Karthi Gnanasegaram

From hosting and reporting at global sports events to presenting on Classic FM and working with the United Nations Goals House project, there’s never a dull moment for the television and radio presenter, Karthi Gnanasegaram 


I was born in Birmingham, brought up in Wolverhampton and travelled to school in Birmingham every day – so New Street Station was a feature of my school day! I’ve been very lucky to travel and work at the biggest sports events in the world. I’ve always loved seeing first-hand how sport can bring joy and distraction from the world around us and that has been particularly apparent during this challenging period of our lives. Working with Classic FM brings a similar sense of community, particularly around Christmas time, with those who might not have family or can’t get to see others and are feeling a little lonely, knowing they have some company when listening to us.


I have a huge amount of variety in my work. From hosting and reporting at global sports events to presenting on Classic FM and working with the United Nations Goals House project, I’m constantly learning about how far I can push myself out of my comfort zone.


The last few years have been an eye-opener in so many ways! One of those has been realising I can use my skills in different ways and through my interviews, encourage people who might not ordinarily want to open up, to talk about their experiences in order to help others. I get asked about diversity and equality a lot and helping people understand more about these issues, and even to ask some of those questions they might have been nervous about voicing has been an important part of the time I spend away from my more traditional work. I’ve also been working with the Goals House project, hosting events that bring together influential figures that are behind achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.


It might sound strange but having the confidence to do my job is something I’ve come to realise I should be more proud of. I’m not an extrovert, so hosting an event like a Royal Opera House live performance in front of 10,000 people in Trafalgar Square can be rather daunting but it’s also exhilarating.


I work in an industry where you get a lot of knock-backs. I think I would tell my younger self to keep believing in my abilities no matter which boss tells you that you might do better becoming a housewife than a sports presenter! Thankfully, I have been surrounded by brilliantly supportive colleagues who, whenever I’ve had those moments of being told I’m not good enough, have been the ones to tell me to keep working hard, keep improving and to keep going…


The history and architecture of Birmingham is striking but it’s intrinsically linked with the people and their friendly openness and probably most importantly, their sense of humour!


I love cooking for big groups of family and friends, so when I’m travelling I get ridiculously excited about discovering the traditional dishes of different cultures. Tasting a country’s street food is a great way of understanding more about the history of a place you visit. As it’s almost Christmas, plans are in motion for our annual university dinner which involves cooking the full works, turkey and all the trimmings, for around 25 to 30 friends. It’s a lovely tradition, although it requires a big kitchen!

Karthi is presenting A Choral Christmas, a festive celebration with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, on 16, 17 and 19December at Symphony Hall.