themed around a campaign or event that Kia SA is promoting, with one lucky listener getting R1500 in cash!

So there you have it. Hope you get to lock on this Saturday! 
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The radio awards were HOT!

About a year ago I was so disillusioned with radio I decided to quit the industry. And then I was told  about a new station opening up in Johannesburg called Hot 919 FM. It wasn't a station run by these big corporates. It was a small independent station, a station starting with virtually no big backing. When I heard who was joining the team though I felt something inside me which I hadn't felt in a long time... excitement and passion.

The jocks joining the station were the people I both worked with years before and also admired to much as deejays I listened to as a youngster. This station was small, but what a powerful team. And with that, I dusted off my headphones (well actually my retirement was so short they never had time to gather dust) and got back on air.

It's always great to be recognised as a serious player at the 2015 Radio Awards, but we all knew the cards were stacked against us as we only went on air at the end of November and entries for the Radio Awards were closed at the end of December.

So what a great night this past Saturday when just 5 months in, this small independent radio station walked away with 5 Radio Awards, including Best Breakfast Show, Best Breakfast Presenter, Best News Reader, Best Sports presenter and my award, Best Weekend Radio Show!

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It was also a night to relive the magical memories of the old 5FM with Alex Jay and Cleone Cassidy:

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And one of my favourite ever Afternoon Drive presenters from the old 5fm days, Tony Murrell:

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My good friend Barney Simon on Jacaranda FM knocked it out the park winning so many awards, including the same as me with Best Weekend Radio Show (he won in the Commercial category and I won in the Community category). Here we are backstage:

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The team at Hot919FM have all been around the block. We've all had immense success and all fallen in our careers. Having been in the trenches there are no egos at play and we celebrated not only our victories, but that of our fellow radio jocks at other stations too. When Jacaranda FM won Radio Station of the Year, I think the Hot team got up and applauded almost as quickly as the Jacaranda team themselves.

What a great night. And thank you to all the "hotties" who support Hot 919fm!








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Peace at home!

There is peace in the valley!

For a solid year my girls have been fighting. Nicole and I sometimes feared coming home because we knew we would be entering a war zone. But the tides have shifted in recent weeks and it seems we all successfully weathered the storm!

I'm not saying theres no squabbles, but things have improved to the point where Tayla-Jean (the chief instigator in the battles), even wants to sleep in her sister's bed at night...

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The downside is, when one of them wakes up at 5.30am...they both wake up now! It's a small price to pay for harmony.

Speaking of harmonies, Jacaranda FM will be broadcasting live from outside my SMOOCH store this Saturday! If you're in the area, pop on past Forest Hill City Mall. It's going to be lots of fun!

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Time to say goodbye

This is it. I'm about to do my final radio show tomorrow. After 19 years of being on air, I'm saying goodbye. I wrote a blog a few months ago about why I'm leaving, you can read it here if you missed it. This blog is really a simple thank you.

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Thank you to the wonderful team at 94.5KFM who have always treated me as one of their own, even though I was the jock that did the show from a thousand kilometres away. There is such talent in the building.
  • To Ryan O Connor, much respect for how you believe in team work and make each of your fellow jocks really feel like they belong. A lot of others could learn from your ethos. 
  • To Steven Werner, the Programme Manager, who has always looked after me every time I fly down to Cape Town for a show. I love you like a brother "my sister".
  • Ian Bredenkamp, thanks for the many laughs over the years, I think you and Elana Afrika ROCK as a couple. 
  • To Stefan le Roux who sits in the Cape Town studio every time I do the show in Johannesburg to make sure the ads and news go out to air without a hitch, thank you for being my silent right arm!
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To my Highveld family, who I've been with for 10 years, what a ride it has been!
  • To the station manager Ravi Naidoo who has always given me the freedom to do what I wanted on air, and allowed me to go off playlist and spin some great classics over the years (okay, except when I played Live - Selling the Drama... we clashed over that one!). Ravs, thanks for believing in my ability not to trash my shows!
  • To my fellow jocks who are taking over the reigns as the station moves forward, may you guys continue rocking (or hip-hopping) the airwaves for many years to come!
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To my old 5FM colleagues who I still chat to like Cleone Cassidy, Derek the Bandit, Barney Simon, Alex Jay & Steve Kirker. I will always think back to the 90s and smile. It was an honour to be part of radio history with you.  I know this is probably just an old guy waffling, but there is something to be said for the old school way of doing radio, where deejays really connected with listeners one-on-one. It was a generation where most of us didn't start our names with "DJ".

