BBC Radio 5 live arrives in Sheffield today for Octoberfest 2012, three days of live broadcasts and events across the city, involving some of the station’s biggest names and a few guest stars.
Prominent among them is Shelagh Fogarty, something of a 5 live stalwart, having joined in 1999, since when she has presented Drive, Breakfast, Late Night Live and the Sunday Service.
She now anchors the weekday mid-day slot from noon to 2pm where on Friday she will be hosting a one-off special with Nick Clegg when the Deputy Prime Minister, leader of the Liberal Democrats and MP for Sheffield Hallam will face questions from 5 live listeners and a live audience about the coalition government.
Fogarty is used to the rough and tumble of political debate on her Wednesday show coinciding with Prime Minister’s Question Time and says she’s occasionally had to intervene when things have become a little heated. “There’s nothing worse than when you have voices talking over each other.”
She wonders what sort of reception Nick Clegg will receive. Although it’s his home turf, she is mindful that he takes more than his fair share of the flak. “The one thing I will not tolerate is rudeness,” she says. “I can play the stern school marm if necessary.”
Outside broadcasts are something Fogarty has plenty of experience of too including stints at Wimbledon and the Paralympics during the summer or being in Dublin when the station did a Eurozone special.
“This is slightly different as I will be inside with John Pienaar and Nick Clegg in front of a live audience of 200 people and it has the elements of interview,” she says. “It will mostly be questioning from the audience but I will be responsible for the ebb and flow. Sometimes it’s necessary to change gear.
Fogarty looks back fondly on a four-month reporting attachment at Radio Sheffield in the early days of her career in 1990. “The city has changed and I expect Tilly’s tearoom at Hunter’s Bar where I would retreat to every day from the station up in Broomhill isn’t there any more.” It doesn’t, it’s now Taste.
“I remember it as a fun time and it includes one of my top five favourite career memories,” she continues.
I was the late reporter for the next day’s breakfast show and they sent me to the then fairly-new Meadowhall to cover a personal appearance by Omar Sharif who was launching a perfume.
The idea was I would do a voxpop of all the housewives from Sheffield and Rotherham queuing to see Dr Zhivago.
“One woman grabbed me by the hand and said she was desperate to meet him – ‘I have been longing to all my life, please, please help me meet him’. Anyway I ended up taking her in to the press reception. I told her you mustn’t behave like a fan, I will say you are a colleague. Anyway the time came when I went to interview him and she suddenly sprang forward with a camera and took his picture and then insisted on having her picture taken with him.
“As usual with these things he didn’t seem to mind and was very sweet, but the PR people were a bit put out. Anyway a few days later a parcel came to Radio Sheffield for me with all the pictures. So I have photographic evidence.”
In her broadcasting career there have been few disastrous interviews, she says, but does have a tale to tell of an encounter with the King of Sweden at the World Scout Jamboree in Essex which beforehand entailed a crash course in the etiquette of addressing Swedish royalty.
“They told me you had to address all questions in the third person which sounded like something out of Anne and the King of Siam,” she recalls, “I decided it would be best to go along with it for the first question and then have a conversation with a human being after that.”
Thus she began: “So, the King of Sweden - Chairman of the World Scout Foundation – when did that happen? He answered he had been a Scout since he was a young boy and then my next question was a normal one and he visibly bristled and I bristled right back. After about three minutes I was told to stop. I have met our Queen and she doesn’t expect that sort of treatment. I thought Scandinavian royals were supposed to be liberal and I thought, where’s your bike? “