Ridge Radio Presenter of the Month: Jonathan Spencer

Ridge Radio is Tandridge's local community radio station. Broadcasting from its studio in Soper Hall, Caterham, it is staffed by 48 volunteer presenters. To listen, download the free mobile app, ask any Alexa-enabled device to install and then enable Ridge Radio, or visit www.ridgeradio.co.uk and click 'Listen Live'.

This month, our Presenter in the Spotlight is retired doctor, Jonathan Spencer, whose Wednesday evening show is from 21:00 to 23:00.

Ridge Radio presenter Jonathan Spencer

What is your show called and what type of music do you play?

'Nothing But The Blues': the clue is in the name! The music is all blues,

but the range is huge, going back as much as 100 years for some of the songs, to recent releases. It’s aimed at everyone who loves blues music, as well as anyone who hasn’t heard much blues but might be interested in finding out more. I hope my choice of music gives a feel for the evolution of blues, from its origin among black American slaves to the present day, and how it has branched into other genres such as jazz, rock, soul, reggae and even electronica.

How long have you been at Ridge Radio, and had you done any radio presenting before?

I've been there just over two years: I started in May 2019. I had never done anything like this before but thanks to the brilliant training, provided by Andy Mac and Amanda Weston, I was able to hit the ground running!

How difficult was it to become a presenter?

Surprisingly easy. By chance, I met Mel DJ, who has a show on Thursday evenings and also organises Ridge Radio events, at a Surrey and South London R&B Club gig in Soper Hall. He mentioned there was no blues show on Ridge Radio and I said I’d quite like to put that right. Mel put me in touch with manager Andy Mac, and the rest is history.

What was your day job before you retired?

Medical doctor. I started out in general practice but moved to occupational health, working in the oil industry in Libya, the NHS at Kings College Hospital and finally at the UK Civil Aviation Authority.

Are you a local lad?

Depends how you define local! I’ve lived in Caterham for the past 26 years and south London for over 40 years.

Apart from volunteering at Ridge Radio, what do you like doing in your spare time? 

Music – I have played harmonica (blues harp) in various bands over the years – and travelling (when it was possible!). My last trip was northern India and Nepal, in November and December 2019. I also volunteer as a steward at East Surrey Museum and in the summer I like playing bowls.

Do you go to live music events and if so, what was the last one?

I love live music and go to at least one gig a week, as well as jam nights, where I can get up and play my harmonica and meet up with muso pals. The Tuesday Night Music Club in Coulsdon is probably the best live music venue locally. I’ve seen no end of great bands there, including The Cinelli Brothers, an Italian band now based in London, who were totally electrifying a few weeks ago. The jam nights I always go to are at Limpsfield British Legion, hosted by The Mike Panos Band, and The Swan pub, in West Wickham, hosted by The Swamp City Shakers, on the first and second Thursdays of the month, respectively.

Who are your favourite artists and why?

I have too many favourites to list, especially as I enjoy all types of music, not just blues!


However, among blues artists, I think I would have to say Taj Mahal is my favourite because his mastery of country and urban blues styles, and how he has developed them with elements of country, reggae and jazz. To anyone wanting to get into the blues, I would say listen to Muddy Waters, B B King, Buddy Guy and Sonny Boy Williamson to hear what inspired the likes of Eric Clapton, Rory Gallagher, Joe Bonamassa and Stevie Ray Vaughan.

What is your favourite book?

Another impossible question! My favourite book about blues is 'The Story Of The Blues' by Paul Oliver, and to anyone wanting to learn blues harmonica, I’d recommend 'Blues Harp' by Tony Glover.

Finally, what would you say to someone who wanted to become a presenter at Ridge Radio?

Go for it! Contact Andy Mac (andy@ridgeradio.co.uk) and you will receive a warm welcome and all the support and training you need.

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