:: Mea Webb
How did you come to work for Radio Sheffield?
It was the early 80's. I'd just left University and I met the then programme organiser of Radio Sheffield at a volunteers fair. I just said "gizza job" (which was a well known catchphrase at the time) – and to my surprise he said yes! I was catapulted into a strange world inhabited by characters like Roger Moffat, Michael Cooke, Winton Cooper and Tony Capstick. There weren't many women. Dinah Maiden was the only woman on-air at the time and there was certainly only one female producer. The world of work did come a bit of a cultural shock in that sense.
Winton Cooper and Michael Cooke, 1980s
Since leaving Radio Sheffield what have you done?
Well I find looking after two children, a partner and a house quite time-consuming but in the odd free moment I've managed to complete a Masters Degree in Multimedia Production and that led me into teaching at Leeds Met University for two years. I combined this with various multimedia corporate training and voiceover work.
Two years ago I took a job with the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Appeal which I now do four days a week. It’s a small busy charity office doing a terrific job of supporting what must be one of Sheffield’s treasures. We are very lucky to have one of the country's finest specialist cancer hospitals right here on our doorsteps.
Proudest moment at Radio Sheffield?
In 17 years there were quite a few – forcing an insurance company to reverse their decision that a bus ploughing into a listener's parked car during a snowstorm was an Act of God – or getting the station back on-air by mending a transmitter with nothing but the penknife on my key ring.
I particularly enjoyed some of the perks broadcasting can bring – like reporting from the tall ship I sailed with, hot air ballooning, watching the WWII planes low-flying over Derwent Dams, and just meeting and interviewing all the thousands of people and being able to talk about the great things that go on in our community. That of course is the beauty of local radio and I'm proud to have been part of it.
What about funny moments?
- Tony Benn once set fire to himself whilst I was interviewing him – he'd tapped his pipe out absent mindedly on his leg and set fire to his trousers.
- I also once had to interview someone naked (me, not them!) It was in the old Turkish Baths on Glossop Road and by the time I'd got my clipboard in one hand and the microphone in the other - my towel fell off. We were on-air, live – what else could I do?
- Meeting Prince Charles and realising he isn't as tall as he seems in photographs and on the TV.
- I was also warned not to wear leather boots whilst interviewing Roger Whittaker - which was slightly alarming.
- And Geoff Boycott took one look at me and said "make us a cup of tea blondie!" He would have got a rude retort had the boss not been standing next to me at the time.
During you time here who was your favourite presenter?
I have two – Tony and Rony. Tony Capstick was a truly funny man who had the ability to make you feel like you were the only person in the room. And on many occasions I was. I co-presented a programme with him for some time and the conversations when the microphone was off were definitely never to be repeated as he described all his antics. He was a genuine, funny and kind man who unfortunately had an illness but no-one that I have worked with could entertain so well with just a pile of records and a microphone.
Rony I admire because he can draw an interesting conversation out of anyone and can really tackle the difficult issues.
Favourite place in South Yorkshire?
I'd be hard pressed to choose between Broomhill and the Porter Valley. Both have really figured greatly for all the 30 years I have lived in Sheffield. I first lived in Broomhill as a student, next door to Radio Sheffield on Westbourne Road. I worked there for almost 17 years and I now work again at Weston Park Hospital in Broomhill. My children go to school here. And apart from the odd student flat, every house I have owned has been adjacent to the Porter Valley which is beautiful, vibrant and a great place to live and walk.
Looking back how would you sum up your Radio Sheffield experience?
As the best thing I could have done at the time. I left University not knowing what I wanted to do. Radio Sheffield gave me a license to go about and poke my nose into almost every walk of life and ask questions. And where else can you get paid to talk to people all day? Sadly I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up but I have now stopped worrying about it!