35 but don’t tell anyone
Where are you from?
Born Leamington Spa in Warwickshire, and spent my formative years in Northamptonshire
How did you get started in broadcasting?
While working on a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, I made the mistake of having friends in student radio – and decided that what they were doing would be much more fun. So I left research, and saved up to be a broadcast journalist. I put myself through college at University of Cardiff.
When was that?
1994-95, when I was the ripe old age of 24.
Why News broadcasting?
Well that’s changed over the years. Initially, I felt that news would give me something to get my teeth into. While other friends of mine were becoming commercial radio presenters, or accepting ‘real’ jobs, I felt that news could be a strong and challenging way to continue broadcasting. Actually, having reported across commercial and BBC radio and TV, I’ve met tens of thousands of interesting people on the job. They’ve changed the way I look at news – now, it’s about their stories, not about simply reporting the news for news’s sakes.
Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
Radio 1 – where I was a reporter and presenter for more than 4 years. People generally recognised my name, then my voice. Whenever I’m recognised on the street, it’s as the other funnier one – Harry Hill. Or Wayne Hemmingway.
What is your Best on-air moment?
Now there’s a question. The sheer noise and excitement of reporting live on Liverpool’s Champions League victory in Europe in 2005 was great – and a chance to begin a live hit with “I can’t hear a word you’re saying”. But I think reporting back from New York with Michael Jackson and pals from his 30 years of stardom celebration was strange and exciting in equal amounts, as was reporting back daily from the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire trial, as people queued up with their sweets and drinks to watch a court-based drama unfold ‘live’. Bizarre.
What is your Worst on-air moment?
Well that’s easy. As a cub newsreader, mis-reading the place name Bearsted (in Kent), and watching the presenter collapse in laughter as my job at that particular station went up in smoke. Absolutely hilarious.
What would you like to do before your career ends?
Report from the most naturally inhospitable places on Earth. An erupting volcano would probably top that list.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Do we have time? I run, write, travel, paint, listen, watch, and design…have composed music for TV and radio, written radio and stage comedy, and am absolutely passionate about new music. I also teach journalism and believe that when the job’s done well, it’s one of the most valuable that we have.
What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
Always listen to the advice people give you – but do the job your way. This is a very popular business to be in and jobs can be hard to come by. But nobody can tell a story, explain a concept, gather contacts, and present them in the way that YOU can. Train, practice, work for free – and learn the trade. But you can radically improve your chances of becoming a motivated and insightful broadcaster if you bring your OWN skills into the mix. There’s already one John Humphries.
Don’t try to be famous. If you’re good, that may happen anyway.
A big thanks to Lindley for taking part.