Sound Woman

Sound Woman

Hirsty’s long been one of my favourite broadcasters. And over the last few years or so, I’m pleased to say Hirsty’s been a friend too. From high octane (and very anorakky) Radio Academy Quiz nights, to talking pure radio over a pint, clearly this is someone who lives, sleeps and breathes radio.

By now you will probably have heard this remarkable interview where my friend told the world (via BBC Radio 5 live’s Stephen Nolan) that Simon was becoming Stephanie and from now on, will be known as the woman he’s always been.

This was hairs on the back of the neck radio. Brave, honest, intimate. And could there have been any more appropriate place for this rebirth than in the medium Steph loves and understands so well? Nolan avoids crassness largely (except with the inevitable penis question. As my friend Paris Lees says, “If you ask someone about their cock, you’re a cock.”)

I hope Steph always knew the support she’d get from friends and colleagues that love her. What may have been more uncertain was the reaction of her former Capital Yorkshire audience. This was an area Nolan mined very well … “Simon” was never more real than when he was on the air. Even the voice stuff, I found fascinating – even if at the end of the day, Steph makes the obvious point she’s still the same person. Hirsty is the same, regardless of the outside appearance.

It’s received wisdom that authenticity is an essential value for a broadcaster. I was never as good a presenter as I have been since joining Gaydio, the station I’m proud to chair. I remember on my way into the station for my first ever show, at 5 in the morning, I was checked out by a guy leaving a club. We shared that nod, that ‘alright mate’ and a smile, before I headed off into the building. And that became my first link. “Isn’t it always the way you meet a hot guy when you can do nothing about it?” That was a link I could never have done on the dozen or so stations I’d been on before. Almost all the broadcasters on Gaydio are LGB or T. We exist so that one day, the Stephs of the future may not need to remain Simon for so long.

If Steph’s bravery (and before her, Glen Richards/CJ) means one young person facing the same challenge (not a choice) finds it easier, or has a role model to look up to, I know she’ll be made up.

And now the secret’s out, get back on the radio, Steph. It needs you.

Love and respect.

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