MARBLEHEAD — Rhod Sharp, the former presenter of BBC Radio 5 Live's "Up All Night," which was broadcast for many years from his home on Franklin Street, saw his broadcast career cut short in March due to the coronavirus.
Since then, Sharp's mellifluous Scottish accent has returned to the airwaves with his new podcast: "Rhodcast."
The podcast focuses on artists and performers whose creative outlets "were rudely interrupted by the deathly horseman of COVID ..." according to Sharp's new website, rhodsharp.com. The podcast features original music for the soundtrack by Marblehead and Vermont-based composer Mason Daring.
Sharp's first guest was Boston Pops Orchestra Conductor Keith Lockhart, and the podcast was launched to coincide with the Fourth of July, which saw the Boston Pops fireworks spectacular canceled due to the pandemic. The episode features Lockhart talking about the struggles of trying to conduct an orchestra virtually.
Sharp came to the United States and New York shortly after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to cover the aftermath for U.K. listeners. He recalls going out "to the far Rockaways" to talk to a guy whose brother was a firefighter who died in the attacks.
"I think those are the stories you had to tell and you had to get them across to people who were trying to live this in the U.K.," Sharp said.
So how did he wind up broadcasting "Up All Night" from Marblehead in 2004?
About that time, he said, he was on sabbatical in the town of Harvard. His wife, Vicki Staveacre, suggested they visit the coast and she plotted a route to Marblehead.
"We kind of stopped when the road ran out and parked the car," he said.
They parked beside the old office of the Marblehead Reporter on Washington Street. Staveacre went in and met a local Marblehead legend, columnist Fraffie Welch, behind the desk. They hit it off. Staveacre "let fall" that Sharp worked for the BBC, and Welch insisted he come in to chat.
"We went in and we were, you know, sort of adopted at that point," Sharp said. "It's all Fraffie's fault."
Sharp kept coming back to town.
In 2004, Staveacre suggested they buy a place here, so they bought the top floor of 12 Darling St.
This was actually the second place from which Sharp broadcast "Up All Night" in Marblehead.
The first was from WESX, the old radio station on Naugus Head, where he used an ISDN line to connect with the BBC.
When Sharp needed another place to broadcast from, he decided to do the show from his kitchen counter at 12 Darling St. He did that until they moved at the end of 2007.
When it came to doing the overnight show, being in a time zone five hours behind London actually made it easier to do.
"The time is the key because I had been seriously up all night for about 12 years back in the U.K.," he said. A car would get him at 8:30 p.m., and he would be back home at 5:30 a.m.
"It really messes with your head," Sharp said.
And how did the coronavirus cut short his "Up All Night" career, which had been winding down?
He did the show on a Wednesday night, March 18-19. And at the end, he read the poem "Jabberwocky," by Lewis Carroll, as an indication of how crazy things were getting in the world.
Then he sent out an email asking if he could continue the show.
"'We are into new times here, and you need this show, and you need me,'" Sharp told his boss, "and basically the boss wrote back to me the next day and said: 'No, we're OK, thanks. We're fine.' So then I got the phone call saying: 'Terribly sorry, old chap, but last night was your last show,' so that was that."
Distraught fans took to Twitter.
"It failed to sway the gods of broadcasting," Sharp said.
The plan was for him to do his last show from Marblehead on March 29, and then he was supposed fly to London to do a last live audience show from April 1-2.
"To this day, people back there say we are still going to do that, so we'll have to wait and see. My actual farewell has been postponed indefinitely," Sharp said.