Adrian Goldberg took a step backwards to move his career forwards - as Graham Young finds out.
Having recently launched a new, six-days-a-week show on BBC WM, Adrian Goldberg has revealed how ‘lucky’ he is to be back at the radio station where he made his name.
The Baggies fan had quit WM’s breakfast show in the summer of 2006 as part of an ambitious bid to launch an internet and film-making career.
Before long, and having previously vowed never to leave Birmingham on a full-time basis, he was making ends meet by working in London on TalkSport’s weekday overnight shows – while his partner Sabra and their two daughters, now seven and four, remained at the heart of the Midlands waiting for his calls on Skype.
Goldberg would be on air from the capital for a mammoth five-hour stretch at once, relying not on old records but on audience calls in order to fill those vast gaps of time between the ads and news bulletins.
Sometimes reduced to just three hours’ sleep, those days were undoubtedly tough.
But today there seems to have been real method in his madness.
If he could do that, then anything is now possible.
Last September, Goldberg took over Ed Doolan’s two-hour lunchtime show from Mondays to Thursdays to add to his Saturday morning Soapbox.
And now in his first shake-up after taking charge, BBC WM’s new manager Gareth Roberts has moved Joanne Malin to the Monday to Thursday slot from noon-2pm while Goldberg has been given a three-hour, 9am-noon show six days per week.
His seven-hour increase in air-time to 18 hours means that he’ll now be spending ten per cent of all of the hours in every week voicing and receiving opinions on WM’s airwaves.
Goldberg, who has also recently presented a news special for Radio 4 as well as Radio Five Live’s drive time show during his holidays, will continue to host 5 Live Investigates from either Manchester or London on Sunday nights.
“I am a very, very lucky man,” he says.
“Hopefully I’ll now be able to pick my daughters up every day from school instead of having five minutes on Skype.
“I realise you are very lucky in life if you are good at one thing and I like to think I’m half decent.
“To deny yourself the chance to do the thing you are best at in the world... in the long term, that was a bit self-defeating.
“I kept reading the internet would take over TV and I thought if I made films people would pay to watch them.
“I think I was a bit ahead of the curve and it was a failed business model.”
Leaving the BBC, he says, taught him how much he missed his forte.
“Sometimes you have to take brave decisions even if it doesn’t work out for you and I wouldn’t change the slightly wonky career path I’ve taken.
“I’m a better broadcaster by miles than when I left WM because I’ve had that life experience.
“TalkSport is a brilliant station and working overnights and doing a five-hour talk show – and nobody does five hours! – gave me incredible confidence to think that I could ask the right questions and push the right buttons.
“I know how to get the phones going. During the week we’ll keep trying to set the agenda, but on Saturdays we want listeners to take over so that we have anarchy on the airwaves!”
Listen to any station today and it’s clear that listeners are taking part more than ever before, either by calling in, texting or sending emails.
But Goldberg still insists two people deserve praise for creating the market in the first place.
“Tony Butler and Ed Doolan are two of the greatest presenters anywhere in the English-speaking world,” he says. “And then there’s Jon Gaunt who has taken American-style shock jockery and made it his own. Because of those people who have gone before me (on WM), listeners have got used to being on air.”
Two of Goldberg’s biggest critics sit at home and still offer some ‘lively’ words of their own to their boy.
Mum Kitty, 85, was a domestic, father Rudy, 87, a factory warehouseman. so there’s no risk of their son having his feet anywhere other than firmly on the ground.
That’s also why he could never be jealous of Adrian Chiles – not after the fellow Baggies fan once helped him to get a foothold in the unpredictable world of television.
“It was back in 1998 when BBC Breakfast wanted someone to present a World Cup Desk,” says Goldberg.
“Adrian put my name forward and I’ll always be grateful because that led me to do Watchdog for four years.”
Does he ever look at Adrian Chiles hosting any of his many TV shows, though, and think: ‘That could have been me?’
Goldberg adds: “If (his success) was meant to be for me then that’s what I would have become.
“But, although we are superficially similiar – we’re both called Adrian, each have two daughters, support the Baggies and have similar accents – he’s a very different kind of broadcaster to me.
“I think I’m harder edged as a person than Adrian and as a broadcaster.
“We might bump into each other at the Baggies, but we’re not drinking pals.
“I think together with Frank Skinner we’ve helped to make the Midlands accent acceptable.
“I remember when TalkSport began as Talk Radio, and there was an outcry when Samantha Meah went from Birmingham to the breakfast show.
“And it was all because of her accent.”
He declares the general subject of accents now to be ‘boring’.
But anyone who follows Goldberg across the dial can’t help but notice how his own voice changes from WM to 5 Live and Radio Four.
“I tend to be reading on Radio Four and they tell me to slow down,” he smiles.
“5 Live’s interviews are different again and, on BBC WM I’m myself doing phone-ins..
“I’m not changing my accent!”