Radio Times

Face behind the voice Aidan McManus

Portobello Radio


Age 62

Current job For the past ten years he’s presented FlipsideLo­ndon Radio, initially on K2K Radio, now on Portobello Radio, Wednesdays 7—9pm. “I get publishers sending me books, mainly London history, and if I like a book I say, ‘Let’s get the writer on and do an interview.’ Sometimes I email famous music people and I say, ‘Do you fancy it?’ At other times me and my mate, Alan Blizzard, just pick a subject and debate it: sort of like you’re sitting in the pub, talking about this stuff, but you can play some of the music while you’re doing it.”

CV Born in a hospital that’s now the Lanesborou­gh Hotel, Belgravia, he grew up in north-west London. After he left school he worked in betting shops. “I did a job that doesn’t exist any more, a board marker, and then I was a manager for about eight years.” He lived for four years in San Francisco, putting on events for what is now the Saint Andrew’s

Society Foundation. Back in the UK he became a tour guide, specialisi­ng in Soho and west London. Themes included David Bowie “during the ten years when he was a complete failure”. A woman on one of his tours asked him if he would like to work on radio. “I just started doing it for fun really. Portobello Radio is basically in two big laundry bags! All I need is an internet connection, microphone­s and a little mixer desk. I just plug my laptop into it. They basically let me do what I want.”

Social media, yes or no? “Yes! How else are you meant to promote yourself these days? Plus I get most of my listeners by posting my shows on Mixcloud after the event.”

Best moments “Meeting people I’ve always wanted to know things about. Brian James of the Damned, he was great. The Sex Pistols’ road crew have been on a couple of times. They were a good laugh.”

Worst moment “I’ve only had one person that was an a***hole. He turned up and he was snotty all the time. My producer said, ‘You’re gonna kill me. I forgot to record it.’ I said, ‘I don’t want anyone to listen to that again anyway.’”

Off air He still lives in north-west London. “My missus died last year so I’m single again, man.”

First radio memory “My mum always had the radio on when I was a kid — probably Radio 1. Radio was a big thing. If someone was going on about a record, you had to keep listening and hope they played it!”

Favourite broadcaste­rs “I wasn’t a huge fan of John Peel’s patter, but back in the punk days he was the only man to play God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols, so I used to listen to him a lot. And I used to love Mark Webster on Kiss FM. All of the blokes on there sounded like me.”

Ambition/Dream job “I don’t really count what I do as a job. To be honest with you, I could do with a couple of quid more. But work-wise it’s the happiest I’ve ever been.”

Secret skills “I used to work in a butchers when I was a kid. I can still clean a chicken out with my eyes closed.”

Listen at portobello­

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