To KIA Motors, Ray Levine and David Sieff who believe so much in the brand of Take40 that they are going into their 5th year of show sponsorship, thank you for wanting me to continue to be their ambassador even though I'm going off radio. When Ravi and I created the chart show 9 years ago, we had no idea that it would become the definitive chart show in South Africa. A chart show that South African musicians listened to in order to see where their songs landed up. It has been my child that I've nurtured for so long!

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The biggest mention of all though, goes to you the listener. I have no convoluted thing to say. Just two words: Thank you.

I know me. It's not goodbye forever. At some stage I'll come back somewhere and do a show. Maybe playing some good 90s rock like Collective Soul, Gin Blossoms, Better than Ezra and Live... and, yes Ravs, especially Selling the Drama :)

Thank you South Africa for the memories.
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The final countdown...

The clock is ticking for 2 events next week...

I only have 2 shows left on radio. People are still asking what I have planned for the final show next week Saturday. I'm not a razzmatazz kind of guy and like doing things low key, so it will be a "normal" show. I want my last one to be what I usually do on air...with hopefully you listening!

Also, we're counting down the days until opening my first SMOOCH store in Centurion. We're now hoping to open for business on Wednesday next week! If you are in the Centurion area it would be great to have your support at Forest Hill City (the new mega-mall open at N14 & R55). I've been pretty quiet on my blog and twitter because I've been on site almost all the time as the store starts taking shape!

Even though I've been focussed on yoghurt, the other work still continues. For the last 10 years I've been hosting live corporate television to Standard Bank staff and this week we did the show live from Stark Studios where they also shoot the soapie Binnelanders and other shows. I still get excited when the red light goes on! I love sharing behind the scenes photos and here's one where the camera was on during rehearsal. If you look carefully on the TV screen behind the camera, you can see me taking the pic!

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I know the blog is short, but I have to dash to Centurion now... ! Don't worry, I'm not going to start ending my blogs by saying "Smooches".
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My goodbye song...

I just got reprimanded on twitter for being slack with my blog. Thanks Pat! Admittedly, my blogs are no longer daily as I have so many projects on the go, I simply don't always have the time. Sorry! But I really do appreciate everyone popping on to read my blurbs!

In fact, as I write this blog, the only reason why I've found 5 minutes to type is because both my girls are glued to their iPads!


I'll confiscate them in a few minutes so that they do what kids did in years gone by...play.

So the countdown clock is definitely ticking. I wrap up my radio career at the end of June. People have been asking what special surprises I have in store during the final show. Here's the thing. I've always been the quiet type. Even my birthdays are always low key. So I'm not going to go out with a bang, having bands and celebrations in studio. The show must go on, so to speak, and I still need to do a countdown on my final day. If there is too much razzmatazz in the studio I lose the ability to share the last few moments with listeners who have been with me for so long. Having said that, I will probably have a few close friends popping in towards the end when I say goodbye. I will say this though, the number 1 song will be played a few minutes earlier to make time for me to play one FINAL song of my choosing.

I'm still deciding which one though (maybe you can help and let me know by adding a comment at the bottom of the blog). I'm choosing between:

1) SEMISONIC - CLOSING TIME
I played this song as my final tune when I stopped doing the Drive Show 2 years ago. It was always the song we wrapped up the night with when I still owned Nitefever (a club in Fourways):


2) JOURNEY - FAITHFULLY
The other choice is my favourite song of ALL TIME. I am a huge fan of Journey. The younger generation might not know them well, but they rocked in the early 80s and have sold over 75 million albums. Faithfully is just such a great power ballad:


Either way, since becoming a Dad I'm a real softie, so I'll probably get a little choked up when saying goodbye! 5 shows to go.
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It's time. Why I'm quitting SA radio

When I was a small kid I would listen to David Gresham host the Springbok Radio Top 20. Years later I would listen to the likes of Kevin Savage and Phil Wright host 5FM's weekend chart show. As a geeky guy that grew up in the small towns of Kriel and Sasolburg, I nevertheless dreamed big and wanted to be on radio too.

After recovering from cancer I made it my mission to follow my dream. It still took 8 years of auditions, but back in 1995 I got my first gig: Weekend Graveyard on 5FM! It's still one of my treasured moments, being part of a station that had the top deejays in the country. 

