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24 September 2014
Radio Cumbria

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Martin Lewes

Martin Lewes

What jobs do you do in the newsroom?
I don't work in the main newsroom. I'm the Kendal reporter, which means I work - alone most of the time - making sure anything happening within about 20 miles of Kendal which deserves to be reflected on some part of the BBC gets there. Usually this is BBC Radio Cumbria - but it's often also north west regional television, and on occasion, national radio or TV. I also look after the Kendal studio - although I'm not very good at keeping it tidy - sometimes represent the BBC by giving talks to local groups, assist listeners with general inquiries about Radio Cumbria or the rest of the BBC, and try to be reassuring when local television transmitters break down!

What's the most exciting/biggest news story you've ever covered?
I was reading the news on the night of the Lockerbie atrocity - but in terms of actually being there and covering the story, it's hard to choose. Foot and mouth left its memories, as did most recently the Morecambe Bay tragedy. But the long-running stories, like the controversy over a 10 miles an hour speed limit on Windermere, are one of the reasons I stayed a local reporter, following issues over the years. And smaller stories - like the invention of abseiling on bicycles by a local group - can be equally exciting in their own way!

Which famous/well-known people have you spoken to during your career?
John Major, John Prescott, Michael Heseltine, and one or two TV stars like Clarrie Dixon Wright and Ben Fogle. But I prefer to see my job as making people famous!

How did you get into radio?
I was freelancing after leaving a job as Editor of the North West Evening Mail in Barrow, most of my work was for BBC Radio Cumbria, and after three months the station offered me a job. Good thing too - the money was running out. More than fifteen years on, I think the letters BBC now run through me like Blackpool in rock.

Where was your first broadcast?
I can't really remember - but I've a suspicion it was a news report about Ulverston Town Council.

Where else have you worked?
I spent six years in Barrow on the Evening Mail, working my way up as a production journalist, putting the newspaper together rather than reporting. Before that, I trained as a reporter at Redditch in the Midlands.

What other jobs have you done besides broadcasting?
In and around a slightly irregular education, I drove light trucks and vans all over the Midlands and the south of England.

What are your local connections?
None, apart from a few distant ancestors buried in Egremont churchyard.

What would you be if you weren't a journalist?
Unemployed - or a truck driver.

What would listeners be surprised to learn about you?
My beard or my age seem to be the main surprise when we meet.

What do you do when you're not broadcasting?
With between two and four children in the house depending on who's home, I'm kept pretty busy. If I get a chance I play tennis, or ride my bike or walk around Sedbergh.

Other information?
Working for the BBC gave me the opportunity to train broadcasters in formerly communist countries in the skills they need to work in a democracy. I spent three months in central Russia, which was very cold but wonderful fun, and three months in Bosnia, which was also fun some of the time, always interesting and often depressing - it is very sad to be surrounded by so much destruction, fear and hate, and to know that they'll spend generations repairing the damage of a couple of years of madness. After years of wondering what it would be like to be a war correspondent, it convinced me - even though the bullets were no longer flying - that I would crack up if sent to cover such conflict.

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Contact details.

BBC Radio Cumbria
Annetwell Street,
Cumbria. CA3 8BB

Telephone: 01228 592444
Phone-ins: 01228 592592
Fax: 01228 640079

Textphone (for the hearing impaired): 01228 525946

Action Desk:
0845 300 77 99


Editor: Nigel Dyson

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