Team TMN sit down with Dave Cleary, Host of his own show, Loud and Cleary on 97.8 Dance FM, who talks about how he started out in the broadcasting industry in the Middle East and what he thinks of it now…
Name: Dave Cleary
Age: I forgot, need to check my passport
From: United Kingdom
Current job title: Host of Loud and Cleary on 97.8 Dance FM
When did you first arrive in Dubai?
Where did you work prior?
I started out in the region as a part of 104.8 Channel 4 FM when it launched in 1997, and other roles that followed includes Emirates Radio, Nile FM, Radio 1 and Radio 2.
What were your first impressions of the broadcasting industry in the Middle East?
It seemed in a bit of a time warp, I was part of 104.8 Channel 4FM’s launch in 1997, Dubai was in need of a new station. At the time the only other station was Dubai FM. I remember going back to the UK and people had not really heard that much about Dubai – how things have changed, as now everyone knows Dubai. It’s a big global player now.
Has your opinion changed much?
Very much so, I think radio here has really developed and can now rival any major city such as Sydney or Vancouver.
Tell us about your current role…
I present Loud And Cleary weekdays from 4pm until 8pm on the only dance station in the region, Dance FM
What challenges do you face?
Trying to do a good radio show!
What do you think of the quality of radio stations in the region?
I think there are many good stations and presenters on air now in this country. Radio here has really developed to a standard I consider to be as good as markets in Australia and Canada. When I first arrived it was just British nationals on air – it’s great to hear so many different accents these days.
With the increasing demand of visual content, how has radio managed to stay relevant today?
Radio will always be around, it’s the ‘now’ element, and the ‘friend’ element of it. Radio has had to evolve and has to be more visual such as being able to see live in the studio and being very active on digital platforms and so on. May radio live long and prosper!
Has culture in the Middle East posed a challenge or an advantage in the advancement of radio in the region?
When I first came to Dubai I was a bit shocked at what you can and can’t say or do, but now I really feel things have opened up. Its great to do a radio show knowing that you respect peoples cultures and I think in the end it makes you a better radio presenter.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s happened a few times, I have been out and someone has come up to me and said, “I grew up listening to you thanks for being part of my life”. When you hear that you understand that sometimes you have an impact on people.
How would you rather be contacted at work?
Describe yourself in five words…
Hardworking, ambitious, a team worker, creative and none of the above.
What inspires you?
What’s your most overused saying?
It’s going to be ok, and life is too short.
Five things you can’t live without?
Social Media, my passport, radio, air conditioning and traveling.
What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?
I think when I won Best Radio DJ in 2014 and 2016 at the Ahlan! People’s Choice Awards – I never expected it at all.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
Traveling the world until I ran out of money.
What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?
How do you see radio changing in the Middle East in the coming years?
The digital age is here for sure – listeners like instant access to the host or presenter, but I think the digital and FM platforms can compliment each other. And as for presenters, you need to offer more than just a cool voice with “that was and this is…”.