Gary Bunt

Episode 178,   Sep 26, 2023, 06:16 PM

My guest this week is Gary Bunt, Professor of Islamic Studies at University of Wales Trinity Saint David. Gary and I made a reverse academic journey as he was an undergraduate student at Kent before moving to Lampeter in later years, whereas I started at Lampeter and moved to Kent.

The first half of our conversation relates to a less known aspect of Gary’s life in which he had a radio career in BBC production, including working with Brian Matthew. He met artists like The Specials and John Lydon when they were promoting their records. 

Gary also received the tapes from the last interview that John Lennon gave, to Andy Peebles, before he died, and had a week to put together a documentary on Lennon. He also did some archive work on the 60s at the BBC, e.g. finding old session tracks.

We learn why Gary left that world behind and became involved with a charity called Radio Lollipop which involved laying on big events. He became more involved in working with the patients, which also signalled a change in direction.

Gary remembers listening to the radio from when he was young. He was more of a Capital than Radio 1 person, with the likes of Roger Scott and Nicky Horne, and we talk about the role of the radio presenter and their personae. Gary knew Brian Matthew and used to chat to him on his commute to work. We also learn about the Pirate Radio stations which influenced him, including the Dread Broadcasting Corporation which played reggae, as well as his enjoyment of listening to John Peel.

Gary interviewed Adam Ant on one occasion, being in the right place at the right time, and we learn that Gary was not someone liable to be star struck, though he wishes he had some photos/selfies from those days.

We find out why Gary was intrigued by the possibility of going to university, where, at the University of Kent, he applied his research skills from his media work to his degree. After initially studying English, Gary ended up focusing after his first year on Religious Studies, including specializing in Islam.

Gary reflects on his student days, including the trips he made, such as to Egypt, and how he ended up doing a research-based Masters at Durham.

Then, at the end of the interview, we discover what the future has in store for Gary.