Martin Hodge was one of my favourite human beings. We met at a gig at the Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter, he came and sat on the same table as myself and a friend, and told me that he really liked my performance. He was so wonderfully sincere and immediately charming, and we exchanged email addresses, Facebook friend requests, all the normal modern means of connecting.
A couple of days later he sent me a text message asking if I’d like to appear on a radio show he was hosting, Listen Out, on Phonic FM. It was a radio show dedicated to Exeter’s LGBT community, and I jumped at the chance. I’d never done any radio work before, and I was incredibly nervous, I also had to journey up from Hayle in Cornwall, where I’d been staying with my parents.
But Martin was fantastic, we sat and had a pre show drink in a small pub on a Sunday night, and he completely put me at my ease. The show went very well indeed, and even though I was only on in the first hour, he invited me to stay for the whole programme, sat in the corner and listening to the music. Just before my section, he played Will Young, a beautiful song which even now reminds me of that night.
That was the first time I was his guest, and over the years I would guest again on both Listen Out and, when that had finished, The Respect Show. Martin was so genial and supportive, he got me a gig at a Phonic FM fundraiser at the Phoenix, and we’d keep bumping into each other at various events in Exeter. He was a keen fan of music and his knowledge of the local scene was almost encyclopaedic. One of the last times I saw him, he gave me a Pet Shop Boys cd, because he knew they were my favourite band, and he’d always play one of their tracks when I was on his show.
Martin was the most relaxed person I’ve ever met. Nothing ever seemed to faze him. He was the sort of person who could make anyone feel calm, his measured, genial tones perfect for the radio. He was incredibly generous too, with his praise, his time, his willingness to share his knowledge of music and the technology of radio work. I’ve never known someone with so many friends, either. It seemed that everyone in Exeter connected to music knew him, worshipped him, smiled at the mention of his name.
I last saw him just over a month ago. Croydon Tourist Office had a live gig on the Respect Show, and I’m sure it wasn’t exactly what he’d been expecting, but he seemed to enjoy it and immerse himself in the craziness of our act. I saw him briefly afterwards, as he walked past us, a cheery word or two and he was gone. That night we exchanged text messages, in which he thanked us for coming on the show.
Martin had so many friends, and it’s them that I’ve been thinking of the last few days. He will be so missed by so many people. His work in promoting music and encouraging people to have a good time will go on, you can still hear him on the archived pages of his radio show. To his family and loved ones I extend the deepest condolences, and to Martin I say simply, thank you.