Question Time: Stuart Maconie

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The Independent Online

Work: Journalist and author, he co-presents 'The Radcliffe and Maconie Show' on BBC Radio 2

Life: 47, lives in Manchester and the Midlands, married with step-children

Balance: Fell walking in the Lake District

What has been your career high?

I suppose it would be meeting people whose records mean so much to me, like Morrissey and Paul McCartney. It's a chance to meet people who as a kid I listened to and who inspired me to do what I do.

What has been your career low?

I worked as planner in an office in Bolton which was full of Queen fans, and it was depressing beyond belief. The people were awful, the job was awful and I couldn't wait to get away.

What was your big break?

I sent an unsolicited review to the NME because I'd heard that they read them – that turned out to be a lie – but fortunately James Brown (who later set up Loaded) worked there. He rang me and said "I like your review – do you want to come and work at the NME?" If he'd not opened the mail that morning my life could have turned out differently.

What's your biggest on-air gaff?

When I was working for Radio 1 there was a terrible Baltic ferry disaster. I didn't realise I had my fader on while the news was going out and I played "The New Pollution" by Beck, the one that starts "doo doo, di doo doo..." right in the middle of the broadcast when someone was saying: "It's now feared 600 have drowned in the Baltic....doo doo, di doo doo". It was a horrifying moment.

What are the best aspects of your job?

Being paid to do something you absolutely love to do.

Do you prefer writing or presenting?

They are two quite particular pleasures. Presenting I love because I like to think on my feet. Writing you can do anywhere, which is a joy, and at any time. It is much more of a craft.

What are your desert island media?

The IT Crowd, anything with David Morrissey in it, Word magazine and an American current affairs radio show, "To The Point", which I listen to on National Public Radio on the net.

Stuart Maconie is nominated for three Awards at the Sony Radio Academy Awards on Monday 11 May.