Living with ADHD and Working in Radio with Andrew Peacock.
We delve into the world of ADHD with the founder of Positive Media Company, Andy
- Andrew Peacock
Tom: Welcome to the Make Things Better podcast. Today I'm joined by Andrew Peacock, founder of Positive Media Company.
Welcome on the show, Andrew. How are you doing today?
Andrew: I'm alright. Lovely to be here.
Tom: Yeah. Thanks for coming on. So today we're going to talk a little bit about your experience in radio, setting up Positive Media Company, and a few other things as well. So do you want to start off by telling us sort of what you've been up to over the last 30 or 40 years and how you've set up Positive Media Company?
Andrew: Yeah, I'm 51 years of age. So for about 34 years, I think, or thereabouts, I was involved in the broadcast industry, so mostly radio, up and down the UK, I started my career here in Manchester on the local radio station, which in the day was called Piccadilly Radio or Piccadilly Key 103.
After about nine years there, I went down to London. So I worked at places like Radio 1, the BBC, all kinds of projects down there, worked on the big top 40 chart shows at the weekend, which was really cool. Then worked as a radio presenter up and down the UK, even created a radio station of my own called Cheesy FM, which is still on in the UK at the moment. And then eventually after the pandemic, created Positive Media Company
Tom: Yeah. Amazing. How did you get into radio?
Andy: Back in the day, wrote to my favourite radio presenter, he was a bit wacky on the radio, on Quay 103 in the evenings, said if you need any helpers, get me in. A few days later, got the phone call, went in, and the rest is history. A long career followed that. So yeah, one of those things that you would hope would happen, generally will never happen. I was very, very lucky.
Tom: Yeah. And how was your career in radio over that 30 or so years?
Andy: You know, it was never a proper job, you know, playing records, talking into a microphone, doing fun stuff, going to big concerts, going to road shows, you know, whatever it might be. Brilliant.
And meeting pop stars as well, which is not as great as it would seem. But you know, all of that, you know, it beats working, you know, in an office, which I've done as well, beats any of those sort of jobs. So I had a great career. I can't knock it in any way.
Tom: Yeah, sounds brilliant. Who was the most famous person you ever met?
Andy: I met George Michael a few times.
Andy: Really shy, absolutely hated having his photograph taken or being on any kind of camera, but a really, really nice guy.
Tom: Yeah. Brilliant. And then how did that, all of that experience, like lead you into creating Positive Media Company? And do you want to tell us a bit about Positive Media Company as well?
Andy: Yeah, Positive Media Company is something that I set up just after the pandemic. And the reason being, the radio industry across the UK, I think they saw it as a real good opportunity to downsize. So lots and lots of local radio stations, which is generally where I was working, were all bought up by the likes of Hearts or Hits Radio or Capital.
So those big, major brands bought up all the radio stations. So like I say, the pandemic was probably a really good time for them to put that business plan in play, but people like me lost out. So Positive Media Company came along. And what we tend to do is podcasts and YouTube videos, radio stations, that kind of thing, broadcast stuff, but not for people who have had a career in it, for those who would love a career in it, or for those who just want to learn how to do it, or give it a try.
Those perhaps who have got learning difficulties, or perhaps people who would just never, ever, in any normal circumstance, get the opportunity to do a podcast or be on the radio. So that's kind of what we're here for, and for all ages as well.
Tom: Yeah. Do you want to tell us about an example?
Andy: I'll talk about Jordan. He'll like me talking about him. He is about 30 years of age, a few learning difficulties and disabilities, but he loves radio and he loves doing a little podcast that we created for him. It's called Follow the Dream, and he is following his little broadcast dream.
But we did build into his little project a little hook to keep people listening. And that is to ultimately one day interview Amanda Halden, who is his ultimate radio star at the moment. So, yeah, he loves that. Every 10 minutes or so, I will get a message from him telling me what he's up to and how he's preparing for his next podcast. He just loves it. He really is following his dream. It's really good to see.
Tom: Yeah. And I love how you've helped to create that opportunity for him, that's amazing.
Andy: Absolutely, I've known him for quite a while, we did work together in community radio, so I knew that he always wanted to be involved but I could never put him on air at this other radio station, but with podcasts what they are, anybody can be a podcast star, so yeah it's the perfect platform for him.
Tom: Yeah brilliant, and we were talking a little bit earlier about you discovering that you had ADHD during the pandemic.
