Throughout my professional life, I’ve often found myself explaining to people that I’m ‘the other’ Bob Kingsley.
There’s a second Bob Kingsley you see, over in America (there he is, pictured on the left), who also happens to be in the radio business and has been the presenter of a globally successful country music chart show for decades. I’ve been mistaken for him several times during the past thirty years. I doubt very much that he’s ever been mistaken for me, but that’s understandable.
Early on it was at radio station voice sessions. Some of them aired BK’s American Country Countdown which they’d bought in from the US, so the name was familiar. In one instance I was mistaken for the great man himself, dropping in on some kind of unscheduled promotional flying visit. The receptionist, on hearing my name, fair swooned. Then she realised that my voice, whilst possessing a pleasingly deep-brown timbre not unlike that of an American DJ, had an English accent. Her dismay was palpable when I revealed I was just a bloke who happened to have the same name coming in to voice a few local radio ads.
Mind you, I’d compounded the poor girl’s confusion by turning up looking somewhat like a country radio DJ. I was in my Clint Eastwood phase back then — cowboy hat, long hair, full beard, hand-rolled cigarette hanging from my lips, leather drover’s coat and hand-made, Cuban-heeled cowboy boots — so she could be forgiven her error. (Look, it just happened to be the public persona I’d adopted at that time. I was a big Clint fan, and we are talking about nearly thirty years ago.) Whenever these aberrations occurred, I confess I was secretly flattered at being mistaken for someone of BK’s calibre.
Thanks to digital technology, I was able to do my voice work increasingly at home from the early 1990s onwards. This had its obvious advantages, but the downside was that I met fewer and fewer people in the bizz and so the occasional face-to-face misidentifications stopped. Eventually I came off the road altogether. I was an instant Internet fan when it came along and soon had myself all tooled up. During the early growth of the World Wide Web, when searching for someone by name was still largely a hit-and-miss affair, I began receiving e-mails asking me for details about this or that great record I’d played on the Countdown the other week (the show for which BK — the, er, the other BK, if you follow me — was, and still is, quite rightly world famous). I used to enjoy replying, pointing the enquirers politely to his official web site. Sometimes I’d even try answering their query if I thought I could help. Occasionally we’d strike up a brief rapport after I’d apologised for not being the Bob Kingsley they were expecting but the other one, in the same line of work but living in the UK. Americans, I’ve found, are often very friendly to a Brit when they bump into one serendipitously.
They haven’t been dropping in any more for quite some time now. The eye-catching web site for Bob Kingsley’s Country Top 40 has obviously been doing its job of making sure people find the right Bob Kingsley.
As I became more immersed in the world of social networking over the ensuing years, I used the online sobriquet ‘Somerset Bob’ wherever I left my digital footprints — blog titles, signatures on bulletin board posts, usernames, things like that. It’s not something I began doing consciously with a view to deliberately sloughing off the old persona at some point in the future; I suppose it was just because I’d moved to the county of Somerset in the south-west of England and I really love the place. And the way the two words just seemed to fit nicely together when they’re written or spoken. They have a certain ring. Ta-da-da-DAH. Som-er-set BOB. It’s got rhythm. It’s got music. It’s got my name — who could ask for anything more?
With the passage of the years, the hair’s thinned alarmingly, though I still wear it hippily long; the beard’s turned heavily grey and I now keep it closely trimmed. I’ve hung up my cowboy gear, though I can’t bear to part with the boots, which are stashed away in the bottom of the wardrobe where, unaccountably, they still manage to gather a patina of dust, and I do still wear the cowboy hat, though these days — what with the spectacles I’m now forced to wear for fear of bumping into things — I look less the impressive cowpoke and more like a scraggy old British geezer wearing incongruous headgear.
The other BK is far more globally famous than I am or can ever hope to be — and for good reason. He’s got a terrific talent and a great product that’s well marketed. He also stuck to his guns down the years, whereas I didn’t. I moved from radio show presentation into voice-over work and, with the space I’ve got here on this blog, I can occasionally give vent to the urge to write stuff.
And anyway — for a blog title, Somerset Bob’s Place is much catchier than The Other Bob Kingsley’s Place, don’t you think?
Be seeing you.
Somerset Bob Kingsley
Updated 9th January 2013.