October 11, 2004
Jo-Anne Nadler finds that she is better qualified than she had realised

I have been reading Jo-Anne Nadler's Too Nice to be a Tory, which is an autobiographical essay about the predicament of … well, it's obvious. Here is how she describes (pp. 91-92) that portentous moment when, fresh out of York University, she goes back to London and gets her first proper job.

JoAnneNadler.jpg'How would you win back the audience we've lost to Capital Radio?'

It was the clincher question in my third and final round of interviews for a job as a trainee producer with Radio 1. Resting on my answer was the prospect of a fairly swanky opening straight out of college. I was shifting nervously, feeling rather sweaty, considering my response. My interrogator was one of three facing me in a deliberately intimidating configuration beloved of the BBC. He went on, 'You know the type, the skilled working class around the outskirts of the M25, out every Friday night at the Epping Forest Country Club, drives a Cortina, furry dice in the back of the car, but it's always independent radio tuned in at the front. What are we going to do about it?'

'Play more Luther Vandross!'

It seemed the obvious answer. It was certainly true that Essex Man liked soul music, of which London's independent station Capital Radio played a lot, while Radio 1 was wall-to-wall Phil Collins, Eric Clapton and the Travelling Wilburys. While I had been a temporarily displaced Londoner myself it had always been a blessed relief to hit Elstree at the bottom of the A1 on the drive home from York. Here was the chance to tune out of Radio 1 and the dirge of ageing hippy rockers and into loud, brash 'dancey' Capital. It was the sign that I was home, in radio terms back in the land of the living. Unsurprisingly I did not add that observation in my response just as I had not played up my YC past when outlining my suitability for the job. Whatever the reality it hardly spelt sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.

I had applied for the job during my final term at university almost as a joke but, without trying, I had apparently obtained the necessary qualifications; an encyclopaedic knowledge of pop music, I had run the campus radio station, I was articulate, ambitious and female – which had marked me out among the applicants. And so, to my great surprise, I was in.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 10:29 PM
Category: Examinations and qualificationsRelevance