I went to Brighton Polytechnic to do languages, which I didn't particularly enjoy. But while I was there I started working on a local radio station - Radio Sussex - on a youth programme called Turn It Up. That kind of launched me, and in 1988 I applied for the radio journalism course at City University, and moved from Brighton to London to do that. While I was there I did a placement at Radio 4, and doing that I also got to know people at Radio 1.
I then went to work in television for a while, first on a programme called Club X. It was live TV, and the most chaotic show: in the end Channel 4 took it off the air, because someone took an airgun into the studio. Then I worked on setting up The Power Station, which was BSB's music video channel, but of course not enough people bought a squarial and it only lasted about 18 months. But it was a good learning experience, and I produced a very strange alternative therapy show presented by Boy George.
After that I went to work for Charlie Parsons, who'd been in charge of Club X, on The Word. I used to book the bands for it - some really good bands like Nirvana, Hole and Rage Against The Machine. There were always furious debates about The Word, but the only time there was any controversy involving me was when I booked a Riot Grrrl band called Huggy Bear, who whacked Terry Christian on air. When I went into work on the following Monday, the producers came up to me and said: "What were you thinking of, booking Huggy Bear?" But by Wednesday it had all made the front cover of Melody Maker, and then the producers came up to me and said: "You did so well" - a complete volte face.
I stayed on The Word for two series, and while I was there got to know Jeff Smith, who was Mark Goodier's producer on the Evening Session. He phoned up one day to say that Mark was being moved on to daytime for four weeks, and they wanted to try out different people on the Session as a way for looking for new talent. I was offered a week on it, and it was utterly terrifying: I remember opening up my microphone for the first time and thinking "I don't know what to say", so I made something up about some Levellers' tour dates. I then got this angry phone call from their record company saying "They're not on tour!", and I said "I know". I don't know why I said it.
But it all came good, and I went on to do the Evening Session with Steve Lamacq from 1994 until this year. When we started, it coincided with the exit of Simon Bates and Dave Lee Travis from Radio 1 - that whole changeover when Johnny Beerling left and Matthew Bannister took over. It really felt like the end of an era - an odd time, but an exciting time as well.
I think we did a lot of work on the Session - we went hand in hand with Britpop, and the rise of Oasis - but when Chris Evans went earlier this year, it was time for another change. When I was asked to do the lunchtime show, it seemed like a really good opportunity to move on, and to take some of the new music I played on the Session onto daytime.
I also started doing Top of the Pops when I was on the Session. That's the most bizarre experience in the world: I've sat at home watching Jimmy Saville presenting old editions on UK Gold, and to think that you've done it too - and that people might still be watching you do it in 20 years' time - is very strange.The real highs for me have been some of the interviews I've done - though I get incredibly nervous about them - and the occasions I've covered, like REM live in the south of France, and U2 live recently. That was both a high and a low point, because while I got to meet them, there was a technical hitch and we were off air for a few seconds. We were going out to 145 million people, from their studio in Dublin, and I felt like Samantha Fox doing the Brits a few years ago.
My role model is Annie Nightingale. I used to listen to her religiously on a Sunday night, and wish she was still on then. She has an amazing voice, and if ever I'm having a crisis of confidence and think "What am I supposed to be like?", I think: "Be like Annie - be a natural"nReuse content