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102.4 (103 in the Stroud Valleys) Severn Sound FM was the syndicated radio station Gloucestershire, England, operating as part of The Mix network.

Beginning in 1980, the Station focussed on contemporary pop and, as such, draws a very wide audience, in my town (Stroud) almost everyone aged between seven and twenty five listens to it at least a few times a week. Although sometimes cheesy the station has a very wide appeal, the tone is similar to the BBC’s Radio 1, but, due to the quasi-local ethos and commercial status is able to broadcast local adverts and utilise local presenters at certain times of day.

The presenters are generally in their twenties or early thirties and have the standard issue happy-go-lucky, slightly mad sounding voices, on some shows like “The Morning Crew” they seem to be just talking amongst themselves, but I believe in one show it was revealed that a lot of it is in fact scripted. For many years, the Mix network broadcast “Late Night Love”, a programme for those who feel the need to tell the country about their lovelife. This was presented by Graham Torrington, whose deep smooth voice was apprarently enjoyed by female listeners.

The radio station often features request shows (where listeners can ring in and request a favourite song), although it is suspicious how similar the requests are to whatever would have been played anyway. They have been known “not to find” a Cliff Richard single and put on something else instead.

In the past, the station has featured two, five minute comedy sketches that are broadcast (if I remember rightly) at seven in the morning, eight fifteen in the morning, (I used to panic if I heard it, it meant I was VERY late for school) and four thirty in the afternoon. They were “The X-Fools” and “Billy Sparkle’s Showbiz Showdown.”

The X-Fools

The X-Fools are Special Agents Fax Smoulder, a dumb male agent parody of Fox Mulder and Donut Sulky a smart, female parody of Dana Skully, they had very strange, spoof X-Files style adventures. A typical except is as follows:

Attendant: Can I help you folks?
Sulky: Good evening sir.
Attendant: Well hel-lo sweetie-pie.
Smoulder: Hello sir. Federal agents. If I could ask you a couple of questions.
Attendant: Oh yeah, of course.
Smoulder: How much for this packet of chewing gum?
Attendant: Fifty cents.
Smoulder: Is there a decent motel around here?
Attendant: The Cockroach Inn.
Smoulder: Why do gas stations lock their restrooms?
Attendant: We're afraid someone might come in and clean 'em.
Sulky: Oh I see, you've been very helpful.
Smoulder: Thank you very much sir, okay.
Attendant: No problem. Y'all come back now, ya hear? Especially you, gorgeous.
Smoulder: I will, sir.

The X-Fools were aware of the Batman-style narrator and tended to respond with confusion to him

Narrator #1Have the X-Fools met their match?
Skully: Sorry I don’t smoke.

When you’ve just woken up and are dreading double maths, or work, or some other terrible event like a morning, the X-Fools are surprisingly effective for putting you comparitively a cheerful mood for the day.

Billy Sparkle’s Showbiz Showdown

This show replaced the X-Fools shortly after the Conservative Party lost the 2001 general elections. It is a roundup of showbiz news hosted by Billy, a strange man who sounds surprisingly similar to a certain politician. It is often topical, making fun of Big Brother, Saddam Hussein, Tony Blair and other showbiz topics. One of my favourite excerpts is:

Billy: Now I’m speaking to Tony Blair
TB: Uh, hello
Billy: Given the current Iraq crisis, what have you to say about the totalitarian regime over there?
TB: Well I believe we have a lot to learn from the Iraqis, no-one complains about the national health service over there, and crime is very low. Of course they also all worship the leader over there-
Billy: (Cutting in) Well that’s all we have ti- TB: (Cutting in, maniacal) All hail Presedent Blair.

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