« Previous | Main | Next »

Meet the Team: Xavier Zapata

Post categories:

Xavier Zapata | 10:00 UK time, Tuesday, 22 March 2011

There are times when I think that World Have Your Say has saved me from destitution. Okay that's probably a bit melodramatic. But I graduated into the eye of a financial storm, and as the opportunities dwindled, my dreams of making it as a journalist seemed light-years away. Then I was lucky enough to get work experience on World Have Your Say. I'll never forget the excitement of producing a programme where survivors of the Rwandan genocide discussed the nature of evil with Joseph Fritzl's psychiatrist. So I decided to chain myself to the desk and never leave. Somehow, I got away with it...

Though I was born in Britain, my parents come from Chile. They fled the military coup in the seventies to start a new life here. Because of these roots, I'm fascinated by Latin American stories. It was great to pack the airwaves with Chilean voices during the exhilarating rescue of the miners in Copiapo. One of the most affecting programmes I produced was on the drug war in Mexico. I'm still haunted by some of the people's stories, especially Arturo's testimony, from the border town of Juarez. He said that the trauma of witnessing such widespread violence hasn't fully kicked in yet, and that nobody in the town knows just how scarred they are. I hope we can take the programme to Mexico and reach some of the people we spoke to.

Radio is one of my first loves, and I'm currently combining it with my passion for where I live. I collect the sounds and stories of Hackney in East London, and weave them into a podcast called The Hackney Podcast. But don't worry, I'm not moonlighting. I'm part of a group of radio producers who feel the borough is rippling with life that's just got to be captured on tape. There's no money in it for us, we just do it for the love. It all comes down to being a sound junky, which is why I'm so obsessed with music. I'm into everything from Wu Tang Clan to Rachmaninov, and my best gig has to be Radiohead at Victoria Park in Hackney. That night they walked on water. I play the violin and the piano, but after watching Arcade Fire I think I've got to learn the accordion.

I don't think I've ever laughed so much at work than I do on World Have Your Say. There's something really fun about the culture of the programme. Even when you're really up against it, someone's always got a handy doughnut to keep you going. I've bumped into former WHYS producers around the BBC who refer to the programme as home. It's definitely feeling that way for me. What's there not to love about spending all day talking to you about the news?

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.