When you meet Helen McCarthy, you can’t help but feel captivated by her warm energy. She’s a bright and bubbly soul who puts you at ease immediately…
As we settle down for our interview, it’s clear that she’s perfect for the role she’s occupied for the past 25 years – working as a local radio news broadcaster for the BBC.
Since 1999, Helen has worked for BBC Radio Leicester (with a stint at Nottingham thrown in for good measure…) She’s interviewed thousands of people over that time and has covered some of the biggest stories in Leicester: LCFC’s heroic Premier League victory, the tragic Hinckley Road explosion and the historic discovery of King Richard III’s remains, under a city car-park, to name but a few.
She’s also spoken to high profile athletes and celebrities like Matthew Pinsent and Isabella Rossellini.
However, for Helen the real joy of her job, is getting to speak to real ‘salt of the earth’ people about their lives, challenges and passions – that’s where the real privilege lies…
“I love speaking to inspiring people who are really enthused and passionate about what they do. There are so many amazing people out there who are volunteering and doing crazy things, just because they feel that they want to do something, and they want to make a difference,” she told Pukaar.
“To be surrounded by people like that every day is just fantastic – an honour and a privilege really. When you get to speak to people like that, you can’t help but feel positive and inspired yourself.”
Helen describes her job at Radio Leicester as the “perfect fit” for her sociable and curious personality.
“I’ve always loved talking to people – meeting new people and starting conversations with strangers. Just hearing people’s stories and understanding a little window into their lives is what I enjoy,” she revealed.
“I’d describe myself as someone who always wants to go behind that door – the one that says ‘do not enter!’ – I need to know what’s behind it… ”
Helen also enjoys the fun and ‘wacky’ side of her role as a broadcaster.
Some of her more bizarre memories include taking a choir to Leicester train station in order to cheer people up on ‘Blue Monday’.
She’s also been tasked with swimming across Rutland Water, suiting up for riot training with Leicestershire Police and even putting sunscreen on a pig!
“Sometimes in the meetings, the producers will come up with the weirdest ideas, so you’ve got to be the sort of person who’ll say ‘yes’ to crazy wacky ideas,” she explained. “Luckily I’ll try pretty much anything.
“Going live on radio is something that I really enjoy. It makes you a little bit fearless, but you do amazing things when you’re live that you wouldn’t normally do,” she added. “You get a real buzz!”
Asked to sum up her 25 years in broadcasting, Helen said that it’s been an “amazing journey” and one that she wouldn’t change for the world…
“Sometimes I have to admit, it doesn’t feel like a job – it’s just so much fun!” she said.
“You get to see things you wouldn’t normally be able to see, and do things you wouldn’t have done… When you look back, it’s absolutely astounding. It makes me feel exhausted to be honest, but also really, really proud.”
To find out more about Careers at BBC Radio Leicester, visit: www.careers.bbc.co.uk