This morning I met with Gareth Knight from Bro Radio. Gareth was born with a sight condition that has resulted with him being partially sighted in the right eye and practically blind in the left, he went to a primary school with a special unit for partially sighted and blind children in Cardiff.
It was decided he would go to a mainstream secondary school as it was closer to home, St Cyrus in Penarth, although he got on ok at first he struggled later on and left with little in the way of qualifications.
During his teenage years, the one thing he loved was the radio, it was always just there, his parents loving both music and speech radio and he developed his own love for it and particular stations and presenters. Following an advert in a local paper at age 16 he joined Rookwood Sound Hospital radio while also attending a media course in college, which he had to leave unfortunately when he developed a cataract on his good eye and it wasn’t a straightforward operation as they usually are, within about a year he developed another one on his other eye, which was also removed.
Thinking he would never get any further in radio, Gareth spent 5 years working in a call centre, as it meant using his voice and working on a computer, both things he was confident with. The sight in his good eye then deteriorated and he was unable to continue in the job. After a while of trying to find out what caused the drop in sight (identified as a result of his cornea slowly deteriorating) and learning to adapt to poorer sight,he returned to hospital radio, as it was what he really loved and wanted to see how he would cope after a few years away from it, while there he presented the sports show and various other on and off air roles.
While receiving mobility training to regain some independence (he was having to rely on my parents for getting around at the time). He heard that the Royal National Institute For The Blind had started a radio station and were opening a studio in Cardiff, contacted them and a little while later started doing some work for them, starting with a weekly sports report, then presenting his own weekly rock show.
When he left there he joined a local DAB commercial station in Ebbw Vale, during his 6 months there he presented a daily week day show and also covered the sports show on Saturday.
Gareth started at Bro Radio in 2012, A great opportunity to present on a radio station in the town he lives in. Initially recording an overnight show and providing some cover, he was then given the Drive show, which included traffic reports, this kind of job has been made much easier with the advent of tablet computers, as he can now read off the screen in front of himself as opposed to printing off lots of large print papers.
In 2014 Gareth was asked to take over the Breakfast show, he had covered this slot a couple of times but never thought he would actually make it his own. The 5am wake up took a bit of getting used to but having worked in call centres and radio, he was used to working at different times.
The thing he loves about working in radio is that no one can see the disability when you are on air, so they are just interested in what you are saying. He has been told by former bosses that when they first met him and were aware of his sight condition, they didn’t think he would cope. It is down to his own determination and learning to adapt to the environment that has allowed Gareth to do what he loves.