In the first episode, I ask a panel of conservationists, explorers and wildlife photographers which place on Earth they'd most like to save from the twin perils of climate change and booming populations...
It was lovely to be invited on to this Radio 4 panel game about the world of quotations, which has been running since about 1843.
It seems at first glance a good fit for me: it’s a quiz about what famous people said and wrote (I studied literature), it’s gently amusing, rather than competitively comedic (I’m not a stand-up), and it’s resolutely aimed at middle England (I sound like the sort of guy you’d meet in a garden centre). But I'm really not the sort of guy who don’t retain quotes! So I thought I'd really struggle. In the end, I think I did... ok. But it was really great to meet my fellow panelists, especially two women I massively admire, Joanna Scanlan and newsreading legend Charlotte Green.
What a pleasure it was to host the inaugural British Podcast Awards last night. The crowd were an eclectic mix - BBC executives, bedroom podcasters, corporate advertisers, indie producers, radio journalists - but all linked by one shared passion: podcasting.
I have long held that, whilst radio is the most incredibly intimate medium, podcasting goes one better, because you choose to listen to who you want, when you want; it's not just serendipity when you happen to flick a switch and hear someone you like. This relationship that podcasters can establish with their audiences over time was well represented by the enthusiasm and warmth in the room. The big winner of the night, deservedly, was Wolfgang's Fathers and Sons - an advertiser-backed show, note - and I was delighted to see the Podcast Champion award went to Adam Buxton, who, as a rather crucial part of Adam and Joe, was certainly one of the reasons I picked up a mic in 2007.
The Radio Times has done a nice write-up about it here.
New for 2017, I am the host of The Week Unwrapped, a weekly news and current affairs podcast in association with weekly news magazine The Week - a periodical to which I had long been a subscriber before they approached me!
Each week myself and three very clever bods from The Week's digital team consider the three biggest stories of the week - not the news that's been generating the most headlines, but rather the hidden gems you might have missed from the mainstream media. We cover the same broad range of areas you'd find in The Week's magazine and website, from sport to food to theatre to personality interviews- and of course plenty of politics. I'm loving it.
Somewhat astonishingly, our little podcast that could, Answer Me This!, is ten years old.
When we began the show, Tony Blair was Prime Minister, iPhones didn't exist, and I had no detectable bald spot... I never could have predicted we'd still be here, with a bigger audience than ever, and podcasting would be cool again.
We got a lovely review from Miranda Sawyer in The Observer, who basically said that you should listen to us instead of Nigel Farage on LBC. Who am I to disagree?
To celebrate, we put out a bumper anniversary edition of the show featuring some genuinely heartwarming calls from listeners who have been enjoying the show for a decade:
Christmas is always a particularly busy time for me - as it's when year-round radio hosts tend to take their holidays! Here's where you can see/hear me this festive season:
Wednesday 21st December, 7-10pm: sitting in for Mark Forrest across 40 BBC Local radio stations in England and the Channel Islands
27th-30th December, 9am-midday: BBC Three Counties Radio
28th December, 10:30pm and 11:30pm: paper preview on Sky News
31st December: 10am-1pm: Magic FM
I'm doing a new show for Radio 4. It's called The Male Room, and it goes out at 11pm on Monday nights, and is, I guess, a kind of men's version of Late Night Woman's Hour.
Basically, it's me chatting to interesting guests about what masculinity and manliness really mean in the modern world, whether you need to exhibit physical strength to be a 'real man', whether men are articulate or emotionally intelligent, and all that sort of gubbins.
The first episode is about inadequacy and you can listen here. We've had some nice responses, like this in The Sunday Times, and some people who really don't like it, like this man who called me a 'mangina', but then invited me for dinner.
Episode two is about anger and episode three is about heroism, and when they've gone out on the radio you should be able to listen here. Fingers crossed for a podcast - and a second series -in 2017.
It's also been really satisfying to have some recognition for the show, not least winning the Silver award for Podcast of the Year at the 2016 Radio Academy Awards (ARIAs).
There's also been this lovely piece in the Financial Times:
It's that time of year again - the Edinburgh International Television Festival, three days in August in which the great and the good of the telly industry converge on a conference centre to chat each other up and give each other awards...
And I've been a very busy boy at this year's event!
Not only did I host a session, all about a shit-hot Danish gameshow that's about to sell all over the world, but I also presented TWO podcasts from the event...
... Our annual Media Podcast Edinburgh Special, with guests Boyd Hilton, Tom Latchem, Maggie Brown and Jake Kanter...
... and a special edition of Chips With Everything looking at whether VR really is the future of television, with guests including CNN's Laurie Seagall and YouTube star Marcus Butler:
Whatever now happens in my radio career, I can say I've been a Drivetime presenter!
