In the year that BBC Local Radio celebrates 50 years on-air, Andrew Peach is celebrating exactly half that. He’s been at BBC Radio Berkshire since 1992 and shares his journey with us.
“I was always fascinated by radio and television and when I was growing up in Bloxwich in the West Midlands and thought I might end up as a TV cameraman or director. Then in 1989 I won a competition on Radio WM to spend a few days in Cologne compiling radio reports about life in Germany.
I loved it and from that moment on was absolutely determined that talk radio would be my career. So I got involved in BHBN Hospital Radio in Birmingham and as well as collecting requests on the wards was soon interviewing leading politicians like John Smith, Chris Patten and Paddy Ashdown on my Sunday night show before going back to school the next morning.
When I moved to Oxford to study Modern History at St Edmund Hall, I was determined to get involved at the BBC. I used to leave college with the rowers at 5am but while they were off to the river, I was off to learn the art of breakfast travel news from Kate Garraway. When she left, I got the gig and a few months later I presented my first Saturday Breakfast Show on Radio Oxford and Radio Berkshire on 10th October 1992.
Twenty-five years on, I’m still broadcasting on BBC Radio Berkshire six days a week. There have been too many joyous moments to mention: three royal weddings and Reading FC’s promotion to the Premier League in 2006. There have been the most serious of news stories: the Ufton Nervet Rail Crash in 2004 and the severe flooding which affected villages like Datchet and Wraysbury in 2014 when we were able to put local people on air with cabinet ministers and make a real difference to the government’s response.
There have been politicians from the UKIP councillor who blamed the flooding on gay marriage to the Prime Minister who came on the show last week to say that, as a Berkshire MP for the last twenty years, I have probably interviewed her more times than anyone else.
I still can’t quite believe I was on the same shortlist as Lord Bragg and Sir David Attenborough at the Sony Radio Awards… but of course there have been many moments which haven’t gone according to plan: presenting for half an hour from a payphone in the foyer of Tesco in Newbury with queue of people behind me waiting to use it, having got lost on the way to an outside broadcast will never leave me.
It’s been my good fortune to combine my daily show with many opportunities around the BBC from reading the news on the Chris Evans Breakfast Show to presenting on Radio 4 and 5 live, but there is nowhere that has the same connection with listeners that BBC Local Radio enjoys.
It’s a special privilege to have become part of people’s morning routine over the years and I love it every bit as much now as I did a quarter of a century ago.”
This article first appeared in eRADIO – the weekly ezine for the radio industry. Subscribe to future editions here.