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Jim Lee

If you were to ask Jim Lee, he'd readily tell you that it's appropriate that he's ended up working on Radio 7 as he was involved in the very first BBC DAB test transmissions back in the mid 90's. (It wasn't for his encyclopaedic knowledge that the BBC appointed him to look after a series of four hour jazz programmes, five nights a week from Pebble Mill, but because he was about to be made redundant, and going spare.)

These days Jim's recognizable as an announcer and news reader on Radio 4, the World Service and still occasionally goes back to his local radio roots. A media tart if ever there was one.

The path to Radio 7 began about 30 years ago.

After leaving King Edward VI Grammar School in Nuneaton and having no academic ambitions he worked for two years in a bank. Secretly he wanted to work on radio, having been attracted by the sixties radio pirates but the industry was in its infancy then and he hadn't got a clue how to find a way in. However those two years in the bank were enough to motivate him finally to go to college - or anywhere really that wasn't a bank.

The next few years were spent allegedly studying Business at Liverpool Polytechnic followed by a spell in industry before he came across hospital radio. It was there in 1980 that he was "discovered" by one of the team setting up the new commercial radio station for Coventry and Warwickshire, Mercia Sound. There he produced and presented nearly every programme on the schedule before settling into a "social action" producer role.

In 1989 Jim was approached by the BBC to set up a social action unit at the forthcoming BBC CWR. As well as fulfilling a management role there, and because it didn't cost them any extra, he also spent a lot of time on air. For about 18 months he presented the afternoon show from a shop window in a local shopping centre and then spent two years on the Breakfast Show. Good practice for the silly hours he keeps these days.

When the BBC decided to merge CWR with their Birmingham based BBC WM, redundancy appeared on the horizon. That was postponed for a couple of years with temporary postings in London running the BBC's first ever Audio on Demand Trial, and at Pebble Mill on regional Radio and Television including that spell on the aforementioned DAB Jazz pilot.

However redundancy was never far away and in 1997 on the day Tony Blair walked into Downing Street, Jim left the BBC. Nothing personal Tony. Proving that there is life after redundancy he soon landed a freelance position with Radio 4 although initially he doubted they would even consider employing someone with flat Nuneaton vowels! Those vowels have sparked the odd complaint but he's used to it now and even quite proud of Michael Buerk's description of him as Radio 4's "bit of rough!"

In an act of desperation Radio 7 asked him to help with their dummy runs prior to opening in December 2002. Feeling guilty they felt they had to give him the opportunity to host the Sunday schedule, and media tart that he is, he was delighted to accept.

Jim still lives in the Nuneaton area but regularly travels to London for work. Altogether it means that he has little time to follow his supposed interests in painting, learning languages and tinkering with radio sets.

Presenters on BBC Radio 7

  • Jim Lee
  • Penny Haslam
  • Joanna Pinnock
  • Kerry McCarthy
  • Helen Aitken
  • Michaela Saunders
  • Alex Riley
  • Phil Williams
  • Nick Briggs

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