You either loved it or hated it. Mike Hurley’s Saturday morning show, Hurley Burley, divided the audience. Mike was loud, witty, angry, funny, sarcastic, talented – very talented. His show worked by ridiculing the medium in which he worked and the audience which was his lifeblood. Local Radio in his mind was trivial, incompetent, staffed by idiots and listened to by people who had nothing better to do.
He mocked Commercial Local Radio even though his voiceovers were heard daily on radio commercials. If ever there was a society for biting the hand that feeds you and getting away with it, Mike Hurley could have been its president. Or perhaps that position should have been given to Bill Bore, a character he created to rant about things a BBC presenter couldn’t say in his own skin. From the gentle Hovis ad to those brash Sky TV and Sun commercials, Mike had a thousand voices, and when you spoke to him you were never quite sure which Mike Hurley you were speaking to. You can still hear some of the those voices on his website.
Mike had a stroke in February and never recovered. He was only 59. We were almost the same age. I worked with him in Hull in the 90’s when I was Assistant Editor at BBC Radio Humberside. My boss took him off air when the focus of BBC Local Radio was changing and his show no longer fitted in the schedule. His fans started a campaign in the local paper to bring him back, but without result. Hurley Burley fell silent.
When I became Managing Editor of BBC Radio York I revived his show for North Yorkshire where he lived. Mike’s irreverent and often outrageous style helped fill my in tray. Mainly with complaints, but there was some praise and the audience figures looked good. He introduced Sally Fairfax, a singer and aspiring broadcaster, to his show. He liked a sidekick and Sally knew him well enough to cope with his style. The show lasted 5 years before my successor axed it to save money. Hurley Burley fell silent again.
Today is Mike’s funeral in the village of Carlton where he lived near Selby in North Yorkshire. I will be there, listening for the echoes of his voice – Ay up, Bill Bore ‘ere …….