Friday, 2 April 2010

Radio Sheffield

I arrive at Radio Sheffield to be interviewed by the legendary presenter, Rony Robinson.

The car park is empty and the lights in reception are off. I ring a bell by an intercom. It rings loudly for several minutes, then stops. I call the number of the radio producer and find myself listening to a recorded message about station opening hours.

I ring the intercom once more and am buzzed in by a bright-eyed production assistant who takes me to the waiting area.

Also in the waiting area are two people who are on-air before me. One of them, a sociologist, tells me that she is often on the programme to talk about equality issues.

“Are you a serial offender too?” I asked the person sitting with her.

It was perhaps not the most subtle of questions, as it turns out he has spent several years in prison.

When my turn comes, I am ushered into a studio to be greeted by Rony. He reminds me of John Peel, not just in the way he looks – close-cut greying beard and comfy cardigan – his voice too; has the warm gruffness that Peel had and he also shares that favourite uncle demeanour.

Seconds before we go on air, Rony says he wants to start by asking about my life’s turning point. I say it’s probably the moment that I discovered that my great grandfather’s secret family. “Okay, excellent,” he says and moves closer to the microphone as Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain comes towards the end.

“Or the moment when I set off on my trip,” I add.

He nods, his finger raised to indicate that he’s about to speak on-air.

Or the moment I return to Mexico with my grandmother, I want to add. They’re all turning points. You could argue that every day has its pivotal moments.

But by now he is in full flow, talking about how a son of Sheffield (that’s me) had come to be in the middle of Mexico. “Was this your life’s turning point?”

I say it was, and decide not to mention the dozens of others that I have thought of in the last few seconds.

We move on from turning points and I tell the story, Rony interrupting only to drum on the desk in excitement when I get to the part about meeting Tío Arturo for the first time.

The interview over, I head off to Sheffield Live! It’s a community station, the only one I have ever been to with an exclamation mark in its name. It’s also the only interview I have done that has started with the interviewer telling me how weird I am for not drinking tea or coffee.

Another of life’s pivotal moments? I wonder to myself.

It appears not, so I tell my story.

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