Scott Mills: My Saturday Job
Farah Jassat speaks to acclaimed Radio 1 DJ, Scott Mills, about his first job on local hospital radio which gave him a taste of the job he really wanted.
I was 12 when I started working at a local hospital radio station in Southampton, near where I grew up. I’d always wanted to do radio from as far back as I can remember. Actually, I think I got the job because my nan rang them up!
I spent two years volunteering – on a Tuesday evening and all day on Saturday.Initially I just helped out behind the scenes – in the newsroom, making tea – being the general dogsbody. I was nervous because I was quite shy. I wasn’t the best at meeting new people, but I got better at it and grew in confidence.
Some people there were more welcoming than others, but despite my age I think it was clear that I really wanted to do this as a career. The committee were all in their 60s and a bit old-school. They had been doing the hospital radio in the same way for ever; I think some of them are still there now. When a 12-year-old comes along and is very keen they are a bit … oh, who is this? Eventually they chucked me out for being too young.
There was a younger crowd in on Sundays, who were in their 20s and who I could relate to. So I went in on Sundays and they let me do loads: operating equipment and going on-air. The first thing I would do on air was the chart rundown, which I prepared lovingly every week.
I remember when my friend Lee, who I’m still in contact with, sat me down one day and said: “Right, let’s see how good you are.” So we did an off-air radio show where I operated all of the equipment. I remember being the most excited I’ve ever been. But eventually the older people sent me a letter saying I couldn’t operate the equipment because I was too young – they basically told me not to come in any more. I think it was something to do with not being insured. I was gutted. I used to loved it.
I always thought that I’d never make it as a presenter because I wasn’t confident enough. I was planning on working behind the scenes, not as a presenter. This was the first time I realised I could do it. Before that, it was just a dream.
I’m from a small town in Hampshire; I had a dream of what I wanted to do and I followed it through. If I hadn’t hung out with those hospital radio people on a voluntary basis, I wouldn’t have had the skills to get my first job.
Published in The Guardian’s ‘Work’ supplement and guardian.co.uk on 5 August 2011.