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The eagle has landed – with the ring!

by Tuned In, with kmfm DJ Andy Walker Tuesday, April 22 2014
I am dedicating this week's column to Eagle Heights who are heroes to a bride and groom. Let me tell you the story.

My best friends, the now Mr Adam and Mrs Corinne Coles, had the happiest day of their lives by getting married at the beautiful Cooling Castle. Before I start to tell you how incredible Eagle Heights is, can I extend that to the team at Cooling Castle?

Adam the groom were expecting an owl ring bearer to fly in with the rings on Saturday.

At 8am on the big day he received a call from the company due to drive to Kent to say that they had to cancel. “No, not today!” echoed hundreds of times from Adam’s mouth and also my own as his best man I felt we could not let this beat us.

Adam, his nephew and I searching online via our smartphones for owl ring bearers and making calls like call centre workers on commission.

“Unfortunately, we can’t help” was the reply from all.

Then I received a text from a friend to say good luck and it clicked. She is a part-time wedding planner: she might know someone. Caroline thought I was winding her up, asking “do you know anyone who has an owl?”.

Caroline managed to get hold of Eagle Heights. This is the big “yes” moment - they said they could help.

Eagle Heights saying “yes” gets better too. They said they could provide an eagle and an owl. An eagle. Wow. It would be the eagle that would fly in as the ring bearer. Amazing. Not only were they happy to help, they would also be coming straight from filming, so it would be tight.
Not a problem, Adam was happy to put the wedding back by 15 or 20 minutes. It was the one thing that the bride Corinne wanted on her big day.

At just after 2pm, Chris and Alan arrived from Eagle Heights with a huge eagle called Kayla. She was 20 years old and a beauty to look at.

We spoke about what was to happen; the eagle was to fly in to Alan. At that very moment, Alan called me over, and asked me to wear the glove. What? We did not speak about this, but after the effort we had put in I was not now going to decline - and to be honest I was happy to be Kayla’s prey. She swooped in and landed with perfection on my arm. I took the rings and presented them to Adam and Corinne. Yes. We had done it.

What really stood out for me was how much Chris and Allen did afterwards. They were happy to stay around and have Kayla in the pictures.

I was so taken aback by how much they helped that I have looked into more about the team based in Eynsford, Dartford.

Not only do they home some amazing birds, they are heavily involved in conservational work, have a bird hospital and have their own classroom to teach the next generation how to look after our wildlife.

It seems the original company pulling out was the best thing that could have happened.

I’ll speak to you on kmfm, Monday - Friday 9-noon.

Andy

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Promising start to new musical year

by Tuned In, with kmfm DJ Andy Walker Friday, January 31 2014

Usually January is a month of quiet music releases. Artists are getting back from their Christmas holidays – extended ones – and getting back into the swing of things. We are occupied with doing exactly the same with our jobs and so music tends to get exciting again with new releases around the end of February.

However what is great to hear, and it may be in part due to downloads and how instantly we can access music we want and love, is how that new music is not waiting as long now. Why wait for new gems?

Into January and we have been dished up A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera. Their single, “Say Something” is a break up song that makes you listen to it a number of times. Relate to the lyrics, turn it up and absorb or simply admire its ability to grasp your ears. It’s a wonder of a song. It has been nearly as big as cheesecake in America and we are playing it at kmfm.

A Great Big World are two friends, Ian Axel and Chad Vaccarino who met at New York University. After writing songs together for a few years they had “Say Something” feature during TV show in Dancing With The Stars. Christina Aguilera heard it and had to be part of the single. The rest as they say is history. If you have not heard the song yet, keep it kmfm as you will do very soon. It will capture you.

A nice change in temp awaits your ears this month with Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne. Their song, “Rather Be” seemed to come from nowhere.

Now it is one of the biggest singles in the UK. When you hear it you will remember it instantly but it may be referred to as “that song, Rather Be” as you need some reminder of the name Clean Bandit.

They are a band from these shores. Brothers Jack and Luke Patterson, Grace Chatto and Milan Neil Amin-Smith have been together for a couple of years.

Their hit single “Rather Be” is an uplifting slice of a tune that can also be a relaxing song that also works if you were in a lounge bar. It sounds like nothing out at the moment. It’s so catchy and that is partly down to co-writer Jimmy Napes from Disclosure.

You will know them for massive hits like “Latch” and “White Noise”.

Credit, too, to Jess Glynne whose vocals have been likened to that of Adele’s by a kmfm listener who emailed me to ask who this song was by.

I love how the start of the New Year is throwing exciting music at us. We are only just facing the start of February and already 2014 is a very good year for music.

Wait until the summer, when the anthems are out and our car windows are down. Cheers to that!

I’ll talk to you on kmfm throughout your workday, Monday to Friday from 9am until 12pm.

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My dream break went without a bump

by Tuned In, with kmfm Breakfast Show's Emma Saint Friday, November 15 2013

Wow! two weeks really does fly by when you’re having fun! I got back from holiday on Monday and thank you for all your Facebook messages asking about my break.

Florida was totally brilliant. Being 25 weeks pregnant, I have to say I was a little apprehensive about flying, but it all went like a dream. Anyone who has been pregnant (or sat next to someone pregnant on a plane) will know that sitting down for a long period of time in a small, cramped place isn’t exactly fun!

But luckily for me we flew with Virgin Atlantic and paid a little bit more for premium economy. I would definitely recommend it. We were greeted by friendly staff from the moment we arrived at the club lounge where you can start your holiday with a breakfast – or even a cheeky cocktail if you’re not pregnant!

The seats on the plane are a lot bigger and for me that was such a relief as my bump is growing fast everyday! There is also a lot more leg room and the flight attendants were always making sure I was drinking enough and having plenty to eat. I can’t thank them enough.

After landing, we hit the Disney parks. Although I couldn’t go on many of the rides, everything was as magical as I remembered!

This week though it’s been back to reality and although it’s nice to have a break I love coming back to work – how many people can say that?

And with so much going on it feels like Christmas is going to be here in no time. We have lots of Christmas light switch-ons coming up and some great prizes to give away on air and online. So you better make sure you’re following us on Facebook at kmfmofficial/Facebook.com and twitter, just search kmfmofficial and you could find out about these prizes before anyone else!

Hopefully you enjoyed our Nineties weekend. I was whisked back to my school days and loved every minute.

We have some more winning weekends coming so make sure you stay tuned!

Have a great week!

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When can we have 'national day off' day?

by Tuned In, with kmfm DJ Andy Walker Saturday, July 6 2013
It seems every other day is a national something-or-other day. Last week was National Kissing Day. Where was your first kiss? Was it a high school sweetheart? kmfm news journalist Jess Banham revealed to Kent during kmfm Drivetime that hers was with her then boyfriend after 'Jurassic Park The Lost World.'

Romantic huh. Two hours of dinosaur action and then she received a peck on the lips and she went her way and he his. They were 11 at the time and he did not want to kiss Jess in the cinema as his sister was sitting in the row behind. Ah, young love and the embarrassments that sometimes come with it.

In June alone it is 'Flip A Coin Day', 'Hug Your Cat Day', 'National Yo-Yo Day' and 'Repeat Day.' Imagine if you literally had to repeat a day. Imagine if it was a Monday! Of course I and I think nobody really knows what these days mean, why they are put in place or even who invented them.

We seem to have missed the good days like 'National Doughnut Day' - yes, I received no doughnuts. Plus 'National Eclair Day.' Surely these days are invented to celebrate what they are highlighting. Were you offered a free Eclair last week? Nope. Well why do we have these days. In between writing this I am flicking through the internet trying to find out the answer.

Perhaps a bunch of scientists decided that we need humorous days to make us smile? Who has the final say that a day can be named? Government? The Queen? Can you imagine her Majesty giving her seal of approval to 'National Pink Day?' On June 23 we are encouraged to wear pink and make food with pink colouring. Cupcakes with pink icing, for example. This day completely bypassed me. As did 'National Take Your Dog To Work Day.' That followed 'Pink Day.' There is no 'Take Your Cat' or 'Take Your Fish To Work Day.' It does not seem like equal rights to me. Surely a work place full of cats is more therapeutic for your team rather than a bunch of butch dogs sniffing around for their next meal - your lunch.

No one seems to have invented 'National Day Off Day.' What would happen if every person in the world took the day off? Would it work? Financially, what would happen? Could every person actually take the day off of work, apart from the emergency services and doctors and nurses? Does that then become unfair? Am I thinking too much about this? I think so. See what happens when someone invents stupid 'National So And So Day...

By now you will have heard the Robin Thick and Pharrell William's single 'Blurred Lines.' It is so infectious that you cannot help but turn it up and sing, learning new lyrics every time you hear it. It is the second biggest selling single of this year so far. Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' is the biggest.

The tune of the summer 2013 is John Newman 'Love Me Again.' He is only 22 and is standing out thanks to his distinctive voice. You will know his sound from Rudimental's 'Feel The Love.'

There are so many superb songs this year. Naughty Boy's 'La La La' is standing out for all the right reasons. It is against a distinctive sound both through instrumental sound and voice. Every time you hear it you will either say, "Oh it's that Naughty Boy song' or if you do not know the artist, "Oh it's that song. I love this." Naughty Boy or real name Shahid Khan has taken the pop charts by storm with this. At only 28 years old he is also a producer and has worked on records with artists like Cheryl Cole. JLS, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson and Tinie Tempah. So no stranger to success.

Keep it kmfm for Kent's Biggest Hits and I'll talk to you on you way home on kmfm Drivetime, weekdays from 4pm.

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Cleaning up with fitness regime

by Tuned In, with kmfm Breakfast Show's Emma Saint Thursday, March 28 2013

So spring is officially here – not that you would know it yet from the weather, though I’m hoping we are in for a few more sunny days in the weeks to come! I have to get up very early in the morning for the Breakfast Show and it is so much easier to get out of bed when we are out of the dark days of winter. There really is no better feeling in the world than starting your day when the sun is rising and the birds are singing!

With summer just around the corner, you may have heard me on the Breakfast Show talking about my strict new diet regime and my new project to try to get into shape. We asked listeners for some tips on the best ways to get fit and their suggestions were hilarious!

One female listener said she does a unusual secret exercise when she’s driving her car - clenching her bum cheeks while sat at traffic lights. It apparently gives you the ultimate toned behind! I must admit I have started trying it - and will let you know if it has any impact!

Apparently cleaning is another great way to get into shape. Mopping floors works your shoulders and biceps and burns around 112 calories in 30 minutes, hoovering for 30 minutes works your arms and biceps and can burn up to 240 calories, while gardening for an hour works your arms, legs and core and you can burn a whopping 258 calories! And if you’re like me and crank the music up and dance while you’re doing it, then chances are you’ll probably be burning a lot more!

I’ve also started working with a personal trainer. You may remember that at Christmas my co-host Rob Wills was forced to get into shape after we set him the challenge of posing topless for a charity calendar! He needed more than a bit of help so we got him a personal trainer and after seeing the results, it’s made me take the plunge.

I’ve been training for two hours a week with Michael Tuohy who offers sessions all over Kent from the comfort of your own home or at LA Fitness in Maidstone. He is also a nutritionist so is advising on me on how I can change my diet to make sure I’m eating the right foods but still have a few naughty treats.

The great thing about having a personal trainer is it gives you the motivation you need to keep you going and when you start to see results it’s really satisfying I’ve had one hour session twice a week for three weeks now and I’m already noticing the difference.

My body fat has gone down and I’ve lost six pounds! Before I started the sessions Michael gave me a full health check and we began charting my weight and body fat so that we could set goals for me to achieve. I’m improving every session and I feel like I have a lot more energy. Why join if me in getting fit? Let me know how you get on.

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A dash to the sofa ends wait for new Pope

by Nikki's world, with Nikki White Tuesday, March 19 2013

For someone who isn’t a Roman Catholic, I spent a lot of time watching and waiting for the result of the vote on the new Pope.

Forget X Factor, this had me on the edge of my seat.

I had 24-hour rolling news on for hours, watching for signs of smoke from that chimney.

Annoyingly, I’d given up and gone for a bath when it finally came billowing out.

Determined not to be up to my eyes in suds when the name of Pope Benedict’s successor was announced, I quickly got dressed, dashed down the stairs and plonked myself on the sofa.

I then spent another 45 minutes sat watching a window, and thousands of other people watching the same window.

Finally, somebody came out and told us the new man in charge was Pope Francis – although I was five minutes ahead of Sky News, who didn’t appear to have anyone on their team who spoke Latin.

I’ve never studied the language either, but it wasn’t hard to guess that the word ‘Franciscus’ was probably the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s papal name in Latin.

When a big story is about to break, it’s understandable why news channels devote so much time to the waiting game – they want to be first.

And it gives Joe Bloggs an insight into how much waiting around journalists sometimes have to endure to get the story everyone is after.

It was the same when Raoul Moat went on the run. I seemed to watch a police officer stood at the end of a road for hours. Hardly anything happened at that police cordon but I tuned in, desperate to know what was going to happen next.

When Big Brother was first broadcast 24 hours a day, I was addicted. That was until one morning when I tuned in over breakfast, I realised I’d been sat for 20 minutes watching other people sleeping.

I clearly need help to find the Off switch on my remote.

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The day the music died...

by The Business Blog, with Trevor Sturgess Tuesday, January 15 2013

We are all guilty.

All of us who bought a CD or DVD from Amazon or the supermarket.

We have killed HMV, just as we killed Comet and Jessops.

There’s no point blaming Amazon or the others. It was up to us to choose where to spend our money, and we chose to spend it online. It became ever easier to do so, and, of course, cheaper.

We all looked for the cheapest deal, and that meant Amazon or Tesco.

HMV’s 92-year history, its emotional and nostalgic attachment to millions, its brilliance for browsing and serendipity, counted for nothing when price was all.

And of course it faced the new era of digital downloads, many totally free. Fewer people wanted to buy a whole physical album when they only wanted one or two standout tracks.

HMV’s sad collapse into administration has provoked an outpouring of emotion hardly ever matched by a retailer.

I don’t recall the same sympathy for Comet, Jessops, Zavvi, Woolworths and the lengthening  roll call of high street dodos.

So many remember queueing in HMV for the latest album, the excitement of hearing the Beatles or Stones for the first time.

Those queues returned before Christmas - but the festive rush was not enough to save HMV. All its industry support - desperate to retain a high street shop window for its product - was not enough to delay the inevitable.

I feel so sorry for the thousands of people, mainly young, who will lose their job. If 4,000 go at HMV, added to the 2,500 at Jessops and 6,000 at Comet, that some 12,000 gone at a stroke.

Where will those young people find work in an already difficult jobs market for the young? And for the next generation, there will be even fewer jobs around - except possibly in an Amazon warehouse. But that's hardly the same experience for those with product knowledge and who love feeling, hearing and seeing their music and films.

Millions of people who have not spent money in HMV for years - as well as the shrinking number who kept faith with Nipper - His Master's Voice - will be desperately hoping for white knight to buy the chain. But it is unlikely. A few stores may remain. We need a high street presence for a CD and DVD retailer.

But January 15 looks very much like the bleak day the music died.

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The end is nigh...probably

by The Kent film blog, by Lewis Dyson Tuesday, December 18 2012

Three trailers were shown for the first time this week for post-apocalyptic sci-fi films. Ironically all of them are being released after the world is supposed to end on Friday.

Pacific Rim, After Earth, and Oblivion are all out next year and it seems as if destroying most of the world's population will be the in theme for filmmakers in 2013. 

Of the three, Pacific Rim, easily looks like it will be the best. Directed by the Hobbit-spurning Guillermo Del Toro, the film is set in a future where a portal between dimensions has appeared in the middle of The Pacific Ocean, through which sky-scraper sized monsters emerge to destroy the planet. Humanity fights back by creating huge robots piloted by pairs of soldiers. I was sold on the concept alone but the trailer makes it look like Transformers meets Godzilla - but actually good. 

Oblivion stars Tom Cruise as some kind of engineer who returns to Earth after it has been destroyed in a war with aliens. It could go either way but certainly seems worth a watch when it comes out next year.

M Night Shyamalan's efforts have been on a downward trajectory in terms of quality since Unbreakable, which is why his latest, After Earth, should probably be approached with caution. Then again it stars Will Smith and his son Jaden as on-screen father and son exploring a desolate earth so maybe their charisma alone will make up for it.

The trend is reminiscent of the handful of scorched-earth, Armageddon sci-fis that came out a few years ago around the same time - The Road, The Book of Eli and Terminator Salvation to name a few. Perhaps those films reflected the bleak mood of the time; if so, then it seems we are still slightly obsessed with the end of the world.

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Christmas is coming... but Kent's divided

by Tuned In, with kmfm DJ Andy Walker Friday, November 23 2012

Is November too early to be playing Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You - or even Fairytale In New York come to that?

That is what I was asking on kmfm Drivetime last week. I know there are five weeks to go until Christmas but Coke’s ‘Holidays are coming’ TV advert aired during the X Factor two weeks ago and to me that means Christmas has started. The lovable John Lewis snowman advert is capturing our attention too, so Mariah’s top festive tune is acceptable, right?

Kent was divided with their answers so I held off from playing it – for now.

But whatever happens, the festivities are just around the corner and I’m looking forward to them with the same excitement as the children have in the Coca-Cola ad when they see the lorry approaching. But why has no one ever questioned what a 50 tonne lorry is doing driving through a village?

The biggest A list celebrities to grace us with their presence recently have been Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. The Hollywood stars have been living in Ickham, near Canterbury, whilst Brad finished his forthcoming zombie movie World War Z. With this in mind I was asking on kmfm Drivetime, “Have you ever physically touched a celebrity?” For example, has someone on TV brushed past you? Has a star shaken your hand?

Nick called me to say he stood next to Des Lynam at the urinals at a Kent golf club. He was claiming air was the physical contact so I could not ‘grade’ his effort. However, Ceri from the coast called to say she once received a kiss on both cheeks from actor Ray Winstone. He’s a big name so I graded that a seven out of 10. Then followed a succession of celebrity stories; Sarah Hodgkinson revealed that Jonathan Ross was behind her as she exited a plane and he breathed on her hair. He’s a TV household name– that was also a seven out of 10.

Lynnette Hanson measured the inside of Wet Wet Wet’s Marti Pelow’s leg. That’s impressive and received eight out of 10. Denise Bottali posted on Facebook to say she once drove her trolley into Joanna Lumley’s heel at Safeway in Canterbury. Not only was there physical contact, but Denise nearly injured a celebrity – and that is a totally new topic!

Stay listening to kmfm as you can win Kent’s Biggest Hits throughout December. Not only are we playing you the biggest hits, we are now giving you the chance to win them too. Plus, we have the biggest artists taking over kmfm over Christmas. JLS and The Wanted are just two of the bands you can hear soon. Speak to you on the way home!

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My interview with General Fiasco

by Kent music reviews and teenage views, with Nick Tompkins Friday, November 9 2012

I had the privilege of speaking to one of my favourite of all current bands, General Fiasco. After their refreshingly different Pop-Indie debut, General Fiasco are currently on the road with Little Comets. I was able to ask them a few questions from the big issue of the latest release and their future plans, to the simplest of matters such as brotherly bickering.  Here it is:

The latest album ‘Unfaithfully Yours’ seems to lead perfectly on from your debut. Was it an intentional decision not to differ radically from the first album in terms of style? If so, why?

We didn't want to steer too far away from the sound of the first record but it was important that we made a progression. It’s always been about the song for us but we definitely pushed ourselves on this record- some of the drum and guitar parts are the most technical we have done.

Your 2011 single ‘This Is the Age You Start Losing Friends’ was the first single to be released from ‘Unfaithfully Yours’. What is the song about? Was it written from personal experience?

It’s about getting to an age where everyone grows up and moves apart. It’s just about realising that everyone has things that take priority and relationships weaken because of that.

You’re currently touring the UK with Little Comets: how do you feel the tour has gone for you? Do you feel that a tour gets better towards the end as you familiarise yourselves with your set or does exhaustion and homesickness begin to set in towards the end?

It's brilliant, one of my favourite tours we have done, they are a great band and a great bunch of lads, you occasionally burn yourself out but it’s usually from drinking too much, we don't really get homesick.

What musical influences does each of you bring to the band? Do your tastes vary as a group or are they similar?

Yeah they vary, between everyone and also day-to-day, we have bands that we all like but they aren't necessarily influential to our sound.

You’ve toured with the likes of The Enemy, The Wombats, Jet and are currently touring with Little Comets. Who is the most fun band you’ve ever toured with? And could you pinpoint a tour that benefited you the most?

Kids In Glass Houses was a great tour for us. I think musically we connected most with their fans but we have had so many great tours. Little Comets and Fighting With Wire where/are both really great fun.

What is your favourite song to play on stage?

Bad Habits at the minute, it’s really got a good swing to it and we only just learned how to play it so its kinda new to us which also makes it fun.

How did General Fiasco form?

Well really we just all played instruments and had similar tastes and had the same goals- it happened naturally. Stu joined recently, we knew him from playing in other bands and he seemed like a good lad so we got him in.

Question for Enda and Owen: is there any sibling rivalry going on? Do you ever have brotherly fall-outs?

No never.

What is the best and worst part about being in a band?

What is the best is people appreciating what you do, coming to gigs and singing along. The worst is playing to people who don't care about your music, which can happen from time to time, especially if you are playing an odd support slot.

What have you got planned after the tour with Little Comets? Any plans to take the tour elsewhere or is there a well-deserved vacation in store?

Probably tour in the new year- headlining I guess, but other than that I'm not sure what the future holds.

How were General Fiasco ‘discovered’? Did you feel like it was a long time coming or did it come as a surprise when you were signed to Infectious Records?

We worked pretty hard for it! We got noticed by a few people in the music industry and it kind of snow-balled from there. We eventually signed to infectious a year after that and after a few tours.

Do you think there is a difference between Irish and English crowds?

Not really, we don't care where we play as long as people are into it, Scottish and Irish shows are a bit more full on but we have had some crazy gigs in England, its more about the people there.

How do you guys write your songs? Do you write as a group or individually first?

Both: first record was more myself writing songs and bringing them to the band and the second was more collective but it usually comes from someone bringing an idea into the room and everyone thrashing it out.

Do you have any ideas about in which direction to take the third album if and when it comes along?

Psychedelic Space Drum and Bass Funk Fusion. It'll be along soon.

 

Wow. All I can say is bring on album number three!

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