Simon Mayo: BBC Radio 2 star interviewed by School Reporters

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Simon Mayo usually asks the questions

BBC Radio 2 presenter Simon Mayo has carried out thousands of interviews in a broadcasting career which has also taken in Radio 1 and BBC Radio 5 live.

But the 56-year-old, who has also released a series of children's books, was on the receiving end for once when he visited Sibford School in Oxfordshire, with School Reporters Nat and Fergus asking the questions.

Q: Have you always wanted to be in radio?

A: Yes is the answer to that. I always thought I wanted to work in radio, but maybe as a studio manager - to be in charge of the sound balance and so on but I failed the hearing test, so I had to re-think the whole thing. I went into local radio and then started presenting and realised that that's what I wanted to do.

Q: What's the most difficult challenges you are presented with when doing live radio?

A: The most difficult time is probably when you are interviewing someone who doesn't want to be interviewed. Actors sign on and they have to do promotion, but a lot of them don't want to do promotion, so they come over very badly and I want to throttle them!

Nat on 'interviewing the interviewer':
"When the time came to interview him I was actually very nervous; I suspect what I was worried about was that he is such an experienced interviewer that he would see my flaws when I was asking him questions. If I could go back and do anything better I would not have frozen at the end of the interview, and said '"This is Fergus and Nat reporting from Sibford School for BBC School Report' instead of just saying 'Thank you for joining us'!"

Q: You have a confessions feature, which is very popular. Do you have any confessions to share?

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Image caption Mayo admits to not recognising Naomi Campbell when she delivered a birthday cake to the studio

A: This is a mild confession really: on my birthday my producer had arranged for the supermodel Naomi Campbell to come in with a birthday cake.

When she came in I wasn't sure who she was. I was live on the radio and my producer (the idiot), never said 'it's Naomi Campbell' until about five minutes later. That was sort of embarrassing, and I had to apologise to her afterwards. I don't think that would get on air on the show!

Q: Have you been surprised by the success of your books?

A: I set out to write it for my son, and it was only because he liked it that I thought maybe other people would like it. If you told me there was going to be three books, I would have been very surprised.

Q: When you were writing the books, did you ever struggle with writer's block?

A: Not writer's block as much as it is conventionally understood which is people saying 'I can't write anything'. There are many days were two paragraphs is all you're going to get. So it wasn't writer's block in that I couldn't think of anything to write, but sometimes it is a lot slower then what it should be.

Fergus on meeting 'the man behind the mic'
"I joined the School Report club thinking we would just be writing and filming news reports and then posting them on the website. Imagine my surprise when I discovered I'd also get the chance to interview the DJ who I listen to on my journey home from school! Although nervous, I really enjoyed getting to miss a lesson, meet Simon Mayo and ask him interesting questions. My favourite moment was when he answered the question about his confession. I even believed him, at first, when he told us didn't have a confession because he'd never done anything bad before!"

Q: Do you have a favourite time to write?

A: Because my radio show is in the afternoon, I always try to do writing in the morning. I used to try to work in the morning and write a thousand words a day but that doesn't really work anymore. So now, I write any time, all the time, wherever I can find a space.

Q: Now you have become a successful author, what advice would you give to people aspiring to be authors?

A: The conventional advice is probably the best advice. That is to read as much as you possibly can. Read stuff you know you like, you think you might like and just expand the sort of stuff you are reading.

I think of it as input and output; the more stuff that comes in, the more you have got going around in your head and the more creative your story will become.

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Image caption Taylor Swift removed her entire catalogue off Spotify while promoting her new album

Q: The music industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years, with music streaming. Is it a good thing for the music industry and musicians?

A: It doesn't really matter if it is a good thing, it is a thing and it is happening and the whole of music and the whole of radio has to adapt and move on and change. I think radio almost has to become like a live streaming service anyway.

Whether it is good or bad, some people will benefit and some people won't, but it is the future so they have to adapt really or get left behind.

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