Ed Doolan- The Peoples Champion

I really do not know where to start. Just around lunch time yesterday, I heard the bad news that BBC Radio WM broadcaster Ed Doolan had passed away.

I was just about to go into the Wolverhampton City Planning Committee and speak to an objection against planning permission for a property in my Ward.

BBC Broadcaster Ed Doolan has been a star turn for decades here in the West Midlands, he was the peoples champion! The public love his earthy style, the way he attacked politicians and corporate heads! They loved his ‘shock jock’ style of broadcasts. He was ALWAYS on the side of the listener, and they loved him for it.

I have known Ed since 1981, he gave me almost a weekly tussle for decades. I was first interviewed by Ed at BRMB. It was about the West Midlands County Councils bus fares policy. I had no idea then that this tough Ozzie would have so much influence on my political and later my business life.

Former County Councillor Brian Smith coached me for two days before the very first interview I undertook with Ed. I was fearful of Ed before I even met him! But that was the reputation that this antipodean was building here in Brum.

It’s true that in those early years I hated that telephone call from the BBC team, Sue Kelly, Conal O Donnell, Howard and others. The phone would ring- polite BBC voice at the other end “Ed would like you to come and answer some questions”!

Then we would be off, asking me questions on the hottest day of the year , about the coming Christmas Day and Boxing Day bus schedules! He was exasperating, he raised my blood pressure, before I had blood pressure problems!

But as the years turned into decades I started to like the sword fights, the bickering and the pure theatre he produced for his listeners. Ed was an innovator, as well as just being a broadcaster. I hated that darned diary gizmo he had with all the names and numbers in it and his notes!

I took part in his show from some far flung places, as I tried to convince Birmingham and the West Midlands of the importance of Light Rail Transit for the conurbation.

We had memorable broadcasts from Newcastle as we evidenced what the Tyne and Wear Metro had done for that City. We broadcast from Grenoble, where on the flight out the airline lost his case, he even had to wear a shirt of mine!

I have dozens of good stories; they were exciting times for me, and for what we were trying to do for this great conurbation. He was giving me a bashing again on his show, when I said it was easy to ‘spout’ on the radio. We clashed not for the first time, and I said again “I could do your job, “ Ed said to me “ You could, could you?”

Tony Inchley the legendary BBC Radio Boss, liked the challenge I made. Before you could say ‘Midland Metro’ it was all agreed and I took over his role in his hot seat for the day.

Mary and I became friends with Chrissy and Ed as the years rolled on.

It was sad when we were informed of that damned dementia. But we all stayed close and just before Christmas, Lord Peter Snape, Lynda Waltho and Mary and ,I celebrated with Chrissy and Ed with his dear sister at Ed’s home. Where we chatted and reminisced about the old times. Ed was a star man here in the West Midlands, he was a champion of Local Radio, he loved Birmingham, and he loved giving a voice to the underdog.

I will miss Ed Doolan, but I will also cherish the fond memories I have of a man with passion for the radio, and his Gilbert and Sullivan! Ed is a Legend, and I am pleased to have called him my friend. Rest In Peace! You will live for ever in the hearts and minds of your listeners, and  those magnificent archives you kept of all your shows will be gold dust for historians way into the future.

Phil Bateman

Phil Bateman is Married to Mary and lives in Wednesfield North. He was a long serving local politician having served previously on the now defunct West Midlands County Council... read more