My First Job: Neil Fox, Magic DJ and 'Pop Idol' judge, recalls his days as a bin-liner salesman

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The Independent Online

Neil Fox, 44, is the DJ formerly known as "Dr Fox" until his nickname was "struck off" by an executive at Capital Radio during his 18-year stint there. Now he does the Magic 105.4fm breakfast show. Ending up in radio was always his aim but it was going to be a job to convince - outfox, even - his father.

After taking a four-year business studies degree at Bath University, young Neil looked set for a steady day job. Thanks to a business associate of his father, he became a sales management trainee at VMB, a polythene manufacturing company in Worcester; Foilwraps, the parent company in Northampton, was expanding and decided to take on bright new graduate trainees.

The job of young Fox was to sell the millions of bin-liners manufactured by VMB out of surplus plastic. Another use for this polythene was wrappers such as the ones that protect magazines in the post. Then there were the frozen-pea bags, with the appropriately printed label.

"I gave it 100 per cent," he says. "I found it very enjoyable and they were very nice people. The money was good. It was interesting to see in real life the motivation theories I had learned about." He also learnt that when the factory whistle went at the end of the day, the staff went too, as sharply as if they were sprinting out of prison; and the managing director joined in the mass exit.

"This made me think of something a senior guy at a big company once said to my father: 'Most people in most companies, particularly on a shop floor, are in a rut and my job is to make that rut as pleasant as possible.' I realised that can be true at all levels. To find yourself in a job you enjoy, you are in a minority."

While glad of the experience of a "normal" job, Neil had his eye on an abnormal career all the time. When he took the VMB traineeship, Worcester held for him more than its undoubted scenic attractions. It was the home of Radio Wyvern (now Wyvern FM) a small station where he was able to get a foot in the studio door at weekends and evenings. His father was amazed to learn from yet another business associate that the girls in his factory just loved "Foxy's" show.

Even so, Mr Fox Senior was not enthusiastic when his son revealed that he was about to go full time at Radio Wyvern - at half the salary. His 26-year-old son declared that he would be broadcasting on Capital or Radio 1 by the time he was 30 - and indeed he was.

'More Music Breakfast Show': 5.30am-9am on Magic 105.4fm in London and nationally via digital radio, Freeview and Sky

jonty@jonathansale.com

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