“I’m not just going to sit at home looking through the window and watching television all the time. I’ve got lots to keep me busy. Life’s for living – live it until the end – that’s what I believe. ”
Those are the words of legendary BBC Radio Leicester DJ, Herdle White, who retired in May, after more than 50 years on air.
The 82-year-old has enjoyed an extraordinary career at the station – one which has seen him interview icons like Bob Marley and serve up the best reggae and soca tunes for five incredible decades.
Herdle – the BBC’s longest serving African Caribbean radio DJ, has been described as a “legend” and an “institution” at Radio Leicester – a joyful, spirited man who will be missed immensely by colleagues and listeners alike.
However, “all good things must come to an end,” he says of his decision to finally hang up his microphone. “I’ve done my bit!”
Reflecting on his colourful career, Herdle told Pukaar: “BBC Radio Leicester has afforded me the time and the pleasure of meeting so many nice and interesting people. Those will always be in my memory and keep me smiling! It’s been a beautiful experience and I’ve enjoyed every moment.
“It’s going to leave a big hole in my life in a way. However, I’ve been there long enough and it’s time to say goodbye!“
During his time at Radio Leicester, Herdle has interviewed stars such as Billy Ocean, Eddie Murphy and Bob Marley. However, one of his favourite memories is an encounter he had with the Hot Chocolate singer Errol Brown.
It happened eight years ago when the star was set to embark on his final tour of Britain.
He was coming to Leicester, so Herdle organised an interview with him over the phone. The pair hit it off immediately.
“Each interviewer was given 15 minutes. However, when my time came, Errol told his secretary that he was enjoying our chat so much – so he made the others wait while we carried on for another ten minutes!” Herdle recalls.
“We had a lot in common. He came here from Jamaica when he was eight or nine, and I arrived in 1959. So we spoke about that, and his music of course…”
And the memorable interaction didn’t end there.
When Errol came to Leicester on tour, Herdle was invited backstage to meet him in person.
“We hugged each other – it was like we were long lost brothers or something!” he revealed.
“I wasn’t expecting that kind of response from an international superstar! It was amazing – quite surreal really!”
After speaking to Herdle, it’s clear why people warm to him so much and hold him in such high regard.
I was struck by his infectious energy and incredible zest for life. And he has no plans to go slow down in his retirement I was glad to hear.
“I play badminton every Monday and Friday and play walking cricket with the guys at Grace Road. It’s great fun! I’m also looking forward to doing some travelling,” he said of his retirement plans.
“Of course, I’ll still be playing my records. I’ve got lots that I really like and not just reggae. I’m into soul, I’m into jazz, so I can just go and sit for a couple of hours and listen to my music on my headphones. You can’t get much better than that!”
As for what Hurdle will miss most about working at Radio Leicester, it’s the loyal listeners of course.
“People would text or email in to the show to show their appreciation and let me know they were loving the music. It’s a great feeling you know, and I’ll miss that,” he revealed.
He’ll also miss the colleagues he’s had the privilege of working with over the years.
“I’ve met so many people who’ve come to work at Radio Leicester – whether it’s older people or younger people -we get on extremely well, and I guess it’s helped to keep me young at heart,” he said.
“It’s been a joy and a privilege. You become friends and you stay friends. That’s something money can’t buy.”