As a man once said, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Because it is!

blog, Books, newsletter, Podcast, poetry, radio

Before we get right into it, I just wanted to pop in your inbox to wish you all a very merry one, to thank you for all your support this year and to give you a little round up of everything that happened in 2022. If that all sounds dead boring then just skip to the last paragraph and I’ll see you next year!

It was another big year on the radio and I spent a rather large chunk of 2022 on the airwaves of Phoenix FM. June marked a whole year behind the wheel of my daily drivetime show and although the jubilee celebrations were the main event at the time, I like to think that I might have soundtracked at least one of the street parties in celebration! This year I’ve loved hosting some incredible live acoustic sessions from local musicians on my shows which you can hear again as part of a special on Phoenix FM. (Click here) I took part in Phoenix FM’s first ever live radio drama, a murder mystery written just for us to perform which was so much fun and even rocked the house down with a few extra rock shows too! There have been lots of laughs, loads of photos and even a few features in the news from articles in the Brentwood Gazette and the Romford Recorder to a double page spread in the Billericay Community Magazine plus a spot on Kazakhstan’s Khabar24 TV news channel! 

It’s been a pretty big one for podcasts too. As you know, all the interviews I do on my radio show are featured on my “Now You’re Talking Podcast” which, according to Spotify, had 83% more listeners this year and for 11 people, it was their favourite podcast! We topped 200 episodes this year and to celebrate I’ll be producing a few “best bits” episodes over the coming weeks featuring some of the most memorable, educational and inspirational bits from these interviews. If you haven’t listened for a while then do go and check it out, there’s some real gems of wisdom and some good laughs too from all sorts of incredible people including a few familiar voices like Francis Ross (Status Quo), Gary Kemp (Spandau Ballet), Geoff Downes (YES), Andy McCluskey (OMD), Frank Turner, The Sherlocks, Alice Merton and loads more.

Meanwhile, my movie mate, film friend and cinematic chum, Mark Searby and I surpassed a whopping 600 film reviews together on our Film Reviews & Movie News Podcast! According to Spotify we’ve got a growing listener base in France and Argentina plus 60 people had us in their top 10 favourite podcasts! You can catch up on all our film reviews here with a new episode every week plus you’ll even find us featured on IMDB too under the “critic reviews” section. We’ve just finished fighting over our top films of 2022 which would be a great place to start if you’ve not heard it before.

I’ve also made my debut as an MC. When people say they MC live events, you might imagine corporate black-tie evenings where company execs dish out employee of the month awards in a swanky hotel. Not for me! I have absolutely loved the pop-up variety of 2022 and although there were no swanky hotels, instead I’ve had the honour of MCing/presenting/hosting all manor of live events in all sorts of places. Ranging from a night of music live-streamed from a shed in Brentwood to the main stage (a lorry) in Billericay high street for this year’s Christmas market. In the summer, we closed one of the busiest roads for the whole bank holiday weekend where I got to MC the ramp at the soap box derby and I’ve had a blast getting to know Romford’s Mercury Mall taking part in some awesome events from a dog show and a rock jam to the glamour of Romford Film Festival. I’ve ventured into stadium announcements for Brentwood Town this year and have loved getting to host charity raffle draws and kids’ penalty shootouts on the pitch as well as a few determined attempts at conducting a Mexican wave as part of the halftime entertainment. (Maybe next year!) 

This year inspired a whole load of silly poems which in-turn culminated in another two poetry books. In March I released an anniversary edition of Pandemic Poetry riddled with every Covid-themed witty ditty I’ve ever written. Then, in September, I made the headlines with a brand new release “Also In The News” featuring a bunch of rhymes based on unbelievable true stories. It followed boldly in the footsteps of my first release and took the Amazon Kindle charts by storm, peaking at NUMBER ONE in Amazon Kindle’s hottest worldwide poetry chart – not bad for just some bloke publishing from home! 

This year also saw the official birth of Mungalo Fish, my own independent, digital publisher which will of course be releasing my next poetry book coming in 2023! As well as releasing my own books, I’m looking to put what I’ve learned so far to good use with Mungalo Fish in supporting more writers to achieve similar success in publishing ebooks next year. 

Which reminds me… about this time last year I was writing to you about my first ever Christmas song! Well, I’m both delighted and dismayed to have received several enquiries about a follow up release over the last few weeks. So, back by popular demand, Witty Ditty Records shamelessly presents, for your musical endurement another Christmas song from yours truly! “A Christmas Sea Shanty” was inspired by this year’s family holiday to Cornwall and is my dreadful ode to the shanty bands of old and new. It was surprisingly hard work to sing every part of a one-man shanty band but don’t let the time and effort fool you into expecting anything other than 2 and a half minutes of pure silliness! I haven’t formerly “released” it but you’ll be able to hear the song on Phoenix FM every day over the festive period on a variety of shows. Yesterday, it ranked SECOND in this year’s Drivetime Christmas Chart, beating Cliff Richard! What a way to end the year! 

So, before I go and get on with wrapping gifts, eating sausage rolls and writing my letter to Santa, a quick reminder that if you’re stuck for a friendly voice or some music over the festive break then you’ll find me on Phoenix FM Christmas Day sharing a Christmas poem on the Arts Programme at 4pm and back again with The As Yet Untitled Christmas Rock Show at 8pm plus there’ll be some best of 2022 shows on 28th, 29th & 30th December.

I hope this Christmas is a happy one for you and yours and that 2023 brings you everything you’re hoping for. My thanks to you all for your support this year with all of the aforementioned creative endeavours. Whether you’ve tuned in on the radio, listened to a podcast, read a poem, bought a book, came to an event or even just shared a post on social media – thank you. Whatever next year brings, I’ve enjoyed this one and hope to always be on hand to make you smile in one way or another!

Merry Christmas

Stew 

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