On Radio City, From 10 until 2AM, Sunday through Thursday Pete Price hosts one of the U.K's most popular radio call in shows. Occasionally someone will ring in to discuss some pressing political or social issue with the famously opinionated and outspoken host. You also get a lot of nut cases, one man thought police helicopters were tracking his every move, so he installed CCTV camera's all round his house and started taking pictures of the sky. But most callers are simple content to try and wind Pete up, hoping to inspire one of his legendary rants.
Recent pranksters include a man who complained that youths were threatening his Nan by taping pen knives to Pit Bulls. Whilst another caller swore blind he'd befriended an alien on the way home from the pub, before putting the extra terrestrial in question on the phone. Cue spot on Chewbacca impression.
The definition of a local superstar Price has carved a niche for himself in the small pond of Liverpool celebrity culture, his show offering a haven for the mad, lonely and bored. Christmas Panto fixture, broadcaster and all round glittery jacket wearing famous person, Price is a seemingly permanent source of crazy tales and conflict. This is a man who after trying cocaine and not being unable to deal with the guilt of banging a load of class A's up his nose handed himself into the police. Only to be told to piss off.
Starting out as a stand up in Liverpool's Shakespeare club he learnt early on how to deal with hecklers, something that's proved useful in his radio career. Never one to shy away from on air confrontation and famed for speaking his mind he frequently refers to his callers as Vermin, Brainless Saddo's, Peasants and No Marks. These on air tirades are the holy grail for most who tune in. Sometimes when it all gets too much and the listeners "refuse to get the wax out of their stupid thick heads" he will scream "I'm going for a walk" before doing exactly that, leaving the producer with dead air, a line of angry callers and an empty studio.
But Price's show has always been a mixture of the absurd and a genuine insight into the lives of the troubled and lonely. In 2004 he abandoned his post to aid a 13 year old caller threatening to kill himself. He did something similar in 2006 when regular caller "Terry" fell ill whilst live on air. Price again left the studio but arrived too late, other concerned listeners had forced entry to Terry's home but he'd already died of a heart attack. It's this mixture of raw, real world emotion and complete insanity that's made The Pete Price show a hidden gem in British broadcasting.
Famously and flamboyantly Gay, Price has also been the target for almost unabated homophobic abuse during his broadcasting career. It's often the sign of a prank that's fallen flat when the caller resorts to telling Price too "stop taking his handbag out to town with him, if he wants to stop getting beaten up" or that "he wears his pants backwards". Price has been quoted as saying the abuse, for the most part, goes over his head. No surprise considering he was sent for aversion therapy to cure his homosexuality at eighteen but left when he saw patients being treated with electrodes. He later confronted one of his doctors in a gay bar and dished out a pretty severe beating.
The cult of Pete Price continues to grow. A recent twitter campaign, the imaginatively titled "Prank Pete Price" saw the show receive 11,500 calls in under two hours with participants calling from as far afield as the U.S and Australia. Forcing the switchboards of this local radio show into meltdown and making Price, for a bit at least, the number one trending twitter topic in the world. Pete characteristically took it in his stride and thanked the pranksters for garnering him five thousand extra twitter followers.
He's notorious more than famous, filling the same space in the local community as some endearing madcap character that everyone has heard of but no one has ever actually met. He exists in the jet stream of the real superstars that have emerged from the city, with his website acting as a shrine to his celebrity pals. But in a world of bland, formulaic over produced entertainment the Pete Price Radio Show offers a genuine insight in to an unseen world and provides a voice to those people that sometimes feel lost within a major city. That's undoubtedly a great thing, but it's better when someone rings up and tries to convince Pete they were born a chicken or that they know an old tramp who's obsessed with corned beef. It's one of those things you have to hear for yourself at least once.