Paul Rowley is leaving the BBC this weekend after more than 47 years of journalism.
Since 1994 Rowley has been the political correspondent for BBC Local Radio in Westminster, having done the same job at Independent Radio News for twenty years in commercial broadcasting and newspapers.
He began his radio career in 1974 at Radio City in Merseyside, joining as a presenter and switching to current affairs and politics reporting.
Paul joined IRN in 1989 as a political correspondent and also worked at LBC as a presenter. In 1994, he joined the BBC and worked on Radio 4, 5 Live and TV.
“It’s going to be a bit of a culture shock for me,” Rowley says. “I’ve been used to getting up early most mornings for several decades and talking to myself nonstop… with millions of listeners across the country.
“I was one of the first people at the BBC to receive a home ISDN unit, which allowed me to broadcast live in perfect broadcast quality on about half of our 40 stations each morning, usually during 5 minutes at a time. to return to. Most years, I do between three and four thousand broadcasts from my reception hall, so during my time at the company, I think I’m not far from hitting the 100,000 mark.
“My record for a single day was 91 round trips in November 2004 during a report from Washington on the US presidential election. It surpassed my previous personal best of 78 in the 2000 US election. My first BBC boss, Mark Byford, who later became the company’s deputy managing director, nicknamed me the ‘king of two ways’.
“It was a dream job because I wanted to be on the radio since I was 7, when I first heard ‘Pick Of the Pops’ by Alan Freeman on the Light program. The arrival of the pirates offshore in 1964 whetted my appetite for DJing, but it was on BBC Local Radio that I made my debut – and it sounds pretty grand – writing a comedy series in 1972. I was 17 years old. schoolboy when I submitted a script to my favorite Radio Merseyside presenter, Brian Smart, who mixed it with music and sound effects, playing it on his Saturday morning show. Radio Manchester then broadcast it as well.
“The experience inspired me to become a journalist. After A-Levels and a year of prep at Preston Polytechnic, I joined Southport Visit (spelling correct) in 1974, then joined its sister newspaper, the Bootle Times. Soon after, one of the first independent Radio City (Liverpool) stations hit the air, and in its opening week I was covering non-league football for them. Fifteen days later, they asked me to co-host a Sunday Sports show, which I did for the next four years.
“I became editor of The Bootle Times at age 21, and after my three-year contract, I joined Radio City full-time in 1977, and stayed there for a decade. In 1982, I became the local government editor of the station. It sounds like a boring job description, but it was a far from boring job, with the militant streak effectively running Liverpool City Council for four years from 1983.
“It was a national story every day, with 47 councilors being removed from their posts for setting an illegal budget, with Derek Hatton and a dozen of his colleagues kicked out of the Labor Party. My coverage earned me the title of North West Radio Journalist of the Year in 1984 at the NUJ and Whitbread North-West Broadcaster of the Year in 1985.
“I moved to Westminster in 1987 to join Independent Radio News as a political correspondent before speaking to the BBC seven years later. In my time, I covered 13 general elections, interviewed 10 prime ministers, and participated in 42 years of party conferences. And yet, I really have no political opinion. I just see my role as explaining this complicated stuff to real people and trying to make it fun.
“I have been fortunate to win prizes over the years. My proudest moment was being at the chic Grosvenor Hotel in central London in 2002 after being shortlisted for a Sony Radio Award for a documentary on my broadcast hero Kenny Everett during his largely unrecognized period on BBC Local Radio after being made redundant from Radio 1 in 1970 It was then broadcast on Radio 4 Extra about thirty times. A follow-up, called “Happy Birthday Maurice Cole,” won silver for original journalism at the Frank Gillard Awards in 2010.
“And I always cover football on the weekends. Having watched my hometown club Wigan Athletic as a schoolboy during the league days, I had the privilege of being the sole broadcaster in their first Football League game in 1978, and over the years. Last 16 years I’ve covered them for BBC Radio Manchester, being part of their commentary team when they lifted the FA Cup in 2013.
“Rightly my last act before I leave will be to report on their League One game with Burton Albion this weekend. I have had an incredible chance to do what I have loved for so long. The truth is, all I am is a radio listener.