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volume 5
july 2002

You are on my mind


  In memory of Howard Rose, aka Crispian St. John, aka Jay Jackson
by John Kenning
  On the evening of July 17th, 2002, Howard Rose, aka Crispian St. John, aka Jay Jackson died in hospital after surgery. John Kenning, founder of Radio Sovereign, wrote this tribute to the man who, as he says, lived and breathed radio.
1 The last time I saw Howard Rose — or Crispian St. John, as he was known then — was back in 1985. Crispian once told me that he had cribbed his name, in part, from a singer called Crispian St. Peters who had had a hit back in the 1960's with "You Were On My Mind." By 1985, Sovereign in the UK had finished and I was about to set off to the French and Italian Rivieras to set up Radio Sovereign International and I had pleaded with Howard to come with me to help set up the new station but Howard had his own plans — he wanted to set up a radio magazine — and he declined my offer. I had hoped to have met up with Howard again one day, alas, this will never happen now.
2 I had come to know Howard well through the early Sovereign days and somewhere, I have a photo of Howard, Paul McKenna and me which was taken by my girlfriend at Foxtrot Oscars, a restaurant in London. In the photo, taken in 1983, the three of us are seen plotting how to set up Radio Sovereign in the UK. The things I remember about Howard — apart from his craggy face — were his radio talents. He had a brilliant radio style which I and many of the other jocks on Sovereign envied. His voice was also highly distinctive and reminded me of the old Radio London DJ style from which he probably emulated his. Nonetheless, Howard somehow integrated his own style into a unique blend of everything that was best about the 1960's offshore pirate pop jocks.
3 Then there was his sheer professionalism. OK, he had many weaknesses, but when I chatted to him about radio, his sheer brilliance and knowledge of all things "radio" was an inspiration to me and I learned much from this slightly eccentric radio man! Howard really knew about radio and today's so called "radio programmers" and "planners" would have learned much from him. But then, I have always held the view that real radio pirates know more about radio than any of their modern day contempories.
4 I always remember Howard bellowing to other jocks "Give me a bang when you're ready, Shag," his way of asking for a cue or a wake up call. It went on to become a standard saying on Sovereign and every jock adopted the phrase when they needed a cue. At one point, Howard used to do the breakfast show on Sovereign — the station was based at my home in Twickenham where Howard had commandered one of the bedrooms. He would often roll out of bed, switch on the mic and even though he was still half asleep, his voice would boom out over the air as if he had been up all night practising his opening link ... proof, if any were needed, that this guy lived and breathed radio.
5 On several occasions, Howard didn't make it to the studio on time for his opening announcement. So he would cunningly start to play a record from about halfway through the song, then he'd back announce the record as if he had been there all along! I challenged him about this once and accused him of being late on air ... he just smiled and said my radio receiver had probably not been tuned in correctly and that of course he had been in the studio on time. What could I say?
  RIP Howard, if ever there was A Real Radio Salty Dog ... it was you.
  2002 © Soundscapes