My Mentor: Martha Kearney on Vivien Fowle, Head Of News Information at LBC Radio

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The Independent Online

My first job in broadcasting was at LBC News radio, which in the early 1980s ran from offices in Gough Square, just behind Fleet Street. After university, I hadn't had much luck in finding work. I couldn't get an interview at the BBC, and pretty well every commercial radio station had turned me down. That was why I so appreciated Vivien Fowle's encouragement.

My first job in broadcasting was at LBC News radio, which in the early 1980s ran from offices in Gough Square, just behind Fleet Street. After university, I hadn't had much luck in finding work. I couldn't get an interview at the BBC, and pretty well every commercial radio station had turned me down. That was why I so appreciated Vivien Fowle's encouragement.

I had heard about shifts going as an operator on a phone-in called Nightline on LBC. The station was anarchic. A favoured lunch spot was the Newspaper Workers Club (no women in the evenings), or the unmarked Dive Bar, in a Fleet Street basement, with a particularly pungent urinal. Cricket was played with rolled-up paper balls in the newsroom, and it was dodgy going into the master control room as porn videos would be playing on the monitors.

There was an oasis of calm and civilisation - News Information - under the aegis of Vivien Fowle. After paying my dues on the phone-in, I graduated to News Information. Vivien was the perfect boss, with the kind of patience I have rarely encountered since. She also managed to ensure that LBC punched well above its weight.

Vivien's job included booking celebrities and authors. Because she was so well respected by publishers and publicists, she would get some amazing guests. I remember we all pressed our noses to the window to see Jack Nicholson stroll into Gough Square. I met Muhammad Ali by the tea machine.

Vivien was my mentor because she was so encouraging to everyone. She still organises reunions of her "News Inf babies". She started me off on a broadcasting career and proved that the media wasn't the terrifying macho world I had supposed.

Martha Kearney is political editor of BBC2's Newsnight

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