Carolyn Quinn: My Life In Media

'Most embarrassing moment? Talking to a filing cabinet rather than a camera during an interview. I'd lost my glasses'

Carolyn Quinn has presented the Today programme since 2004 and presents Saturday PM. After taking a degree in French at the University of Kent she joined the BBC Local Radio reporters' scheme. She moved to the BBC's political and parliamentary team in 1989 and became a political correspondent in 1994. She lives with her husband in west London.

What inspired you to start a career in the media?

Getting involved with hospital radio at Charing Cross Hospital - it started as a hobby and just developed from there.

When you were 15, what was the family newspaper and did you read it?

The Daily Mirror and The Irish Post, and on Sundays usually The Sunday Telegraph. I read The Irish Post more assiduously later, when I was trying to break into journalism. I wrote some pretty ropy articles for the editor, Brendan MacLua. He took pity on me and gave me a tryout in a junior job.

What were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Noel Edmonds on Radio 1. Greg Edwards' Soul Spectrum on Capital Radio.

On TV: Fawlty Towers, Starsky and Hutch, Nationwide, and I'll watch any medical documentary.

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

On Today shifts, I skim through all the papers in the car on the way in, to see what's playing big. Then there's a more concentrated look before and during the programme, particularly editorials.

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Constantly checking wires and using Google. Listening to/watching continuous news on Five Live, News 24, Sky...

What's the best thing about your job?

The amazing variety, access to the top names and experts in their fields, being there at key moments in history. Also working with terrifically driven, bright producers and reporters. And the great camaraderie.

What's the worst?

If you work on programmes like Today and PM, you have to accept they are really part of the nation's fabric and with that comes responsibility and exposure - make a small mistake and everyone knows it. Having to get up at 3.15am.

The proudest achievement in your working life?

Seeing how proud I've made my parents.

Your most embarrassing moment?

Talking to a filing cabinet rather than the camera during a down-the-line interview from Jerusalem. I'd lost my glasses and couldn't tell which was which.

Also, saying "Good evening" at 9am at the end of a Today programme.

At home, what do you tune in to?

I'm a "radio in every room" person, flicking between Radio 4 and Five Live. In the evening my guilty pleasure is Clive Bull on London's LBC.

I also like BBC Ten O'Clock News, Channel 4 News, Life on Mars, 24. And I'm hooked on The Apprentice.

What is your Sunday paper and do you have a favourite magazine?

The Observer, The Sunday Telegraph and The Mail on Sunday. New Statesman, The Spectator and my husband's Empire for the film reviews.

Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire.

If they pick someone else for Desert Island Discs, my other big ambition is to present a major state occasion - a coronation perhaps? If not, I'd settle for test-driving something fast on Top Gear.

If you didn't work in the media, what would you do?

Probably use my languages in some way, though NOT teaching. In my dreams, a jazz pianist or a restaurant reviewer.

Who in the media do you most admire, and why?

Too difficult to single out any one colleague. I've long admired the Dimblebys for their longevity, authority, creativity, and immense calm and control even when mayhem is breaking out, on election programmes for instance.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
people
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West found himself at the centre of a critical storm over the weekend after he apparently claimed to be “the next Mandela” during a radio interview
music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
News
i100
News
Perry says: 'Psychiatrists give help because they need help. You would not be working in mental health if you didn't have a curiosity about how the mind works.'
people
Life and Style
Stepping back in time: The Robshaws endured the privations of the 1950s
food + drinkNew BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst - High Wycombe - £30,000

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Junior Business Systems Analyst role...

Guru Careers: Talent Manager

£30-35k (P/T - Pro Rata) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienc...

Sauce Recruitment: New Media Marketing Manager - EMEA - Digital Distribution

£35000 - £45000 per annum + up to £45,000: Sauce Recruitment: The Internation...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing / PR / Social Media Executive

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A thriving online media busines...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003
Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

Dinner through the decades

A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

Philippa Perry interview

The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

Harry Kane interview

The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?