Roger’s first introduction to Rock ‘n’ Roll music was in 1958 watching a Cliff Richard performance of 'Move It' on a black and white 6-inch television. 'Move It' became the first record Roger ever bought and a song which Cliff fittingly played at his memorial concert in 1989. His first foray into playing music for others began with Roger playing his records out the front window of his terrace house in Surbiton just to see the reaction of kids passing by.
When he left school in 1960 he had no idea what he wanted to do for a career and he fell into the Merchant Navy. His passion for music developed as he tuned into different signals on his radio while sailing around the world. After 5 years in the Navy he decided he needed a change and an article in the Sunday Times discussing the likelihood of commercial radio being introduced into the UK caught his attention. So a plan was hatched and he bought a one-way ticket to America (where commercial radio was well established) to try and break into the radio industry. Roger’s logic being that when commercial radio finally got approved in the UK, he would be one of the few people with the necessary experience.
|Playlist - Career Beginnings
|Roger talking about his first introduction to Rock ‘n’ Roll
|Roger talking about playing records in his childhood
|Roger talking about his decision to leave the navy and move into radio
Roger turned up at a station called WPTR in Albany, upstate New York and asked for any job just to gain some experience in the industry. He chose WPTR due to their powerful transmitter which he used to pick up on the ships all the way across the Atlantic. Based on nothing more than the fact that Roger had an English accent, the program director stuck him on the air and told him to pretend he was friends with The Beatles, The Stones, Herman’s Hermits, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Dave Clark Five etc. Without a work permit Roger was to return to the UK after a month. However due to his popularity with the listeners the station offered him his own show. Roger began his permanent 8pm - Midnight slot on April 1st 1966.
|Playlist - WPTR
|Roger talking about WPTR
|WPTR 17th Aug 1966
|WPTR November 1966 final show
Then in late 1966 Roger was approached and offered a job with CFOX in Montreal where the owner had been tuning into his WPTR show. CFOX was a country music station which was changing over to the mainstream top 40. The world EXPO was being held in Montreal in 1967 so it was an easy decision to make and off he went to Canada. It was at CFOX where Roger really learnt his craft as a DJ. He was given the 8pm to 2am slot Monday to Friday and Noon to 6pm on Sundays. Often, when it was time for the station to go off air at 2am the listeners called in asking Roger to stay on. He’d carry on playing records till the breakfast guy started at 6am, so he’d regularly broadcast way over his scheduled 36 hours most weeks! Then apart from a few months when he left over an argument about playing Cat Stevens records (they later apologised and asked him to return) Roger spent four very happy years at CFOX. It was during this time in Montreal in 1969 that John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their eight day 'bed-in' for world peace. Everyday Roger did an afternoon show from the bedside and he actually featured on ‘Give Peace a Chance’ by playing percussion with an ashtray on the coffee table.
|Playlist - CFOX
|Roger talking about his move to CFOX
|Roger talking about John Lennon bed-in for peace
|CFOX June 1969
North America was only ever going to be a temporary home for Roger. When the Conservatives won the 1970 General Election it brought the reality of commercial radio in the UK a step closer and the following year he returned home. However, the Government legislation took longer than expected so Roger took a job with UBN (a closed circuit radio station for United Biscuit factories nationwide). UBN turned into a training ground for many of the future stars of commercial radio. Roger also had two, four week stints on Radio 1. Not wanting to jeopardise any potential move to Capital Radio he worked under the pseudonym ‘Bob Baker’ while at the BBC.
|Playlist - Early Career
|Roger talking about his return to the UK and his time on UBN and Radio 1
|UBN show 1972
|Radio 1 ‘Bob Baker’ Ep. 1
|Radio 1 ‘Bob Baker’ Ep. 2
|Radio 1 ‘Bob Baker’ Ep. 3
|Radio 1 ‘Bob Baker’ Ep. 4