Phil Alexander: My Life In Media

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The Independent Online

Phil Alexander, 38, is editor-in-chief of Mojo magazine. He began his career at the age of 15, when he started writing for a French magazine called Enfer ("Hell"). The magazine closed when it was discovered to be a money-laundering operation. He hosted ITV1's Friday night rock trivia show Popped In, Crashed Out and regularly appears on Radio 1's The Rock Show.

Phil Alexander, 38, is editor-in-chief of Mojo magazine. He began his career at the age of 15, when he started writing for a French magazine called Enfer ("Hell"). The magazine closed when it was discovered to be a money-laundering operation. He hosted ITV1's Friday night rock trivia show Popped In, Crashed Out and regularly appears on Radio 1's The Rock Show.

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

I didn't intend to embark on a media career. I was just into music. I picked up a French rock magazine called Enfer while on holiday at my grandmother's. I wrote to them to see if I could subscribe from London and they asked me if I fancied becoming their UK correspondent. I was 15 and fluent in French so that was it. It went from there.

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

My mum and dad got The Guardian but I didn't really read it because I got Sounds every week and scoured that while going to endless gigs advertised therein.

And what were your favourite TV and radio programmes?

TV-wise it was Not The Nine O'Clock News (a problem because my grandfather was living with us for a short while and he watched the Nine O'Clock News, which clashed). Radio-wise, Tommy Vance on Radio 1's The Friday Rock Show and, of course, John Peel.

Describe your job

Talking cobblers about music all day long. Then trying to put that into magazine form.

What media do you turn to first thing in the morning?

My three-year-old son controls the early morning media in our house, so it's Nick Jr, although he's graduated to Power Rangers and Spider-Man recently, so every day starts with a mock-superhero face-off. I always lose.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

Daily papers (Metro on the Tube and anything from The Independent, The Guardian, The Times to the Daily Mirror afterwards). Otherwise it's on-line stuff at irregular intervals, starting with arsenal.com.

What's the best thing about your job?

Hearing new music that excites you. In terms of new acts, the year so far has been defined for me by The Arcade Fire, The Magic Numbers, Trivium, Edgar "Jones" Jones, Death from Above 1979 and Antony and the Johnsons. Then there's the endless excavation of back catalogue.

And the worst?

Not having enough time to listen to more music.

How do you feel you influence the media?

It has never occurred to me that I do. If there's any influence at all, I hope it's just that maybe I get to excite people about music.

What's your most embarrassing moment?

There are too many to mention. Meeting the late blues man Albert Collins in Buenos Aires while one over the eight and referring to him incessantly as "Mr Frosty" springs to mind as one of many faux pas.

At home, what do you tune in to?

I am a promiscuous TV viewer, although I attempt to skirt round my wife and "just check what's going on on Sky Sports" during the ad breaks. And, yes, it drives her mad. Radio-wise, it's Radio Five Live, Sounds of the 60s and Jonathan Ross on Radio 2, 6Music, Mojo Radio and France Inter.

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

I rarely have time to read a Sunday paper. If I get one it's The Sunday Times but I just about get to read the sports pages. Apart from Mojo - which I used to read religiously before editing it - I read loads of music magazines to keep an eye on what people are doing.

Name one career ambition you want to realise before you retire

Obviously I'd love to run the greatest record shop on the planet and invite Little Richard to an in-store. The truth is, though, I'd never let a record leave the shop.

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

Due to my hoarding tendencies - and hence my inability to run the greatest record shop on the planet - it would be better if I just became a historian instead.

Who in the media do you admire and why?

I don't really have media heroes other than the team I work with. As sickening as it may sound, they manage to astound me for very different reasons on a daily basis.

The cv

1990: Becomes editor of 'Raw', a fortnightly rock title. "We wrote about a lot of bands first. People like Rage Against The Machine and Pearl Jam. We even got members of Nirvana and Mudhoney to write for the magazine. That was pretty unique," he says.

1991: Presents ITV's late night rock show, 'Raw Power' - a show "watched by insomniacs and milkmen".

1993: Alexander took over the editorship of 'Kerrang!' magazine

2001: Presents 'Popped In, Crashed Out' on ITV1, which runs for two years.

2003: Becomes editor of 'MOJO'

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