Can a person who stammers present a radio or TV programme? It is a topic that was hotly debated at the recent BSA conference 2002. Mark Lawrence is a BSA member and radio presenter living in Stuttgart, Germany. He says the answer is YES!
Ever heard of a stammering DJ? No! Well neither had I. Which is why I never felt it possible to broadcast on the radio. That was until I moved to Stuttgart, Germany, where I contacted the local self help group for people who stammer. I've always been a big fan of radio, so I was delighted to discover that a small local radio station, Radio Free Stuttgart, gave the self help group two hours every four months to conduct interviews, read the news and reports, and play music. I was very enthusiastic, and allowed myself to be interviewed for a broadcast. That was a year ago, and I've never looked back.
Shortly afterwards I took part in an introductory course to operate the mixing desk. Radio Free Stuttgart has a weekend nightshift from 1am - 7am for which members of the radio station can sign up, leaving you to broadcast through the night. I decided to take the plunge and do my own show. Stottern auf Englisch (Stuttering in English) was born.
After a very nervous couple of starts, and no feedback from potential listeners, I could easily have been tempted to throw in the towel. But I was convinced sooner or later that someone would tune in at this very late hour. My persistence paid off recently, from listeners giving me the thumbs up. The local 'what's on' magazine LIFT also printed an article. I play indie music, read out dedications and also promote the Stuttgart self help group. Future plans include broadcasting recorded interviews, with one in the pipeline. If there are any budding music journalists in the UK who want to interview indie bands in Britain and send me the results, I'll be more than happy to work with them.
The idea is to bring the music to the fore, to show that radio DJ'ing isn't beyond someone who stammers, to enjoy myself and hopefully bring a little enjoyment to others.
From the Winter 2002 edition of Speaking Out