The Big Fish - Ian Fisher

by Apple Sharma

Tue, 01 May 2018

The Big Fish - Ian Fisher

Ian Fisher talks fondly about his time at Radio Bahrain and his new role in teaching. 

A household name in Bahrain, Ian Fisher needs no introduction. For nearly four decades he entertained the masses with his familiar voice on Radio Bahrain.

He first came to the Kingdom in the ‘60s when his father joined BAPCO. Ian went to Awali School and, after finishing university in the UK, returned to the island. After a short stint at a quantity surveying firm, he began working for Radio Bahrain in 1978. “I started off originally in the library,” he says. “I’d help out and run errands and take requests. I’ve always had a love for music.”

Ian worked his way up and remembers his debut show, saying: “I’d done recorded shows. My first live show, I was sitting in for somebody and I was a bundle of nerves. I’ve rather improved on that since.”

One of the biggest things that happened during his career was when the Gulf War broke out. While many expatriates were leaving the island, Ian stayed back and recalls telling Ahmed Suleiman, the then head of Radio Bahrain: “There’s a war happening on my patch and I’m in the media – of course, I’m staying!”

He volunteered to do the late show, adding: “On the first night I did midnight till 6; I had hours of material and playlists. At ten to three, Dr Hala Al Omran, the undersecretary to the Ministry of Information, rang me in the studio and announced, “The Gulf War has started. There’s an air raid over Baghdad” and she put the phone down. I took about five seconds and thought I’m not going to need this playlist. The phones went absolutely crazy. Everybody from the radio station came in. We were ripping and reading stories from all over the place – absolutely incredible. I finished my shift and went, ‘Wow!’ I announced the Gulf War to the Gulf.” 

Having been on nearly every show on the radio, he finds it hard to pick a favourite, saying: “The breakfast show had its own vibe, its own pace, and it was certainly challenging. It was great fun to do, apart from the fact that I had to get up at 4.30am.”

In the aftermath of the recent changes at Radio Bahrain, Ian left the station last April after 39 years. He has fond memories of working with various colleagues, including Marie-Claire and Paul Frazer, and takes pride in his achievements, saying: “No matter what show I was doing, I put a lot into it – features, competitions and information, and I think it helped. Just putting on non-stop music doesn’t hack it, as far as I’m concerned.”

Recently, Ian has begun lending his voice to other projects, with audiobook narrations. “My most successful book so far is called Owen by Tony Riches. It’s a great story about Owen Tudor, who married Catherine of Valois, the widow of Henry V.”

Currently, he’s working on a historical novel set in the 1500s, called The Devil’s Library by Tom Pugh, and recently finished another – Night of Flames – set in World War II.

A man of many talents, Ian has been teaching English as a foreign language for over 20 years at various institutes in Bahrain, and now presides over Access Training Center (ATC). “I’m director of ATC, which is affiliated with ACEC, the American Center for Education and Culture,” he says. “ACEC is a Bahraini company that’s been running since 2000. It recently received an outstanding grade in the last Quality Assurance Agency survey.

“The centre teaches English. We do courses from beginners right the way through to IELTS, which is preparation for university. We’re moving into business English courses but waiting for approval from the relevant ministries.”

The institute has a scholarship programme for underprivileged students called the Access Program, sponsored by the US Embassy. “We just had a new intake at the beginning of the year and had over 800 applicants for 35 places,” says Ian. “We give them two years of English training and exposure to Western ideas and values.”

Most listeners would know that rock music is Ian’s favourite and he’s known occasionally to do some karaoke. He’s also an avid biker and runs with the Hash groups. 

Signing out, we wish Ian well in his new career!