After 9 years I got fired from the station for "not sticking to the playlist" (yep, I was stirring) and started working at 94.7 Highveld Stereo where I've been ever since. 

For the last 9 years I've been hosting SA's biggest chart show, the KIA Take40sa. I built the chart show up from nothing, and nurtured and cherished it as if it was my own baby. In 2007 we became the first music show to simulcast across 2 stations at the same time, and with that I was part of 94.5KFM as well, winning best music show of the year at the 2012 Radio Awards. 

I have so many great memories of interviewing amazing artists, working with some really talented colleagues and interacting with so many listeners that supported me and my shows.

But now, I've made the decision that it's time to say goodbye to 94.7 Highveld Stereo and 94.5KFM.

Why leave? It's difficult to articulate, but I equate it to when you go to someone's party. There comes a point in the evening when you know it's time to go home. I'll never forget Shadow Stevens who used to host the American Top 40. At the height of his career, he bowed out.

When I started back in 1995 I was hoping to be in the industry a few years. I've been blessed in that I was able to adapt to the times, from being the deejay that was initially known as the "classic man" on 5FM and then the guy playing all the new hits on Take40. Now, 19 years later, it's time now for new blood to take over the chart show. My final show will be at the end of June 2014.

Whilst saying goodbye to radio, I'm not disappearing completely. I'll still be in the related industry doing lots of radio and television voice overs, still MC'ing corporate events, and still going around South Africa dong motivational talks on overcoming cancer and heart disease. I'm also still very involved in television and also look forward to the next big show! 

Part of my focus now will be on my new venture, frozen yoghurt. My SMOOCH store opens at Forest Hill City in Centurion at the end of May and I'll be putting a lot of time and effort into making it a fantastic experience for every customer who wants a little bit of heaven in their mouth!

Who knows, in a few years time I could pick up my radio headphones again. Never say never. 

To those that have supported me over the many years, I THANK YOU for allowing a small town boy to live his big city dream. 

When my 2 girls are teenagers they probably won't believe me when I say I was once a deejay on radio playing the coolest and hottest tunes.

To them I'll always just be "goofy Dad”.

THAT is the best job title in the world.
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What amazing nurses we have.

So it turns out it wasn't an ingrown hair after all, but a spider bite, probably when I was on holiday in Phinda Game Reserve last week.

This is the result of that little critter (apologies if you're squeamish).


That white thing is a drain that's been inserted into the wound to drain the remaining infection.

A big thank you to the nurses at Morningside Medi-clinic. Even though I was flat on my back, they still made me feel like a million bucks. A special thanks for what they do every day on the job.

Here is a selfie of Unit Manager Tavares and her team that looked after me:


I fortunately get to go home today, and back to work tomorrow. 
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Last show for the year

It's that time of the year again. I LOVE Christmas. It is a little like groundhog day in our house though, because every year I try and justify to my wife why I think we should have a white Christmas tree, but she always wins (with everything) and it's a green one again. Nevertheless I can't wait for my girls to get excited about Father Christmas coming. We'll be sure to leave mile and cookies for him on Christmas Eve.

It also means it's time for the last KIA Take40sa for 2013. Tomorrow I count down the 40 biggest songs of the year in South Africa, give away R80 000, and I also have a t-shirt and 4 postcards personally signed by the boys of One Direction to give away. It's going to be a big one!

I'll be back doing my blogs and radio shows early in January 2014.

Thank you so much for your support, both on this blog, and my radio shows. It's much appreciated!
Here's wishing you and your family a great festive season. Bye for now!
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No, I'm not Dr Phil.

A common question I get asked is "what do I do when i'm not on air?". I specialise in corporate communications both on television and stage, and October/November is a particularly busy month of being on stage hosting corporate gala events. This weekend was no exception as I was the MC for the Hogan Technology Awards. This was my view of the 1200 people from the side of the stage:


After doing it for almost 20 years I still get a rush every time I go on stage. The only problem is, when I walk on stage at the moment, people think it's Dr Phil:


I can't wait for Movember to be over so I can shave this bloody thing off. When you look old, you feel old.... and right now I really feel like an frigging"old toppie". I always find it weird when people see my moustache and ask "Is it for Movember?". Seriously? That implies you think there's a chance I just grew it because I thought it was stylish? 

