Mary Anne Hobbs: My life in media
'John Peel taught us how to live this life. Never sell out anything you believe in and you be rewarded with a degree of great happiness'
Monday 30 October 2006
Mary Anne Hobbs, 35, is the firebrand presenter of Radio 1's Thursday night electronic show Experimental. Born in the Lancashire village of Garstang, she started her media career as a print journalist, working for NME and Loaded among other titles, and has presented a myriad of motorcycle shows for such television channels as British Eurosport, Men and Motors and BBC World. She now lives in north London and can ride any motorbike you care to park in front of her.
So what inspired you to embark on a career in the media?
I guess watching the tabloids in a state of blind panic about the influence of The Sex Pistols on my generation. I ran away to London at 18 to live with a band on a bus and launch my own fanzine, Krush.
When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?
The local Garstang Courier. My mum bought it principally for the WI's gooseberry jam-making tips, and as a teenager I trawled the back pages for news about village dances which took place in local barns.
And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?
We were only allowed to watch TV at Christmas, and then my dad would frequently take a large hammer to the top of the telly because the picture would never settle properly. Radio was my salvation. John Peel's show was a gateway to another universe.
Describe your job.
What I do with the BBC Radio 1 Experimental Show is like building a bridge between a global audience that's so tenacious and hungry and the pioneering artists and producers I adore. In my mind's eye, that bridge looks like it's made from dirty rope stretched across some devastating crevasse in the Amazon.
What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?
www.myspace.com - no contest. It's really exciting to have reduced the degrees of separation between music lovers so much.
Do you consult any media sources during the working day?
Everything happens online in 2006. The forums and the bloggers are running things - dubstepforum.com and dogsonacid.com are phenomenal. I do love the music mags for fierce snobs like me though too, such as Wire and Plan B.
What is the best thing about your job?
Being told on a regular basis by listeners and artists all over the world that my BBC Radio 1 show has changed their lives and, in many cases, their destiny. That is such a buzz.
And the worst?
There's never enough time on air. I have on average 50 records that I'd love to play on the show every week, but my audience will never hear them. It's agony.
How do you feel you influence the media?
I guess you could call the show "taste-making". I prefer to think of it as a beacon of hope.
What's the proudest achievement in your working life?
Curating my first album, Warrior Dubz, which is just out today - it's the sound of the electronic underground in the UK in 2006. More than half of the tracks are exclusive and the record features the finest work from a fist-full of my favourite producers.
At home, what do you tune in to?
Rinse FM and the BBC's 1Xtra, and I endeavour to watch, read or listen to anything that Chris Morris has been involved with.
What is your Sunday paper? And do you have a favourite magazine?
The Observer. I buy it for the magazine's questionnaire This Much I Know, all about absolute truths in life. I love the comic Modern Toss.
Name the one career ambition you want to realise before you retire
I will never retire.
If you didn't work in the media what would you do?
I'd be a stunt girl in Hollywood, doing all the motorcycle action scenes for Uma Thurman in Tarantino's movies. I'm still considering motherhood.
Who in the media do you most admire and why?
John Peel - RIP. He taught us how to live this life. Never sell out anything you believe in and you'll be rewarded with a degree of great happiness.
Mary Anne Hobbs' 'Warrior Dubz' is out on Planet Mu
1986: Writer for Sounds music paper. Having been profoundly influenced by a snapshot of Metallica, she moved to Hollywood to investigate the dark underbelly of the LA scene - and lived in a shed.
1988: Joined NME as major feature writer, authoring that title's first Nirvana cover story and scooping a world exclusive on gangsta rapper Ice-T during the debacle over his track Cop Killer.
1993: Poached by publisher James Brown to join the team that launched Loaded magazine. Wrote undercover stories about a Private Detective Agency, Cocaine Dealers To The Stars and a Soho Sex Club.
1996: Joined BBC Radio1 and launched the influential underground electronic show, the Breezeblock.
2001: Travelled to India, Japan, Russia, across the US and Europe to film 72 stories about motorcycle culture, with Moscovite gang leaders, Bollywood stunt men et al. The resulting TV show, Mary Anne's Bikes, was broadcast to 120 million people on BBC World.
2006: Launched the brand new dark electronic show Mary Anne Hobbs, BBC Radio1 Experimental, Thursday night/Friday morning 2-4am. The show features cutting-edge dancefloor music, from dubstep to grime, drum&bass and hip-hop.
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