Close to my Herts: Steve Folland

Steve Folland, 106 JACK FM DJ, has been waking people up in Hertfordshire for 10 years. He tells Louise McEvoy how he broke into radio, and about his most memorable interview – with Formula 1 driver and former Stevenage resident, Lewis Hamilton...

What did you want to be when you grew up and what was your first job?I always wanted to be a DJ. When I was about eight we had to write our autobiographies at school as if we were in the future. I said I was a DJ and I had run the London Marathon. Technically it was my first job, although I worked as a milkman’s assistant as a teenager.

How did you break into radio?When I was 14 I started on hospital radio in Enfield and a community station in Cuffley, where I grew up. A man heard me then who later set up Hertbeat FM. He phoned as I finished university, said he remembered me and offered me a job. By then I was on the radio down in Bournemouth.

Describe a typical day at work.Get to the studios at 5am and start trawling the papers and picking out the music. Then talk, great tune, talk, great tune, travel, news, great tune…Ooh tea? Thanks very much. Then after the show I listen to new records, plan upcoming promotions and work on production. We also spend a lot of time on Facebook chatting with our audience, a lot of which becomes the next day’s show.

Who stands out from your interviews?Lewis Hamilton when he was a young lad. He came in with his mum and brother and said he was going to be a Formula 1 driver! It shows how much I believed him that I did not keep a copy!

What during your career particularly stands out in your memory and why?One of the hottest summers a few years back. The train tracks were melting so I asked on air ‘why don’t we commute to London by narrow boat?’ By the next morning we had blagged a boat and at 6am I was sailing on the River Lea from Ware. It was brilliant. We only got as far as Broxbourne by 10am, so you would need an understanding boss as you would always be three days late for work!

Are there any downsides to your job?Probably the early start. I am a morning person, but 4am is a bit rude, particularly in the winter. Each January I say ‘I’m never doing another winter’, but then the summer comes and you are spoilt as you are home at noon!

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JACK FM used to be called Hertbeat FM. Why the rebrand?We wanted to stand out and be different. Radio stations are getting very bland, so we found out about the JACK concept and crafted it to Hertfordshire.

When a listener sums up your show, what word do you want to hear?‘Anomalous’. One of them said it. I had to look it up, but they are right.

What is your favourite town in Hertfordshire and why?Bishop’s Stortford. It has lovely green areas, character, thriving shops, restaurants and a market that is great to wander into on a Saturday morning.

How would you spend a perfect day in Hertfordshire?A drive through the country lanes with my beautiful wife Maree, a nice coffee shop, then maybe taking our little boy Fraser to one of the open farms, lunch at a country pub, and a walk through the Great Wood in Cuffley or cycle ride down in Lea Valley Park.

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