Microphone in radio studio
Published 04 Apr 2019

Sometimes you find yourself in situations where it’s hard not to think “How did I find myself here?”

That was the thought that came to me as I stood at reception in the Deeside Leisure Centre, asking the reception staff to direct me to the Radio Deeside offices. Radio Deeside is a community radio station serving Flintshire and the surrounding areas. I had been invited to be the guest on their regular Business Break Live slot.

Relationship building is of massive importance to Pro-Networks, not only with customers and suppliers, but also with other businesses and organisations in the north west. It was one of our contacts from a Business Networks International chapter who put me in touch with Geoff Stevenson, the presenter for Business Break Live.

Geoff and I swapped a few emails and had a chat over the phone, and a date was set. I was to present myself at their studios on March 26th, half an hour or so before we were due to go on the air.

I was looking forward to being on the show, but there was a slowly growing nagging feeling at the back of my brain. It was that word ‘Live’. I’m used to talking in public, presenting training courses and other similar activities where I must stand up and speak to an audience. Usually these go according to plan and the audiences seem to be appreciative. But for those events I have a prepared talk or slide show. I know my strengths and weaknesses, and I’m not that great at winging it, nor doing things off the cuff. And this live hour of radio was going to be much more like that.

Although there was no script the format of the show was going to be a ‘relaxed question and answer session’ and I knew that would help, but even so the dread of getting tongue-tied or having my mind go blank was enough to give me a little tingle of adrenaline as I walked to the studio.

Geoff Stevenson is a business advisor as well as a radio host, and so is well suited to chair a show such as Business Break Live. He welcomed me into the studio, I was given a pair of headphones, had a huge yellow microphone pointed at me and I sat waiting for the clock to tick round to 12:30 whilst Geoff wrapped up his previous segment.

And then we were on the air.

We talked about Pro-Networks, how it was formed back in 2002 by the merger of two compatible companies, one network and IT based, and the other software integration and development based. I described our engineering staff and the treadmill of exams and certifications that they are locked into, and how that works towards the Microsoft Gold competencies that Pro-Networks have.

We talked about projects Pro-Networks have completed, how we are industry agnostic, and that we can and do support customers from the tens of users up to the several thousands of users.

We discussed aspects of GDPR, and Brexit, and how Brexit might affect GDPR and data transfers out of the remaining EU states and into the UK.  We talked about cyber security, and some of the common threats facing the average SMEs, and how technology, certification and staff awareness training were all equally vital to a robust cyber security posture.

We also talked about Dave McKay the person, and what he does outside of work (writes C code and plays in a rock and roll band), and if I could invite anyone living or dead to a party who would it be.

I think it came as a surprise when I said it’d be a blend of early roots bluesmen like Howlin’ Wolf, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Willy Dixon, Muddy Waters and Little Walter and the core group of developers from Bell Labs who created the Unix operating system and the C language. Guys like Brian Kernighan, Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson, coding visionaries and pioneers to a man.

These two groups of people were innovators and instigators. Like the song says, the blues had a baby, and they named that baby rock and roll. Without the blues we wouldn’t have a fraction of the music that we have today. And without the Bell Labs guys we wouldn’t have had Unix and all the derivatives such as Linux, which runs most of the servers on the internet and in the cloud, and BSD which powers all of the Apple macOS devices.

The hour was over before I knew it and I was walking back to my car thinking “I didn’t say this, I didn’t say that, I could have explained that a bit better…”

I fired up the ignition and the music player came on. It was Howlin’ Wolf singing “I just can’t be satisfied”.

No, it’s not that, Wolf, it’s just that I’m not that great at winging it.