Up close and personal with BBC Breakfast radio presenter, Alex Lester
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF
I’m Alex Lester, breakfast presenter for BBC WM. I started my career in Birmingham so it’s great to be back. I grew up in Walsall and studied Communications at Birmingham Poly before getting my first job at BBC WM (then known as Radio Birmingham). It was in this city that I first started presenting for BBC Radio – 13 out of the 30 years I worked there were spent broadcasting from Birmingham and the rest in London. Now I’m back on BBC WM it’s like I’ve come full circle.
HOW DO YOU GET INTO TOWN?
I drive to BBC Birmingham in the Mailbox from where I live in Wednesbury. My show starts weekdays at 6am so when I head in at 4am it’s very quiet.
HOW’S THE COMMUTE?
When I head home around lunchtime I’m going against the flow of traffic so I’m lucky enough to escape the rush hour rage then too.
IS BRUM A GOOD PLACE TO WORK IN?
I’ve worked in a lot of cities and Birmingham has everything that London has but it’s even better because it’s closer together. In my lifetime it’s been completely re-generated. It makes me furious when people say that Manchester and Newcastle are cooler than Birmingham! The pub and music scene here has always been, and still is, second to none.
In the studio, I drink gallons tea – with a mug of tea in your hand you can take on the world! We have a meeting after the show in the offices, but if we go for a chat after work then the best ideas always come in the pub! We go to the Craven Arms nearby or the Wellington on Bennetts Hill. Great radio should be like chatting to your mates in the pub – you have a laugh but you also talk about what’s going on in the world.
If I haven’t brought my Thomas The Tank Engine lunchbox in to work (!) then I will stop off somewhere, but I’m not into posh cuisine. The Lord Clifden in Hockley does a mean all-day breakfast called the Brummie. I also like Café 21 in Perry Barr for a chicken and mushroom pie with veg.
The old Birmingham canal is forever romantic to me. I used to live on a narrow boat at Hockley Port and loved it.
WHERE’S YOUR FAVOURITE PART OF THE CITY?
The music scene in general, wherever that may take me. From live gigs at the Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath to trawling through old records at the Diskery, Bromsgrove Street – I’ve spent hours in there over the years.
I like proper old boozers for sitting and holding conversations in rather than bars with big tellies and fancy food. The Barton Arms in Aston is the most fantastic Victorian pub.
HOW CAN THE CITY BE MADE BETTER?
By getting people to walk more. The city is so allied to motorcars and it’s great how the tram has been extended, but it’s even better if you park up and walk everywhere. You can still see the heritage around Horse Fair and Bristol Street.