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"What’s in a name?"

When I was younger, I always wanted to be a radio presenter. I used to rock out to “Radio James” in my bedroom. I had 2 turntables (which I wired up for remote start), mic, mixing desk, and some jingles recorded off Capital Radio. Actually I probably shouldn’t admit to recording jingles off the air… I think I’ll risk it this once.

For one reason or another, I essentially gave up radio and the media when I graduated – I decided to go out and get a real job instead. After all, why would I want to spend all day entertaining people and listening to great music when I could be sitting at a desk staring at a screen… Anyway, I digress.

So assuming I had pursued my dream, the one thing I didn’t ever settle on was a radio name. On IC radio I was “Jaymz Pace”. The “Jaymz” actually came from my season with PGL – we all had our names on our T-shirts, and everyone found crazy and alternative spellings (like “K8 the trekker”). Hey – it was cool at the time (or, at least, we all thought it was). By the time I did student radio the “Jaymz” was largely ironic, as I recognised its naffness. “Pace” just came out of thin air, as something that sounded good with “James”. I even had a “Jaymz Pace” phonecard, in the days when these things still existed.

But what’s wrong with “James Handley” though? I don’t know – it just doesn’t fly somehow. When I think of the Capital Radio DJs of the era, they nearly all had snappy names – “Pat Sharp”, “Mick Brown”, “Neil Fox”. I don’t believe any of these are their real names. There were some less snappy ones “David Jensen”, “Paul McKenna”, “Richard Allison.”

It’s a similar story for singers, actors, and to some extent authors. Very few (I believe) operate under their real names. Is everyone with a public face essentially unhappy with their own name? I’m aware that Equity has rules about this, but I think it does deeper…

It may have its roots in call-signs, from ham radio days. And of course the advent of networked computing rapidly brought screen names, and avatars. My online presence is principally “eutony” (eutony.net, eutony on Twitter and photobox). Not entirely by design, but it grew out when I decided to purchase a domain so I wouldn’t have to keep changing e-mail address. I probably would choose something different next time, but it’s too hassley to change now.

Humourously enough, I actually now know someone called James Pace. And no, he doesn’t work in radio.

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