Andy: Yes, so it was during the pandemic at home, a lot of YouTube was being watched and I just remembered someone that was working for me had mentioned that they were ADHD, now me being 51 I was thinking that's hyperactive kid running around. I didn't realise that ADHD has been better diagnosed and there's far more information on what it is. I watched it because I thought I should probably just see what it is so that when this guy does speak to me again, if ever he mentions his ADHD I will know what I'm talking about. I'd always been aware that perhaps there was something not quite right with my own brain at this point, so I should probably mention that bit, and I'd always been looking for things that might have been me, what was going wrong with my brain, so I looked at all of these videos and just nothing ever really matched, you know, there were elements of things, you know, if you go on Google you'll always find an ailment that matches you in some way or another, but none of these things connected, so autism just didn't fit, it just wasn't right.
So I thought I'll watch this video anyway just to see what this lad's putting up with in life, and within five minutes you could have knocked me over with a feather because I'd worked out that ADHD was what I was living with all those years, through my radio career, through everything, through relationships, you name it, ADHD was a part of my life, so yes, it's probably played quite a big part in my life over the years.
Tom: How did it feel to sort of really resonate with that video and kind of discover that, oh that's kind of why my brain's worked in this way that's a little bit different to other people?
Andy: Yeah, honestly it was the biggest relief ever, because all the questions were answered. This one video, and it was this lady doing a TED Talk, she's an ADHD ambassador, she has ADHD herself, she just, everything that she said, I was ticking it off one by one, and there was nothing that she was saying that I wasn't aware of, so it was just like, my god, that's it, and I completely stumbled on it. You know, why I decided to watch it that day, I don't know, I know it had come up on my YouTube feed before, and I scooched past it, I thought, not today, but whatever happened that day, I watched it and I was like, wow, that's the answer to why I've been like I've been all of my life.
Tom: And did you just stumble upon that video, like you weren't searching out an explanation, it came about because you had a friend who had told you that he was ADHD, right?
Andy: I think I had been looking at things like autism and things like that, you know, you name it, you go through Google and find medical situations that, you know, I was looking at some of them, but it was not, you know, I wasn't totally preoccupied with it, it's just something that I would occasionally do, but for whatever reason this video popped up on my YouTube feed and watched it there and then, and it was the answer to everything, it was really bizarre.
Tom: Has your life changed in any way since you watched that video?
Andy: I've taken the pressure off myself, because what I now know is that the anxiety with ADHD that comes along with it just makes you overthink everything, and I'm not on medication yet, but I now know it's not me, it's not my fault, it's nothing I'm doing, it's just the way my brain works, so I've taken the pressure off myself in that respect, because I now know what the answer is. All those years I was looking and I just never quite put my finger on it, but now the pressure is really off, there's no pressure now, now I know what's going on.
Tom: So did it help you understand yourself a little bit better and build a healthier relationship with yourself in a way?
Andy: Yes, also there was a lot of looking backwards, failed relationships, ADHD was a big part of that I imagine. Career-wise, because ADHD would affect my moods, I would always place myself in a comfort zone. So, I was never amazing and I was never really poor, I was always in that comfort zone, I was always the safe pair of hands guy in radio stations, you know, Andy can do that, he's a safe pair of hands. So, I guess it restricted me in the past, so I've definitely learned that. So, going forward, who knows?
Tom: Yeah, it sounds like you had a really amazing career and you managed to do that whilst dealing with undiagnosed ADHD, so that's...
Andy: I think a lot of people with ADHD are creatives and I think the industry is full of people with whatever, whether it's autism, whether it's ADHD, whether it's any number of others, I think that just is part of the territory of broadcasting.
Tom: Yeah. So, do you think it can be a benefit in any way?
Andy: I think it has been for many. You, I guess, work harder. For me, working hard just to achieve the safe pair of hands was enough, because it is exhausting. Anybody with ADHD will tell you, life appears to be far more exhausting than it is for other people. Other people just seem to get on with life, whereas for us, we're overthinking everything. It's exhausting.
Tom: Yeah. When you talk about overthinking everything, does that create some anxiety as well?
Andy: Yes, because you're constantly thinking and you know what it's like, you think of something and then you go around in circles, then you'll go around in another circle and then you'll add another element into it, which makes things even worse and it can be a spiral. So, I guess that, in many cases, would lead to depression for some people. So yeah.
Tom: Did it ever affect you when you were working in radio in terms of your job?
