Real work: The secret of my success - Annie Nightingale

Annie Nightingale, the first female DJ on radio, started with the BBC in 1970. Her Saturday night/Sunday morning show on Radio 1 begins at 4am, and she also plays regularly in clubs. Her autobiography, Wicked Speed, has just been published.

One of the keys to success is being in the right place at the right time. If you hang on in there, one day someone will be off sick and you'll get a chance. I fell into broadcasting by accident. If I could've been a singer or a musician I'd have been in a band. But I can't sing - a bit embarrassing with a name like Nightingale - so I thought I'd be a DJ instead.

When I started out, the BBC said - in all seriousness - that DJs were seen as husband substitutes and so they couldn't employ a woman to do the job. On the other hand, there was no problem in a woman being a TV presenter, so I started in television and, finally, after considerable media pressure, the BBC decided to employ a female DJ and asked me. The amazing thing was that there weren't any other women around who wanted to be DJs - at least I didn't meet any.

Being a good DJ is all about being conscientious, but never thinking you are irreplaceable. Be self-critical and don't delude yourself; you are only as good as your last show. When a show does go well there is a certain magic that takes over and it has a life of its own, but it's not a thing you can put your finger on.

Ten years ago the acid house scene really got me back into clubbing again. Someone once told me that the key to a good club DJ is confidence and co-ordination - Club DJs practise scratching for hours just like a musician. I wouldn't say I'm the best mixer but I have evolved my own style. I don't have a set plan; I just think through what tunes will go well together and it's a thrill hearing the night evolve.

I'm constantly on the lookout for something innovative. My latest find is a label called Whole Nine Yards who have brought out two tunes. I played them at the Scala in London the other night and a fellow DJ asked me what they were which is always a good sign. However the music is so new the genre doesn't even have a name yet - that's just one of the things I love above this job.

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