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James O'Brien, Mistajam and Christian O'Connell share radio experiences at DMU


He spends his days grilling politicians such as Nigel Farage live on the radio, but this week LBC’s James O’Brien has been inspiring the future of British radio at the Student Radio Conference at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU).

Highly regarded as UK’s greatest broadcaster of the modern era and a recent internet sensation for his rants about Brexit, the 45 year-old stole the show as he spoke about interviewing techniques and the current political situation.

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James O'Brien inspires the future on British radio at annual radio conference held at DMU

Theresa May’s announcement of a Snap Election just two days earlier, was conveniently timed ahead of the conference allowing James to give his unique insight which he does so effortlessly on a daily basis on our airwaves.

James spoke on Day 2 of the annual conference which is this year being hosted by De Montfort Students’ Union’s (DSU) Demon FM with industry professionals inspiring students on how to follow in their footsteps.  

James said: “What I love about radio is that your shows can have a direct impact on the lives of your listeners, you just can’t top that.

“One of the highlights of my career you would think would be an interview which gets loads of media attention, but in-fact the thing that makes me proudest is when listeners get in touch with the show to say that I’ve had a massive impact and a beneficial impact on their life.  

“A guy who used to be a football hooligan, his nephew came out as gay and said that if he hadn’t listened to my radio show he doesn’t think he’d be able to cope with it.”

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James O'Brien spoke about interview techniques and current political climate

James delved into the current political climate, answered questions on his most interesting callers including a woman who said she’d found a cure for cancer and it was in her fridge and gave words of advice to give students the edge in the industry.  

He said: “It is important to show enthusiasm and interest in people you are interviewing, do your research and let them know that they are in trusted company and that they can tell you anything and what your listeners want to hear. That’s what makes a good interview.”


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Radio 1 and Radio 1Xtra’s Mistajam who was named The Audio and Radio Industry (Aria) Music Broadcaster of the Year by the Radio Academy also inspired delegates, before shooting off for an exclusive interview with Gorillaz – which many were in awe of.

Interviewing an empty sofa, which when viewed would seat the animated characters of the band, delegates gasped in excitement of the landmark interview Mistajam would conduct that afternoon.

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Radio 1Xtra's Mistajam takes a look back at his career so far

Hosted by the Student Radio Association (SRA) student radio Best Male Presenter of the Year 2016 Mo Ayoub, Mistajam opened up about his early career and what makes a good broadcaster.

He said: “To be a broadcaster, you’ve got to be good and the only way you can get good at something is to do it over and over again.

“When you’re on the radio don’t try to be someone you’re not, just be yourself and have confidence.

“In an industry which is so competitive you need to create your own opportunities, put yourself out there. You don’t necessarily have to be different; you just need to be good.”

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It wasn’t so long ago Mistajam was starting out himself and was in the same position as students in attendance which made his keynote session on Thursday morning extremely personable.

He said: “I’ve been obsessed with music since I was 6 years old and as I grew up, Trever Nelson, Pete Tong and Tim Westwood were my idols.

“At 16, I was in your position having a taste of student radio at Fly FM, but I wasn’t a student, I was just a local DJ given the time of day to produce a show. I took that opportunity and ran with it.

“During that time I organised a gig at Nottingham’s Rock City and I did a set before the main acts and straight after I was approached by a representative from Radio 1Xtra. I never looked back.”

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Mistajam sent 8 hours’ worth of radio shows to the 1Xtra team following that conversation, he did a pilot show later that month and on the same day he was offered a regular show which he began 2 months later.

Christian O’Connell of Absolute Radio Breakfast, formerly of XFM and the BBC as well as a stand-up comedian and children’s writer, is the UK’s most decorated radio broadcaster.

His comical nature was a joy for students attending the conference on Thursday afternoon as he spoke about how students can get their big break in the industry.

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Writer, broadcaster and stand-up comedian, Christian O'Connell talks about his pet peeves and mistakes

He said: “What makes a great radio show is speaking about your life, personal experiences and what makes them so important.

“Whatever you do and wherever you are make sure you make notes as personal life is where the best stories come from and are what keep your listeners interested.

“It’s trial and error to start with and you have to make mistakes, but the crucial thing is to learn from those mistakes.”

He went into his favourite moments on air including former Arsenal striker Ian Wright hitting Broadchurch and Doctor Who actor David Tennant around the face with a fish for a feature as well as discussing his pet radio peeves.

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Also speaking on Day 2 was an array of DMU alumni including Jon Jackson of Virgin Radio, David Murphy of Capital London and Tom Williams of Smooth East Midlands.

Dave, who formerly produced Capital East Midlands Breakfast Show with Dino and Pete, now produces the Capital London drive time show with Will Manning.

Talking about the dynamic between producers and presenters, he said: “Become their friend and going into work stops becoming a job and more of a hobby.

“Discuss things with them which generate ideas, spend time together and be someone the presenter can trust to help produce a show.”

For everything from the conference and you can keep right up-to-date across our channels: TwitterFacebook, Instagram and Snapchat.


Posted on Friday 21st April 2017

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