As two of the best alarm clocks in Leicester, Jim and Jo talk radio, the city, and life outside the studio.
Jim Davis and Jo Hayward have been waking us up with breakfast radio at BBC Leicester for the past two years. Their entertaining presenting has picked us up on those Monday morning commutes to work, made us snort our cuppa with laughter and given us that extra skip in our step in the morning.
As I stepped in to the office that very morning having listened to their show I was over the moon to be meeting the pair that accompanies my morning routine. Although I felt I knew them relatively well already without having met them I got to sit down with Jim and Jo and talk about why they love radio and Leicester.
Jo was brought up in the large town of Dudley, but has been living and working in Leicester since she began her studies in English at the University of Leicester in 1989.
Whilst being a student, Jo began working on the sports desk at weekends for BBC Radio Leicester before moving to Cornwall for a year to achieve her journalism accreditation. Once Jo graduated she made a U-turn and returned to the radio station where she has been ever since. During her time in Leicestershire Jo has also worked in TV for East Midlands Today as a reporter and also for National News in production whilst raising her two teenage sons.
Jim on the other hand was born in Johannesburg and has spent a great deal of his life travelling the globe for both work and pleasure. Jim moved to the Midlands 15 years ago where he began working for Century FM, Heart, LBC in London and then made the move to BBC Radio Leicester five years ago. Alongside his radio presenting Jim also does voice overs for various TV, radio and online campaigns, as well as presenting the news for BBC East Midlands, reporting for BBC Inside Out and was the weekend voice on ITV for four years introducing shows such as The X Factor and I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.
When I asked them both what brought them into the world of journalism and broadcast they had this to say: “I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was seven, I used to write my own newspapers and always wanted to fall into that but broadcasting came along. I love writing, I love reading and I love words, but I’m a bit of a performer (she laughs) but there was never any doubt what I wanted to do with my life,” said Jo.
Jim responded: “Radio came first for me, then presenting and broadcasting and I sort of moved into journalism as my career evolved. I love telling people stories, that is why I am doing it.”
Jim is quite the jet-setter and spends whatever time off he gets travelling the world, so I was intrigued as to why the South African born presenter has settled in Leicester: “I want to be an ambassador for Leicester; I want everybody to know about this incredible place! All the best stories come from here, this is a news patch and other than London it is the most exciting place I have worked regarding the quality of stories based on how interesting they are and the diversity of them. This city has always stood out for me.”
The love for Leicester seemed to be contagious, and alike Jim, Jo marvelled at the cultural richness of our city: “I have never really wanted to live anywhere else, its home now! There is a total unpretentiousness about Leicester, the city has great modesty and that is what we love about it!”
The pair certainly spark off of one another, and it was clear to see why they get on so well, but I was intrigued to know how they became a radio item: “We just worked! Between us we just knew that we had the right chemistry, it was obvious just from our chats in the office. One thing you can’t do on the radio is be fake, we are on air for four hours a day – you just have to be yourself! The relationship has to be real, the stories have to be real, the chemistry has to be real and with us it certainly works,” said Jim.
Being sat in a small-contained studio for four hours each day must be tough on their friendship you would feel, but it seems these two are quite the chuckle brother act: “The first thing we do is laugh, you have to enjoy someone’s company if you are to be locked in a room with them for hours. We take each other as we find one another, if we are in a bad mood we will tell each other, there are no bad graces between us we are honest and fun!” they both explained as they finished each others sentences off like a married couple.
Jim: “I see her more than her husband does (both in fits of giggles).”
Jo: “Jim is my radio husband, that’s what I call him, and my husband calls him the same!”
A chorus of laughter filled the room as we discussed some of the breakfast hosts favourite moments on air together, an array of people they have interviewed, and a number of events they have covered, but it was that memorable Children In Need dancing video that stays as rather a distinct memory for the pair.
However, its not always fun and laughter in the studio, and of course when there are harrowing news stories in Leicester to report Jim and Jo are often the voices that reach us first, but it is with their calm nature and empathy that we seek comfort in their story telling.
So what should we be expecting from the show in the future? It was clear that both Jim and Jo are eager to bring their breakfast show to the local people: “We are taking the show on the road over the next few months. We are going to try and get out every Friday to visit local towns so that people can come and speak with us and tell us their stories – we are very much looking forward to this!” said Jo.
Breaking into the media industry is never easy, and both Jim and Jo worked tirelessly to get to where they are today. For those of you who are thinking of stepping into broadcast or a realm of journalism I will leave you with some words of encouragement and advice from the breakfast hosts.
Jim: Ask questions…ask good questions. Listen carefully to the answers as that is key, it has to be a story worth sharing. It’s competitive but if you come up with good stories and show willing you will stand out.
Jo: Always be looking for a story, you can find a story wherever you go. I feel that a good story is one that makes your listeners go ‘Oooo’ – and that story could be anything.
By Imogen Harry