Northampton’s rising radio star Kerrie Cosh tells Pulse’s music editor Sammy Jones about her career so far – including two stints on Radio 1…
Every one of us will have a specific memory of radio; those of us of a certain age will still recall the importance of taping the Top 40 singles chart on a Sunday evening.
Perhaps you’ve had a shout out on local radio, or used the background hum to get you through a working day. Radio is the faceless friend that is always there for us. But what makes you want to go from listener to presenter? There’s no point asking Kerrie
Cosh. The BBC Music Introducing in Northamptonshire and Evening Show presenter with BBC Radio Northampton didn’t aspire to take on the role: “The strangest thing about my journey in radio is that I didn’t decide I wanted to be a presenter. I just sort of fell into it,” she told us, but she does remember tipping her ears to the Jagger & Woody on Northants 96 as a youngster. “I remember listening in the car with my grandad, that’s my first and earliest memory of it.
“I was a daily listener during the Chris Moyles Radio 1 Breakfast show days, but even back then the thought of working in radio was mad to me,” she admits, “It was something I listened to on the way to and from my 9 to 5, but it was always an alien concept that people could turn up to work, talk about anything and everything, get paid and have fun. That’s a real job?!”
After leaving school Kerrie worked a succession of admin roles before making a change – at 24, she put herself through night school to pass her A-levels before heading off to Nottingham Trent University. Kerrie’s first time in front of a radio microphone was guesting on a friend’s student radio show to talk about pizza! While it certainly wasn’t worthy of a Sony Award, it gave her a taste of what life in radio might be like – and she felt remarkably at ease in the studio. “It was the first time that something had ever felt ‘natural’ to me, almost like it was meant to be,” she recalled, “After that, I begged the programme controller to give me a show, and she did – it was one hour on a Saturday.
I was awful at it at first, I look back on those shows every so often as they’re saved on my hard drive and cringe at myself, but they were so important in learning my craft and becoming the presenter I am now because I could try silly things and I’d know there were maybe three listeners at a push.”
With a burgeoning confidence, Kerrie entered the annual Student Radio Association competition, Demo Factor, very much like the X Factor, but for aspiring radio presenters, as the name suggests. Her demo was aired and the majority of judges pressed their red buttons (we told you it was akin to X-Factor!). Seemingly, Kerrie wasn’t making the right noises for them. But one judge bucked the trend and smashed his gold buzzer. “It was the nicest, most encouraging thing that has happened to me in my career so far. I never imagined I’d ever actually be good enough to do it for a job, but that moment completely changed my mindset.”
The chap who hit the buzzer was Aled Haydn-Jones, and he knows a thing or two about hitting the right note on air; for two years he has been at the helm of radio 1. After her success with Demo Factor, Kerrie began working on Kettering based Connect FM as a weekend newsreader. She was on her way. Kerrie clearly loves her job, but what is
the allure? “It’s about the connection with a listener and sharing something new with them. I’ve always loved chatting to people, and I’ve loved stories and reading since I was a child, so I’m quite an inquisitive person naturally,” she says, and when she’s not on air, or enjoying her beloved Leicester City on the pitch, Kerrie can be found with a book in hand, “Radio is just a great way of connecting with people on a one to one level.
“As a music specialist, I’m so invested in the future of music, but also finding out more about artists behind the music.
“You may think you know a lot about new music, but there’s always something or someone new to discover,” says the presenter, who professes a love of all
genres, but when pushed biggest musical squeeze is Arctic Monkeys.
Five and a half years since beginning her radio journey, Kerrie has been a staple on BBC Radio Northampton in her hometown since last April.
“There was only one show I ever wanted to do, and that was BBC Introducing in Northamptonshire,” she admits, “I respected Annie Mac, Janice Long, and Annie Nightingale, and the colossal impact they’ve had on generations of music as strong females in the industry. And I wanted to be part of that too.”
And she’s following in their footsteps; towards the end of 2020 she decided to chance her luck by applying for the Radio 1 Christmas Presenter Search.
“I thought I had no chance,” she admits, “…thousands of people apply for it.”
But she was picked for a pilot where she wowed and was given an opportunity: “I
sat in for Greg James for two days on the Breakfast Show playing anthems from my teenage years, and it was such an amazing experience as it’s something I never in a million years imagined I’d ever get to do,” she told me, “It’s a bucket list dream that
you put to the back of your mind as being a bit outrageous, isn’t it?”
But that opportunity was no fluke, and she’s since been back in the hot chair again – at the tail end of 2021 she returned to the Radio 1 airwaves: “Getting to be on a platform like that to share the newest and best music in the world has been unreal. It was like being a kid in a sweet shop.”
Ask about future ambitions and Kerrie is less certain: “…because I’ve already surpassed my own expectations,” she explains, “We’re into uncharted waters now – anything from this point on is a bonus really. “As a Punjabi woman working in mainstream music, there are very few people like me.
“So I guess I just want to encourage more women from marginalized backgrounds to get into music and radio, and to keep championing new artists – because for me, that’s the best bit about it: discovering new artists and watching them grow, develop, and progress in music.”