Andy: That's the thing. Because I was always trying extra hard, 99.9 times out of 10, it was all right. 99.9 out of 100, that's what I meant. Things like that. I would say things like that on the radio and it would scare the crap out of me, because I'd got it wrong. I'd be like, oh my God, there's 300,000 people listening. So there's that. So that's why I would try extra, extra hard to get things right. So that was taking away from trying to be creative and delivering something extra special. I was Mr. Safe Pair of Hands, if that makes sense.
Tom: Can you explain a little bit more?
Andy: So where I've just made that mistake now on this podcast, I would try so, so hard never to do that in real life on the radio, let's say, or in interviews. Because you're focusing so much on that, trying to deliver the basic bit without making mistakes, you stay in a very safe track and you stay on that track. If you then deviate from it ever so slightly, my brain would be like, what are you doing?
Where are you going?
Why are you doing that?
And then it would be like, oh my God, he's gone down this other tangent. He's got no idea where he's going to go. How is he going to get out of this? And that's where the anxiety would really creep in.
Tom: Yeah. So do you feel like it limited you in a sense in terms of your creative potential?
Andy: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And of course, it's your job at the same time. So yes, it's an amazing job that I did, but it is my job that paid the rents and the mortgages. So there's that pressure there. So you've got to keep your job, that kind of thing. So yeah, lots of anxiety, lots of pressures.
Andy: It all builds up.
Tom: Absolutely. I can really relate to what you were saying there about finding that balance of safety and creativity. Now it's in a totally different sort of world and it's not my job, but when I play football, often I can struggle with anxiety quite a lot because there's the fear of getting shouted at by a teammate.
It can literally be that simple. You've got the whole fear of making a mistake and then people thinking you're not very good, you're not part of something, feeling rejected. And so when I'm playing football, quite often I will go for like the easy pass. I can see the 50-yard pass. I want to make it. I want to play the Beckham.
Andy: It's the exact same thing.
Tom: Yeah. And it is really difficult and you just get so much anxiety from it and it's frustrating. You're overthinking it.
Andy: Any other person, they just crack on with it, whereas you're thinking of every possible outcome, which is kind of what I do. Every possible outcome I try and think of just to avoid any pitfall. And it's always, well, I'll take that easy route because I know exactly where I'm going with that route. It's like that football, the straightforward pass. You know exactly where that ball's going to go. It's the same thing.
Tom: Yeah, it's like you're so focused on not making a mistake that you almost forget to do the very best that you can and you just don't have that freedom to like fully be open and just like express whatever you want.
Andy: I think you've just expressed it better than I did.
Tom: I don't know about that. So if somebody's listening to this or watching this and they feel like they may have undiagnosed ADHD, would you have any sort of advice based on your experience?
Andy: Well, I probably wouldn't do what I did, which was a deep dive on Google because we were in a pandemic, weren't we? So I probably wouldn't advise that. I would say if there is anything, just the slightest thing, speak to a professional. You've got to do it that way. Life is too short. Don't let it go around and around and around in your head. If you think there is something, you're probably right. So you just probably need to go and investigate that and dig a bit deeper to find out what's going on.
Tom: Yeah, absolutely. Okay. So wrapping up the podcast, what would you say people can do to make things better? And you can interpret this however you like.
Andy: Do you know what? I think they already are. So many people are doing podcasts. So from the very beginners, right the way through to the multi-million pound corporations, there are podcasts everywhere. We learn so much through podcasts. We are entertained through podcasts. You name it, we can find it in podcasts nowadays. And I think that's made everything better. There was a time where the internet was coming in a little bit of a dark place. It still is, but I think we can now learn things through podcasts and there are billions of them out there now. If you want to find a subject that you're interested in, you will find it.
Tom: Yeah. I think it can really help people feel less alone as well because you can hear somebody talking about a really, really niche, like specific topic which you struggle with and you may feel like you're alone in feeling a certain way, but then just hearing somebody else's experience and realizing, oh, actually there's literally thousands of other people who have kind of gone through the same feelings.
Andy: I know it used to be broadcast to the masses, podcasts. It's nice if you broadcast to the masses because you can make some money out of it, but if you're broadcasting to two or three people and it resonates with them 100%, for me, you've done your job.
Tom: Yeah, I love that. All right, where can people find you and Positive Media Company?
Andy: Positivemedia.org.uk Have a little mooch around our website. Get in touch if you want to do a podcast.
Tom: Brilliant. All right. Well, hopefully we'll have more guests in here as well because I absolutely love this studio.
Andy: Absolutely. Fantastic. Bring it on.
Tom: All right. Thanks a lot for watching or listening. I hope you have enjoyed today's podcast and I hope you have an amazing rest of your day.
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