“imbued with a love for the creativity of programme makers”

rlz poster

See? I told you it was a love story. Mary Picken was one of the first reviewers to receive a copy of The Red Light Zone and she kindly gave us an early glance of her article so that we could include a quote in the book itself. Mary’s website liveanddeadly.net is well respected among readers and authors. It’s mainly devoted to crime fiction – one of my own enthusiasms – but Mary spent part of her career working for BBC Nations and Regions and so, as she says, was interested to read my memoirs “partly to see if it rang true”.

Here’s what she thought:

The Red Light Zone – An Insider’s Laugh ‘n’ Tell of BBC Radio by Jeff Zycinski @JeffZycinski @LunicornPress @Lunicorn

Chapter 10: The Elephant in the Room


Let’s do the Show Right Here: “News anchor Jackie Bird presented the first series and compered shows across Scotland, always bringing another famous name to help boost ticket sales. Barbara Dickson sang her hit songs in Aberfeldy; magician Paul Daniels conspired with the audience in Brookfield, explaining that radio was a great medium for magic and making an entire elephant disappear.”

-The Red Light Zone

Chapter 6: Reaching for the Stars

hollywood studio

“Before we left Hamburger Hamlet, I went to the restroom and looked at myself in the mirror. I was wearing glasses, a baseball cap and a Hollywood t-shirt with the logo of a silent era camera surrounded by stars. I looked a little like Michael Moore, but I looked much more like the character they always arrested by mistake in movies about serial killers: not the killer himself, but the creepy, fat guy that lived in his mom’s basement eating Twinkies – the wrong guy. Not Michael Moore and not even the main psycho. That guy!”

-The Red Light Zone

‘An absorbing read from cover to cover’

Clyde News 1992

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.’


Chapter 3: Money for Old Rope

Southern Reporter cutting

“The drawers of the desk were empty but for several Kit Kat biscuits. Clare explained that my predecessor had a fondness for Kit Kats and coffee. ‘And the guy before him was obsessed with flags.’


   ‘Yes he wanted a wall-mounted flagpole outside the building so that he could fly the BBC flag here in the Borders.’


   ‘So that he could mark Royal birthdays and deaths. He wrote lots of letters to London about it but he had no joy.’

   ‘Who did he write to?’

   ‘I’m not sure. There might be a Head of Flags.’

   ‘Really? I suppose it’s possible.’ “

-The Red Light Zone



Chapter 2: Strippers and Dolphins

Jeff Editing

“There was also an annoying bouncer who had been instructed to keep an eye on me and who kept leaning into my microphone shouting ‘He can’t wait to see the naked girls!’ In truth, I was quite nervous about seeing the naked girls, not because of my youthful shyness, but because I couldn’t figure out how I could translate nudity into audio.”

– The Red Light Zone