(Okay, so it's not the 'big job' of Breakfast, but it doesn't necessitate 3am starts, either...)
I've just spent three glorious weeks sitting in for Roberto Perrone on my fab local station BBC Three Counties.
It's a long show - 3-7pm each day - but the news chat is broken up by panel discussions, BBC journalism, and, of course, some classic 'choons.
I loved it and hope to return again soon. Here's a little sample of what it all sounded like:
I'm also doing a week covering Drive for BBC Northampton - you can tune in 5th-9th September.
Most voiceover jobs are fairly pedestrian - corporate videos, 15 second ad spots, direct marketing, that kind of thing (not that I'm complaining! And OF COURSE I bring passion and dedication to every voiceover job I do, oh yes). But this is by far the coolest voiceover job I've ever had - an animation series for kids about NASA's missions to reach distant parts of our Solar System, beginning with this one about the Juno mission to Jupiter. More coming soon!
I’ve just done my last weekend show for LBC: there’s about to be a shake-up of the weekend schedule and, sadly for me, I’m not part of it. The last four years has taught me loads about live radio, and I’ve loved every moment (apart from going to bed at 6am when doing overnights!).
... But I'll be back on the wireless very soon, side-kicking alongside the lovely Mel Giedroyc for her first two shows on Magic FM. Tune in Saturday mornings from 1pm!
After five years of publishing my gadget column, the lovely people at Reader's Digest UK have decided to give me my very own lifestyle column, too. This means I now have the flexibility to write about all kinds of stuff, not just gadgets - my first one is all about my anxieties of being a soon-to-be Dad. It's called It's A Mann's World, and it's the first three pages you see as you open the mag each month, and it's very exciting and all that, but the best thing, really, is I now get to have myself preserved in illustrated form. Here's the first example. Phwoar!
Steve Folland, host of the excellent podcast series 'Being Freelance', invited me on to his show this week to discuss my decade of, erm, being freelance. I'd never before thought of my experience as being particularly instructive for others, but it turns out I've got quite a lot to say about self-promotion, reputation building, collaboration, entering awards, experimentation, and much else besides! As well as being a great podcaster Steve is a brilliant listener - I think it might be my favourite interview of all I've ever given. Anyway, you can judge for yourselves here:
The first season of my latest podcast project The Modern Mann has just wrapped: I wanted to test the water with an initial run of ten episodes, and I'm jolly pleased with how it's turned out! Over the course of the series, I met a man who has served time in America's toughest prison, I tasted some of the best burgers in the world, and I discussed with the UK's premier Father Christmas what life is like under that iconic red costume, being propositioned by Santa fetishists.
We've had 200,000 downloads and over 100 five-star reviews over the first ten weeks, which I'm thrilled with, and I'm looking forward to returning with season two in the Spring and building our audience further. You can find out more about the show at modernmann.co.uk - and producer Matt Hill has written an excellent post about how we created the show here.
It's Instagram's fifth birthday, and to celebrate The Guardian despatched me to California to meet Mike Krieger, its co-founder. Our 30 minute chat is available to download HERE. For a dotcom billionaire, he's incredibly modest, and full of sage advice, e.g. "You should be able to explain your startup to a stranger at a bar" and "People who live in Silicon Valley are living in a future that is never going to happen". Too true!
Another ambition achieved today, when I appeared as the special guest on Channel 5's The Wright Stuff.
It really is the Thinking Man's daytime TV show, and it's the one I filled my mornings with as a student. I bloody loved it, and hope to be invited back soon.
Here I am holding some reptile or other brought in by my fellow guest, wildlife expert Nigel Marven.
I'm well chuffed to have been asked to host The Guardian's Tech Weekly podcast, a show I've listened to for YEARS, over the Summer.
It's daunting taking over from the wonderful Aleks Krotoski, but I just have to be my own Mann I guess. The first episode, focussing on holiday tech, is out now and features guests from Air Bnb, TripAdvisor and USwitch.
Update: July 2015 - After a succesful trial period I have now been unveiled as the permanent new host! Well, co-host: from October 2015 I'll be joined by Nathalie Nahai, and present the show on alternate weeks. I'm thrilled.
I was very flattered to find this Buzzfeed listicle last week, in which their Entertainment Editor Scott Bryan has chosen the '14 British Podcasts You Need To Start Listening To' - as not one but BOTH of my podcasts, Answer Me This! and The Media Podcast, have made the list. All highly subjective of course, but still lovely to see...
It's official! As my boss James Rea announced in his blog this morning, I am now the host of the weekend evening show on LBC. I'll be taking over from Ian Collins from Friday evening. I can't wait to get stuck in.
Massive thanks to all my callers from the overnight show - I hope you make the leap over with me to my new slot and tune in Fridays from 8-10pm and Saturdays from 6:30-10pm.