The fun part of any book review is deciding which sentence to extract from the body of the text. Rob Waller, I’m happy to say, left me spoiled for choice when he got in touch yesterday. As a news journalist at Radio Clyde, Rob was particularly interested in my descriptions of the Clyde newsroom in the early nineties, just a few years before he started working there himself. This got me hunting through my scrapbook and I found the photograph above which was taken to publicise Clyde’s coverage of the 1992 General Election. Anyway, that’s enough preamble, here’s Rob’s review:
‘The Red Light Zone’ is an absorbing read from cover to cover.
Like all good broadcasters Jeff has a way of writing which makes you feel that he is talking to you alone.
The book provides a fascinating glimpse of the inner workings of BBC Scotland for those of us who’ve only looked in from the outside. (The chilling descriptions of management meetings are perhaps a comfort to those of us who’ve stayed on the commercial side of the fence.)
I joined Radio Clyde a couple of years after Jeff jumped ship but his vivid depiction of life in the newsroom is exactly how I remember it when I started. It is inspiring to read the adventures of someone I’ve looked up to and admired who sat at the same desks and spoke into the same microphones that I do.
Jeff’s passion for discovering new talent is a theme which runs through the book and his stories are a useful reminder that the most essential attributes for a journalist / broadcaster are curiosity and an ability to connect with people – everything else can be taught.
The most fascinating chapters for me were the ones where he writes so movingly about the impact of his career on family life and the realisation of the inevitable consequences of those choices and compromises.
Those looking for salacious gossip or for the settling of scores will be disappointed – with the notable exception of an amusing chapter on the adventures of a high-profile breakfast presenter in the Highlands.
I do hope there will be a sequel.’