My Life In Media: Lesley Douglas

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The Independent Online

Lesley Douglas, 41, has been controller of BBC Radio 2 since January. Born in Newcastle and a graduate in English from the University of Manchester, she is a fellow of the Radio Academy and has twice chaired the Radio Festival Steering Committee. She has two children aged two and five.

What inspired you to embark on a career in the media?

The Holiday programme, because it always looked like a free trip, though now I realise that it's hard work. And as a teenager, I spent all my money on concerts and records, so music radio seemed like a dream come true.

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

The Daily Mail and the Newcastle Evening Chronicle - I was obsessed by Sunderland FC, so read all the sports pages. But to be honest, at 15, I found other things to do than read a paper!

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

Happy Days and Starsky & Hutch on TV. James Whale on Metro Radio, and Noel Edmonds on Radio 1.

What is the best thing about your job?

Working with people far more talented than me, and getting to go to the pub with them.

And the worst?

Saying no to people.

What's the first media you turn to in the mornings?

Radio 2, followed by 6 Music, then 15 minutes of Today, then back to Radio 2. I don't watch TV in the morning, but I check the headlines as I wait for my train, varying the newspaper every day. And I like to read books on the train - Peter Ackroyd, Julian Barnes, Iain Banks (though not his science fiction).

Do you consult any media sources during the working day?

Music Week and Media Week online, and 24-hour news. I like the red-button news on BBC and Sky - I have young kids and don't exactly work nine to five, so I want the news when it suits me.

What's the proudest achievement in your working life?

Being part of the team that launched a brand new radio station - 6 Music - from scratch. Also, though I'm not sure it's an achievement, meeting Bruce Springsteen and George Michael!

And your most embarrassing moment?

I've spent a career keeping quiet about my embarrassing moments (note the plural) - I'd quite like to keep my job.

At home, what do you tune in to?

TV is dictated by Sky+ as I watch nothing live. I watch EastEnders and Coronation Street, The Sopranos and 24. At the moment, I'm really into Jonathan Miller's Brief History of Disbelief on BBC4. On the radio, I listen to Tom Robinson on 6 Music to get me going, and Mark Radcliffe on Radio 2 to take me to bed.

What Sunday paper do you read? And do you have a favourite magazine?

Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends - yes, my life is that sad. I read most of the Sunday papers across the week.

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

Just to survive with a career through to retirement would be nice (see 'embarrassing moments').

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

Bruce Springsteen's... anything.

Who are your best friends in the media?

Gary Farrow of Sony BMG tells me he is, and John Myers of the Guardian Media Group.

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

Terry Wogan - the broadcaster of his generation, and one of the nicest, most amusing people I've ever met. And Tim Blackmore of Unique Broadcasting, who has been generous with his time and advice throughout my career.


1986: Joins the BBC as a production assistant in the research department.

1988: Joins the music department as a producer working on the Gloria Hunniford, David Jacobs and Ken Bruce shows, as well as Brian Matthew's Round Midnight and The Pleasure's Yours on the BBC World Service.

1993: Moves to Radio 2 as editor, presentation and planning.

1997: Becomes managing editor of Radio 2.

2000: Appointed head of programmes at Radio 2. She is credited with helping make it the most popular station in the UK in 2001, with more than 13 million listeners.

2002: Launches BBC digital radio station 6 Music.

2004: Takes over as controller, Radio 2 and 6 Music. She has since captured Channel 4's Dermot O'Leary, Radio 1 exile Mark Radcliffe, and actor Brad Pitt to present a documentary about Nick Drake.