Anyway, I get to shave it off first thing Sunday morning. I'm sure a lot of guys will be feeling the same way and doing the same thing. I'll transform from Dr Phil back to myself while at 94.5Kfm's Bill Chill Weekend at Berg River this weekend. I haven't been camping since 1985, so it's going to be a fun experience doing it with a few hundred listeners in Paarl. I'll be hosting the KIA Take40sa from there and also deejaying at the Oconic 80s party later that night. 

The following Saturday (7 December) I'll be back in Cape Town broadcasting my show from a "certain store" at the V&A Waterfront. I'll be revealing more over the next couple of days, suffice to say it will be absolute chaos there, with literally thousands of people wanting to get in. :) 

For now, this is Dr Phil signing off. I have to go give people some couple therapy.

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So what's all the hype about One Direction?

That's the question someone asked me on the weekend after I finished the KIA Take40sa. On the show I dedicated quite a bit of airtime talking about the lads, giving their brand new song "Story of my life" its first airplay in South Africa.

Well, here's the deal. If you're asking what all the hype is about, it means you clearly don't have a teenage daughter.

Every couple of years, a young artist/band comes along that captures the hearts and fantasies of millions of teenagers. If you're over 40 you probably swooned over the Beatles or David Cassidy (if you're under 40 you have no idea who David Cassidy is!). I remember the frenzy over Hanson in the 90s. More recently it was the frenzy over Justin Bieber.

But I have to say in all 19 years on radio, I have NEVER seen a frenzy like this one. Directioners (the moniker given to the fans of the group) are so passionate that most of them on twitter have assumed the surname of one of the guys in the group!

Granted, a few years ago social media was not as prevalent as it is now, so maybe the frenzy for artists was there, we just weren't as exposed to it. On Saturday, the moment I started talking about the boys, 94.5Kfm trended at number one in South Africa on twitter.


The reality is, in a few years time there will be "new kids on the block" and the screams, fainting and "fangirling" (read THAT in the urban dictionary) will be for some guys who right now are too young to realise they will be rockstars in a few years time. When my 2 daughters (now 1 and 3) are teenagers they will be screaming for youngsters not even conceived yet.

For now though, in 2013, it's all about One Direction. Am I a Directioner myself? Well, I don't do any "fangirling" myself, but the litmus paper test is always: "Would I put their CD on in my car to listen to?".

You better believe it.

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R40000 up for grabs on my chart show!



A little bit of business news this morning. A big thanks to Kia Motors for being behind my radio show every Saturday. They have just renewed their annual contract with the biggest chart show in SA! What does this mean for you?... MORE amazing prizes coming up over the next few months! And we kick it of by giving away R40000 in cash at the end of this month!

Over the next 3 weeks go online to www.take40sa.co.za and enter the 40 second challange. It's a montage of 4 songs that are charting at the moment. Identify the tunes and you're in the draw for the money! The montage will change each week (you only need to crack one of them to be in the draw) and at the end of this month i could call you live on air to give you the money! The first 40 second montage will be online from tomorrow. Good luck!

Speaking of the chart show, this week's number 1 is Connell Cruise's "not just friends". Here's me chatting to him to let him know he's at number 1 in South Africa:


He's young, enthusiastic and very talented. Well worth getting hold of his debut self-titled album. And we'll see tomorrow if he can stick around at number 1 for 2 weeks in a row.

On the home front, my good friend Anita Olckers (www.anitaolckers.com) has taken some amazing pics of my little Alyssa who had her birthday on Wednesday. Here's a few pics:




If you are looking for a professional photographer to take pics of your kids, I highly recommend you pop onto her website and get in touch!

Have a great weekend, and i'll catch you on the radio tomorrow.
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Sun City and the awards.

This weekend was all about music. There were 2 massive concerts in Johannesburg, Bon Jovi and Bieber. Even though I had tickets for both, I landed up going to neither. One, because I didn't want to, the other because I just ran out of time (no guesses which one is which!).

It was also the annual SA Music Awards at Sun City and I hosted the chart show live from there. Well done to all the winners (most of whom I have never heard of in my life even though they have more twitter followers than I could ever hope to have).

Some big names (that I knew) did manage to swing by and say hi on air...
Sun City is a weird place. It many ways it looks tired and in desperate need of a facelift, yet there is still something magical about the Superbowl.  My surmise is that it's no longer a gambling destination, as they've removed all the slots and tables from the entertainment centre and replaced them with with kids games (after all, why travel all that way to gamble when you can pop into Monte Casino or Grand West etc). Sun City seems much more of a destination for families and corporate events these days. It must be a mammoth task to revamp the place, but I really think Sun International needs to spend a bit of money bringing it into the 21st century of architectural design. The fake rock and parrot murals are still there from before JR got shot back in 1982.
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My biggest prize at the MTN Radio Awards

First up, just a quick thanks so to guys from Danone. I hosted and deejayed at their gala evening in Knysna on Friday night... they KNOW how to party! I didn't drink a thing and still walked around on Saturday like I had a massive hangover!

