My Mentor: Ben Jones on Neil Fox
'Foxy always told me just to enjoy myself, because it would come across on radio'
Monday 29 October 2007
Neil Fox is the reason I'm in radio today. I grew up in Bournemouth and even down there we knew that Dr Fox's Surgery on Capital Radio was this cool show from London. I'd get my mum to tune into it as soon as we could if we were driving up. It had this element of gravitas, and it got big guests; I remember Madonna co-hosting one show. It was fast-paced and interactive and it really reflected the capital.
I met Neil when I worked at the now defunct Capital Radio Café, a themed restaurant in Leicester Square. I was at Power FM in Southampton and when they were looking for someone to play records to people eating burgers in London, none of the self-important DJs wanted to, but I took everything I could then. I remember pressing the buttons on New Year's Eve 1997 for Foxy. He was the star and I was just the pimple on the backside of a radio career, but he was charming.
I met him again when I was working on a kids' show at ITV. We went to the Pepsi Chart HQ and did a feature all about Foxy and how the chart was put together.
He always told me just to enjoy myself, because if you enjoy yourself it comes across on the radio. I think one of my good points is you can tell I'm genuinely enthusiastic about my show and I like to think of it as a tribute to Foxy's Surgery.
Radio is a fickle industry and personality broadcasters have a short shelf-life, but Neil was on Capital for the best part of 15 years. As he's got older so have his listeners, and he's reinvented himself and made the transition from pop radio to Magic's breakfast show. My ex-boss Paul Jackson is the son of Richard Park, who gave Foxy his first job at Capital. I think Paul often saw me as his Neil Fox and it's not a bad label – give me 10 years and I'll be snapping at his heels.
Ben Jones presents Virgin Radio's Most Wanted, weeknights at 7pm, and The Album Chart every Saturday at midday. Neil Fox presents Magic's breakfast show, London's biggest commercial breakfast show.
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