My Life In Media: Ben Cooper

'My alarm goes off at 7am and Chris Moyles's show comes on. So my commuting time is about five seconds'

Ben Cooper is the head of mainstream programming at BBC Radio 1. He grew up in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and took his first job as a "tea-boy" at BBC Hereford and Worcester before going on to present the 5am show ("the Alan Partridge shift, if you like"). He joined Radio 1 as a producer in 1997 and - except for a two-year spell at its London rival Capital - has been there ever since, and now stands at controller Andy Parfitt's right hand. He has been the architect of the shake-up of the station's daytime schedule, replacing Sara Cox with Chris Moyles at breakfast time and bringing in Colin Murray and Edith Bowman in place of Mark Radcliffe and Marc "Lard" Riley.

Ben Cooper is the head of mainstream programming at BBC Radio 1. He grew up in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, and took his first job as a "tea-boy" at BBC Hereford and Worcester before going on to present the 5am show ("the Alan Partridge shift, if you like"). He joined Radio 1 as a producer in 1997 and - except for a two-year spell at its London rival Capital - has been there ever since, and now stands at controller Andy Parfitt's right hand. He has been the architect of the shake-up of the station's daytime schedule, replacing Sara Cox with Chris Moyles at breakfast time and bringing in Colin Murray and Edith Bowman in place of Mark Radcliffe and Marc "Lard" Riley.

What inspired you to try a media career?

Listening to Simon Mayo's breakfast show on Radio 1 combined with my mum encouraging me to write to Radio Wyvern and ask for work experience.

When you were 15 years old, which newspaper did your family get, and did you read it?

My dad read The Guardian cover to cover every day. I remember it being a big decision in our house to try The Independent when it launched.

And what were you favourite TV and radio programmes?

Moonlighting with Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis was my must-watch TV as a teenager, and Steve Wright in the Afternoon was pure radio genius.

What's the first medium you go to in the mornings?

The alarm goes off at 7am and Chris Moyles's breakfast show comes on. So my commuting time is about five seconds.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

I get into work and look at The Sun and the press cuttings, usually check some media and music websites for industry gossip while eating my lunch, and then try to get home for Channel 4 News. I think the presenter, Jon Snow, is a fantastic broadcaster.

What is the best thing about your job?

Being able to stand at the side of the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and watch bands.

And the worst?

I can't switch off!

What's the proudest achievement of your working life?

Getting a Christmas card from Bono last year.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

Doing an impression of Eddie Izzard, who I think is brilliant, when I met him.

At home, what do you tune in to?

Funnily enough Radio 1, Five Live when Everton are playing, and a regular flick round the dial to see what everyone else is doing. On TV, I love The West Wing, Grand Designs and the BBC's coverage of the Six Nations rugby. I hate soap operas, to me, they're the ultimate waste of time.

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

I always get The Observer and I used to get The Face every month. It was pure escapism for me when I was growing up in Bromsgrove, and I find I still can't throw away any of my back issues. Now I like reading Wallpaper*, as it's great to spend time looking at houses that I might be able to buy when I win the lottery.

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

To win an Oscar for my portrayal of Inigo Montoya in a remake of The Princess Bride, and I'd quite like to be controller of Radio 1 one day, but I believe there's a queue.

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

It would be fantastic to get a job in the UK music industry. I think we lead the world when it comes to creating exciting new bands and artists. Failing that, someone told me politics is showbiz for ugly people, so that's always an option.

Who in the media do you most admire and why?

Eddie Izzard for being polite.

The CV

1991:

Leaves college in Bromsgrove with an ambition to follow heroes like Simon Mayo and Steve Wright.

1995:

After working on BBC Hereford & Worcester, presenting and making the tea, moves to BBC Three Counties Radio to present the drivetime show and lands the producer's job on the breakfast programme.

1997:

Big break. Moves to Radio 1 and starts producing Nicky Campbell's afternoon show. Later produces for both Chris Moyles and Jo Whiley.

2000:

Jumps ship and moves to Capital 95.8, where he works with their star presenter Dr Fox.

2002:

Returns to Radio 1 in charge of mainstream programming. Gambles by putting old mate Chris Moyles in the plum breakfast job. Ratings almost immediately rise, although they later slip. With Radio 1 under fierce pressure in a crowded marketplace, and with the growth of music TV, Cooper makes a succession of other changes aimed at focusing on the 15-24 market.

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