Kerry Cobb recently spoke to us about how she got onto the airwaves and what it is like working in motorsport radio. She is the newest of the BSB Radio presenters, joining at the beginning of 2018. During the week she can be heard on Radio Verulam in St. Albans where she has her own Breakfast show. She is also the BSB reporter for the Midweek Motorsport programme on Radio Le Mans, as well as a producer for the station.
Whilst she has a lot of experience on the radio her career path initially took a very different direction. She left school at 18 and went backpacking round the world. On her return she obviously hadn’t lost the travel bug as she began to work for an airline. This she did for ten years before making a life changing decision.
Back to School
Her heart was always in performing or presenting so at the age of 28 gave up her career and went back to college and then university to study a degree in performing arts. Once back working she found herself performing in a radio play and she fell in love with the medium.
So she joined her local radio station. