|Speaking Out articles
by Andrew Harding
Hyde teenager Gareth Cottrell, 18, recently began a weekly show at a local radio station, two years after wondering how he could do it with a stammer.
Gareth's radio dream came to him when seeing two of Manchester's Key 103 FM presenters in action. "I thought 'wow, I wish I had that'." However, there was the problem of his stammer.
"Two years ago I was an unconfident school-kid who never spoke or asked questions in school, now I talk and entertain people on air, a giant leap and it's unbelievable," he said. Gareth now presents a late-night show on Source 1251am, the university station where he hopes his radio production course will lead on to BBC Radio 1.
"It's my final aim," he says. "And there was a student from this course who went to Radio 1."
Radio is a very competitive industry. Luckily for Gareth, he was able to reduce his stammer and gain confidence through speech lessons with a drama teacher, Melanie Ashton. "I did acting, breathing exercises, learned to speak more clearly, and interviewed other students," he said. "Helping at the local theatre company was a real confidence booster, which Melanie organised."
Then he recorded a demo tape at a lesson and sent it to an Oldham radio station. "They offered me a producers job on a Saturday sports show, where I selected music, took phone calls, and gave studio tours. After six months I had to leave to start the radio production course."
The course involves three years training in radio production, presenting programmes, and producing adverts and jingles. That's the technical side. It is also an opportunity to get industry contacts, experience, and develop your own personal style which is a mark of any successful presenter.
"At first I just introduced the songs, but soon realised people wanted something else, so we made it more entertaining". As for stammering, Gareth knows that even top radio presenters' speech is not completely fluent. "I do have a few pauses in my speech, and I put in a lot of "er's", but so do the pro's."
"If you stammer, there is hope out there for you. Don't say you can't do something because you will find out that you can. Get the help you need, then fulfil your dream. My parents have been a huge help and they have supported me throughout everything. If I can then be an inspiration to just two people, then great."
Gareth presents The Space Show on Sunday nights from 12-2am, on Source 1251am, which can be heard throughout Greater Manchester and surrounding areas.
From the Spring 2003 edition of Speaking Out
See also: Going live...now - 2006 article about Gareth
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