John, who has a degree in history from Oxford University, has worked in regional radio and television throughout his career, in both news and sport.
I didn't always want to be a presenter. Initially I was destined to go into the family business; but for various reasons, I started to make other plans when I was at Oxford University, studying history. The problem was I didn't know what I wanted to do. I do know, however, that my degree has had no bearing on the development of my career. After graduation, my options seemed to be the City or civil service - but I was after something a bit more exciting.
I thought a spell in the West Indies covering cricket would be more appealing, but I knew the only way to do that was by becoming a journalist. After graduation, I applied for a job on a local newspaper in Yorkshire, reporting half on news and half on sport… and that's how things started for me. I was there for four or five years - probably too long - and then left and started freelancing for a radio station in Bradford. I covered sport, which was right up my street. I'd report on rugby union and non-league football.
From there, I got a job at Radio Aire in Leeds. I ended up as news editor and then began freelancing at weekends for a Yorkshire Television as a sports reporter. Being proactive is incredibly important. I got my foot in the door, and then when a job came up as a newsroom journalist, I applied and got it. That was 1989.
Having a history degree has been useful because it taught me how to write concisely. That discipline of sitting down and hitting an essay deadline stood me in good stead. In my world now, working to deadline is essential.
I like the job because it's varied. For two-and-a-half years I presented Calendar, the regional TV programme, which was news-based, talking to lots of different people and interviewing studio guests. Now I'm back doing sport, which I love.
Looks do matter in our industry - more so for women than for men. Mind you, a man might not get a presenting job because the powers that be want a woman to do it. Plus, it's not as stable an industry as it was when I came into it. Regional ITV news is suffering badly and jobs have been cut and I don't think we'll ever get back to how things were because the advertising cake is split too many ways. There will always be commercial regional news because the government and Ofcom have decided there has to be an opposition to the BBC. But it might not be on ITV or, if it is, it might not be provided by the same people who are currently doing it.
There are a proliferation of channels out there, but budgets are tight and presenters can't pick and choose the way they used to. I'd advise anyone coming into the industry now to modify their expectations. Having said that, it has its rewards. It can be creative and satisfying, and there is an adrenaline buzz about presenting live TV.
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