7 Days in Dubai - - ENTERTAINMENT -

lot has changed over the last 25 years in Dubai. Back in 1991, there was cer­tainly no sign of the world’s tallest build­ing. There wasn’t much call for man-made is­lands ei­ther, let alone bustling ar­eas such as Dubai Ma­rina, JLT or Down­town.

It was a vastly dif­fer­ent city and a dif­fer­ent pre-in­ter­net, pre-mo­bile era.

But in a pe­riod of vast change and rapid growth, one voice has stayed con­stant to the city’s res­i­dents. To­day, DJ Mark Lloyd will be cel­e­brat­ing 25 years of broad­cast­ing on the air­waves when he pre­sents day­time travel show The Ticket on Dubai Eye.

His smooth de­liv­ery, friendly tone and ban­ter with co-pre­sen­ters Stef Bur­gon and Zahra Soar will be fa­mil­iar to many lis­ten­ers.

They might not know that Mark, orig­i­nally from Old­ham in the north of Eng­land, first ar­rived in the city as a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cian in 1985. The pi­ano man got his break on air on Septem­ber 8 1991, on a show called Good Sounds for a sta­tion then known as Dubai FM.

He ex­plains: “A lot of my friends had said that I knew a lot about mu­sic and had the voice for ra­dio, and en­cour­aged me to give it a blast. We had a child on the way so I was look­ing for a bit more sta­bil­ity too to be hon­est. For my au­di­tion, I re­mem­ber my first song was Some­thing Hap­pened on the Way to Heaven by Phil Collins. A nice, punchy song with a long in­tro.

“Back in those days, I had no com­puter to tell me how many sec­onds I had but I got it bang on and the pro­ducer was re­ally pleased.”

From his big break at Good Sounds, an hour­long show full of love songs and hits, Mark went on to helm a num­ber of shows.

From the week­end break­fast through to Planet Jazz and a pop­u­lar Fri­day re­quest show, Mark was then tasked to head up Dubai’s first-ever talk ra­dio sta­tion as Dubai Eye was born 13 years ago. Ca­reer high­lights for this pas­sion­ate mu­sic fan in­clude in­ter­views with Quincy Jones, Ge­orge Benson, Al Jar­reau and Blondie as well as a one-week spe­cial he broad­cast from Hol­ly­wood for the Os­cars. Mark has seen a lot change in Dubai. But there’s been a lot of change in his ca­reer, life and of course that hair­style! Mark Lloyd (from top) broad­cast­ing from the Os­cars in Hol­ly­wood, in the stu­dio with Ja­son Lum­ber and part of the team back in the day with Dubai FM 92.

For­mer co-pre­sen­ter Ja­son Lum­ber jokes: “There is never a dull mo­ment with Mark. Of course his new hair­styles are al­ways crop­ping up, par­don the pun, to turn heads! But he’s a real pro­fes­sional, he’s got fab­u­lous tim­ing and a pleas­ant per­son­al­ity which is quite sim­ply made for ra­dio.”

Now 58 and mar­ried to Jean, Mark is also a proud dad to Luther and Rox­anne. And work has come a long way since he was first driv­ing up and down the two-lane road between Dubai and Abu Dhabi for gigs. “I used to dress up for ra­dio, in a shirt and tie and brief­case,” he laughs. The brief­case was a vi­tal piece of kit in those days. “It had my Guin­ness Book of facts and fig­ures and my papers and mag­a­zines with pieces that I had high­lighted, be­cause of course we had no in­ter­net back then. Now of course there’s dig­i­tal mu­sic and the in­ter­net is a game changer.” Mark, a mu­sic head who loves ra­dio, has the best of both worlds, pre­sent­ing The Ticket and an af­ter­noon slot on the 92 Smooth dig­i­tal sta­tion. He says: “I’m proud I’ve man­aged to clock up 25 years. And I’m lucky that I still get let­ters from lis­ten­ers who say they en­joy what I do.”

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