Trevor Nelson: My Life in Media

Trevor Nelson, 38, presents Radio 1Xtra's new breakfast show, launching today. He began his career on Kiss FM when it was a pirate station in the 1980s before joining Radio 1 10 years ago. He was appointed MBE for his contribution to the Millennium Volunteers programme. He has two children and lives in London.

What inspired you to embark on a media career?

It came via pirate radio and a love of music. I think your personality gets you there, even if you don't really know it's what you want.

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

I had to be interviewed to get into a grammar school and my headmaster asked me – aged 10 – what was in the news. I knew because I always read the papers. My dad got the Daily Mirror and The Sunday Times.

What were your favourite TV and radio shows?

I was obsessed with Barry Norman's film series. Radio was difficult; I was a big soul and R&B fan and there wasn't a lot on. I listened to Robbie Vincent on BBC Radio London, and Rick Edwards, who was an American-style hype DJ, on Capital Radio.

Describe your job

I've done the longest-running show on MTV in The Lick, for 10 years. Most people hop on and off the channel, but I've stuck with it. On Radio 1, I do a mainstream/specialist show on a Saturday afternoon, which I've done for 10 years. The 1Xtra breakfast show is a massive challenge. I'm really looking forward to it.

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

Half the week I'm DJ-ing, and in Ibiza I go to bed at 7am or 8am so my body clock is different. I listen to Five Live a lot as I love sport and news. I don't think I should wrap myself in music all the time.

Do you consult any media sources during the day?

This is all going to change with the breakfast show as I've been quite lazy up until now. I look at The Independent and flirt with The Guardian. I have to read The Sun, as a lot of my audience do, but I tend to go online for the tabloids.

What is the best thing about your job?

No two days are the same.

And the worst?

I barely have a whole day free. In this game, you have to be available for work at the drop of a hat.

How do you feel you influence the media?

As a black guy who's been around a while, I get called on to give my views. My family is from St Lucia but I was born in Hackney, and I saw people on TV talk about my culture in a way that was totally wrong. There is more black representation in the media now, but we can still improve.

What's your proudest working achievement?

Being on Radio 1, which I grew up listening to. There's something special about it.

And what's your most embarrassing moment?

In my early days at Radio 1, when there was what we called "dead air", we had an Oasis record on standby. If you had more than a fixed number of seconds of dead air the record would kick in, but my show was hip-hop and R&B, so it highlighted my mistake. I did it twice.

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

It's still The Sunday Times. I'm at that stage in life when GQ comes through my door occasionally and I flick through Esquire, but I'm not that impressed by men's magazines. I get Classic Car.

What would you do if you didn't work in the media?

I worked in a shoe shop, but music got me out of that. I've got a place in St Lucia and want to open a sleepy little beach bar on the beach. Money has never motivated me. I've spent time with people like P Diddy and I wouldn't like to live like that, it's too full on.

Name one career ambition you want to realise

I'd love to sit down with Prince and Michael Jackson, and they'd have to answer any question I asked.

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

I have a grudging respect for Jonathan Ross because he revolutionised TV in the 1980s, then disappeared before coming back in spectacular fashion. You've got to admire him for survival in this fickle game.

The 1Xtra Breakfast Show with Trevor Nelson and Zena starts today (weekdays, 8-11am). Trevor Nelson's Radio 1 & 1Xtra simulcast show is on Saturday evenings at 7pm

The CV

1985: First job in music at a record import company; gets involved with pirate radio

1990: Kiss FM is legalised. Nelson was hosting shows alongside Dave Pearce, Judge Jules, Norman Jay, Lisa I'Anson and the ICA director Ekow Eshun

1996: Gets the call from Radio 1; wins an award in the original Mobos

1998: Joins MTV presenting The Lick, the channel's first dedicated R&B show, which has built a fan base in Africa and around the world

2000: Presents first series for the BBC, Trevor Nelson's Urban Choice

2007: Joins 1Xtra breakfast show

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Reach Volunteering: Volunteer Trustee with Management, Communications and Fundraising

Voluntary and unpaid, reasonable expenses are reimbursable: Reach Volunteering...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission, Benefits, OTE £100k: SThree: ...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada