Great news for Drive
Amid all the helter-skelter activity on the production desk as the team strived to get Drive on air last night, a sudden and spontaneous round of applause broke out. Peter Allen had just walked into the newsroom. Now, greatly though we cherish our presenters, it's not normal practice for Peter's entry to provoke such enthusiastic acclamation. But yesterday was a bit special - Peter was clutching the trophy he'd received for being named Broadcasting Journalist of the Year by the London Press Club.
It gave us all a good opportunity to pay tribute to a man who has been a central part of the 5 live team since our first day on air back in 1994. Peter has contributed enormously to the station's achievements over the years, and as his current editor on Drive, I'm hugely grateful that he continues to play a big part in our news service. Every programme we make reflects in some way Peter's journalistic insight and judgement. And if you think he's good at asking the hard question on air, let me tell you that every Drive producer will be familiar with Peter approaching them about an upcoming interview to quiz them on their understanding of the story with a very direct: "Why are we doing this?"
I know that Peter particularly values this award, because it comes from his fellow journalists. At heart, he's a hack who's happiest when he's pursuing a good story with the rest of the Fleet Street pack. But Peter also values the interactive relationship he has each afternoon with the Drive audience. So thank you for the kind messages you sent to him. And for those emails and texts that gently teased him, such as: "Congrats to Peter on his award. I assume he is off today to give the BBC time to widen the studio doorways so he can get his head through?"
Actually, the one thing we didn't give him was time to rest on his laurels. My job as editor was to tell him he'd need to be on the first train to Birmingham this morning ready to spend the day on the road travelling with David Cameron. At which point, Peter realised the celebrations were over - and he was back chasing the next big interview.
And while we're on the subject of award winners, congratulations are also due to Aasmah Mir. Gay Life After Saddam, a documentary she presented on 5 live, has won the Radio Programme of the Year Award at this year's How-Do North West Media Awards . The programme was made by an independent producer, Made in Manchester Productions, so the Drive team takes no credit for this one. We merely bask in the reflected glory of having the skills of both of our presenters recognised in one week.
John Cary is the editor of 5 live Drive
- Drive is on 5 live weekdays from 4pm - 7pm