This week Manchester Pride were pleased to catch a few words with Gaydio host and Pride friend Chris Holliday, to talk all things radio and all things Pride!
So Chris we believe you’ve been involved in radio since you were 16 years old. Can you tell us about your career so far?
In fact I guess you could say I started earlier - making some classic radio using my double cassette 'boom box' in my bedroom with my friend Andrew Ford. Sybil, Madonna and Michael Jackson all featured heavily. At the age of 16, I started presenting a show on a community station in the town where I grew up - just outside of Bristol. Phone-ins involved friends’ Mums and competition prizes reached the dizzy heights of a box of Malteasers! But it was here where I started to love radio.
After Uni and a stint at the Financial Times in London, I was enticed back to radio by a friend from Uni: Toby Whitehouse. Toby (with his friend Ian) had the mad idea of setting up a gay radio station for Manchester. Initially the station was on air for 2 or 4 weeks at a time – I presented a show about Pride before moving onto breakfast.
Last year I decided to give up the suits and the stability of corporate life and plunged into the world of radio full time. I now present Breakfast on Gaydio (I have never used so much eye cream) and Saturday mornings for BBC Radio Manchester (up against Graham Norton on Radio 2) with my original radio wife from Gaydio – Emma Goswell.
I also look after outreach projects for Gaydio – teaching a range of groups about radio. I work six days a week, but I love it. I feel very lucky to be doing what I’m doing at the moment.
You presented live from Manchester Pride’s VIP marquee last year. Who was the most interesting celeb that you interviewed?
It was great fun - even though I was losing my voice and sounded like Dot Cotton (I blame a throat infection and not the partying). I thought it would be a laugh to try and get dates with as many celebs as possible…
Target 1 - the male one from Same Difference; he agreed to go for a drink with me even though he's straight - I think he was after my shirt.
Target 2 - Mario from Big Brother (I have no idea why); after several hours of eye-flirting - absolutely nothing - not one text message. Mario - I'm still waiting for your call.
Seriously though - Ian McKellan was a real gent. After a rocky start to the interview, in which I asked him if he'd be wearing hot pants in the parade, he really opened up. Hearing him talk about the fight for equality was really something. The man's an inspiration.
You’ve attended Manchester Pride for a number of years now what would you say was your main highlight?
I love Manchester Pride.
I love the parade - I do the commentary for BBC and Gaydio.
I love the acts – the Gossip in 2007 were pure, sweaty awesomeness.
I love the club nights - I'm forever getting lost in Uni Challenge.
But for me the most important part is the HIV Candlelight Vigil in Sackville Gardens. I remember taking my friend Jamie to it for the first time. It was then – stood next to my best friend – when I started to think about what it must have been like when the virus first hit. Suddenly people were losing people they loved – and they didn’t know why. Manchester was at forefront of the fight back. It’s part of the city’s history. It shaped the gay community that we know today. After all – it’s why Pride was first set up - we should definitely remember this.
It’s so important that we keep raising awareness of HIV/AIDS. People are getting complacent – they shouldn’t. It’s never been easier to get tested.
Apart from working in radio you also run a monthly cabaret night in Manchester called Mish Mash. For those who have yet to check it out how would you describe it?
It's a total Mish Mash of comedy (sketches and stand-up), poetry and amazing music. I set it up with my friend Julia after we went to a mainstream comedy night – all the acts performing at this night were young, straight, white men – most of them telling jokes about rape. I mean, when was that ever funny? Where were the women? Where were the gays? Where were the pensioners doing stand-up?! We try and book as wide a range of acts as possible - from well known names (Barbara Nice performed with us at Pride last year) to new and upcoming acts. We're particularly interested in hearing from outrageous drag kings and queens at the moment. Or if you've always wanted to share a special talent then come 'fill our slot' - an open 5 minute slot where you can try whatever you like- music, comedy, yodeling. We perform every last Friday of the month at the original Kro Bar on Oxford Rd (opposite the Contact Theatre) in central Manchester. Check out our website for more info - www.mishmash1.com
Have you attended other Pride’s around the UK or even the world? If so, how does Manchester compare?
I have! Brighton Pride is always good - here's hoping their new charging system works for them. I always used to find myself on the train back up to Manchester - still covered in facial glitter - wondering why people were looking at me funnily!
Sydney was pretty amazing; tops off dancing to the Freemasons.
But I've introduced several friends, from all over the world, to Manchester Pride and they agree with me – it’s pretty damn special. Something Manchester should be very proud of.
And finally, are you excited about Manchester Pride’s 21st birthday celebration?
Yes I am!! The plans are already underway at Gaydio for some great coverage and I'm already planning my outfit. Best of British?! Jane McDonald?! She's a little over 21 though. One thing is certain - I must remember the throat sweets this year - or perhaps I’ll just try and get some sleep. Bring it on!
Catch Chris on Gaydio weekdays 7am – 10am.