Michael Watkins – Q&A

Michael Watkins.


Where are you from?
Born Kilburn, London. Grew up in Swansea.

How did you get started in Broadcasting?
Voluntary work for Richmond-upon-Thames College Radio; then AA Roadwatch, compiling and broadcastiing road traffic reports.

When was that?
College Radio — 1984/5 AA: 1988-94.

Why news/weather boardcasting?
News and current affairs always appealed to me much more than being a DJ or phone-in presenter. I used to watch the news avidly as a child and often found the stories more thought-provoking than many made-up TV dramas. My interest in broadcasting came long after my fascination with the news itself. Newsreading is now more or less a misleading term. It’s not, as some might think, just a reading job. I enjoy trying to make the best sense I can of the words put in front of me, which after all have been laboured-over by a colleague in the newsroom.

Where else would have viewers seen or heard you before?
I presented news for BBC Radio 5 Live for four years, anchoring Morning Reports, the station’s early breakfast news show from 5-6am.

What is your Best on-air moment?
At AA Roadwatch, while broadcasting live on local radio, I would very often be talking live about one incident, whilst holding the telephone to my ear listening to a police officer telling me about another traffic incident, which I would then broadcast myself a few seconds later in the same slot. I very much enjoyed covering Jubilee weekend and the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts for Sky. Paradoxically, many of my best on-air moments would not be noticed on-air: the times when the unexpected happens behind the scenes and the presenter has to carry-on regardless.

What is your Worst on-air moment?
No comment, I’m sure there have been several. Thankfully, I’ve never yet fallen prey to the stereo-typical laughing fit, though I have managed to corpse a co-presenter with an on-air anecdote. There have been times when absolutely everything that could go wrong, has gone wrong due to occasional technical gremlins — and through nobody’s fault I have been left to fill time. Those usually brief moments can sometimes feel like an eternity.

What would like to do before your career ends?
Reach the age of 36!!!

What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love (trying to) keep fit, eating out (those two are often incompatible!)and spending time with friends..

What advice would you give to anyone that would like to get into the broadcasting world?
The best advice I can offer is be honest with yourself about your god-given talents, desires and limitations. Choose an subject you’re interested in, such as news, sport or music and become knowledgeable in that subject. Have something else to offer besides enthusiasm and qualifications, whether it be a foreign language or knowledge of current affairs. Get involved in hospital or community radio or cable TV. The experience you gain will be valuable and is respected radio and TV bosses..

Other information?
I run a broadcasting training course three times a year with my LBC Radio 1152 colleague, Tony O’Rourke. We teach people how to become radio traffic reporters. Many of our former students now appear regularly on local radio. It’s an extremely good way to get started. Details are available from www.travnews.info.

A big thanks to Michael for taking part.

Posted by Johnnie Larkin on Thursday 21 May 2009
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