Also on Saturday was the radio industry's event of the year, the 2013 MTN Radio Awards. I've mentioned this before, but the industry is like a giant chess board where people move around between stations and inevitably you've worked with quite a few of the people over the years, so it lands up being like a school reunion of sorts!!

I have to say well done to my good mate Barney who won Best Day Time Presenter. I guess playing Celine Dion does have its benefits :)

Also, it was great to chat to David Gresham who was one of the main reasons I got into radio. As a small kid I used to listen to him host Springbok Radio's Top 20 ("keep your feet on the ground and reach for the stars"!).

My show was nominated for best Commercial Music Show (which I won last year). This year it went to Radio Algoa, so well done to the lads there.

But I didn't walk away from the awards empty handed. I still landed up being a winner... because just before leaving for the event, my daughter came up to me and gave me the biggest kiss. THAT is worth more than anything else.


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The Justin Bieber prank that SO many people fell for

People (and pimples) erupted yesterday morning! I was hosting the Breakfast Show on 94.7 Highveld Stereo and, together with the Eyewitness News team, we pulled a prank which honestly I didn't think too many people would fall for. How wrong we were! We had thousands of Beliebers VERY upset yesterday... first because they thought the scam was true.. and then just as upset with us after they realised they fell for an April Fool's joke.

Maybe it was because it was a public holiday lots of people were half asleep and didn't realise it was 1 April.

We said that the Department of Basic Education had declared that no under 16s would be allowed to attend the Justin Bieber concert because it falls on a school night. These were just some of the responses:


Thanks to everyone that was gullible enough to fall for the joke... it made it SO worthwhile! :)

Staying with the Easter weekend, Tayla-Jean had so much fun searching for Easter eggs in the garden on Sunday morning. But it wasn't the only thing we were searching for. We spotted a spider as big as my hand on the garden gate. Even worse, a few minutes later it was no longer there. So we spent the day with half an eye out for a flesh-eating spider. In fact, we had to keep checking on where our chihuahua was just in case.

We had about 15 friends and family over for Easter Sunday lunch (I decided not to tell the people chilling in the garden about the spider).

This last Saturday on the Kia Take40sa I caught up with Charles Kelly from Lady Antebellum. It's always a pleasure chatting to artists who are really keen to reach out to their fans (unlike Chris Daughtry who was half asleep when I interviewed him and wasn't interested at all). Here is the full interview if you missed it:

Tomorrow is my baby girl's 3rd birthday. She's growing up so fast. Tomorrow's blog is dedicated to Tayla-Jean. Daddy loves you.

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Goodbye to a legendary 5FM DJ

If you're old school, you'll remember the name Phil Wright from Capital 604 and 5FM. For many years he was also one of the main voices on Top Billing.

Phil was always a contradiction. He looked liked someone you wouldn't want to bump into in a bright alley let alone a dark one. He was a die hard metal head, balding on top with long hair down the sides, always wearing old Metallica t-shirts. Yet in our time together at 5FM I got to know a gentle giant. A soft spoken deejay with the best velvet voice to ever grace our airwaves.

He always ended his shows with his signature sign off "Taa raa".


I remember doing a radio course back in 1992 desperately trying to get onto radio, and Phil walked past on his way to the 5FM studio to host the Top 40, carrying his big silver box (probably full of snakes.. his other passion).  I was in awe.

This veteran jock was booted from 5FM back in 2002, and it was the start of most of us leaving over the next year or two as the station embarked in a different direction.

Today, along with my other ex-5FM jocks, we mourn the loss of a radio legend. I might not have spoken to Phil in many years, but it's like yesterday we were working together. Tributes are pouring in on twitter from the likes of Darren Scott, Derek the Bandit, Barney Simon, Janine Purkiss, Sasha Martinengo, Ian F and Steve Smith. For all that we are now scattered around the country and globe, we are all united by a brotherhood that was the old 5fm.

Steve Smith dug up this old video that we all featured in, including Phil, back in the 90s:


Rest in peace Phil. I have no doubt you will be the voice artist in the heavens.
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