Question Time: Helen Mayhew


Work: Pirate radio while at university in Exeter, BBC local radio, then Jazz FM for 14 years. Joined BBC Radio 2 and 3 in 2004 for The Helen Mayhew Programme, Big Band Special, Jazz Line. Joining new digital radio station JazzFm on 1 July to present four jazz shows a week.



Life: Single, 49, lives in Buckinghamshire



Balance: It’s brilliant, I’m combining work with my passion, which is jazz

What got you first interested in Jazz?

It must have been the voice of Billie Holiday, I can’t remember when.

How does the UK Jazz scene compare with the rest of the World?

We have an incredibly vibrant and creative scene at the moment, with a constant stream of talented young musicians, alongside plenty of veterans turning out music of a consistently high quality. Our main problem is getting it into the ears of an audience, which is where Jazz Fm Digital Radio comes in.

Does Jazz have an 'old man' image problem?

It has suffered from that in the past. Jazz is such exciting and beautiful music, and it covers a broad spectrum of styles, so there is plenty of room for it all to be heard; the lunchtime traditional jazz gig, cutting edge new music, mainstream and dancefloor jazz. In my Sunday afternoon programme I’ll be presenting a weekly guide to jazz around the UK.

Your 'dinner Jazz' show helps people unwind after a trying day - how do you unwind?

With a nice cup of tea and by playing the piano. I’ve just started learning and I love it, even practising scales.

If you had to recommend one Jazz album that everyone should have, what would it be?

No contest, Kind Of Blue by Miles Davis, recorded 50 years ago this year and mesmerising from start to finish.

Why are there not more female broadcasters on the radio?

You’ll have to ask the radio bosses that question, I have no idea why.

What are your desert island media?

Jazz Fm Digital Radio, Jazzwise magazine and a box set of The Sopranos.

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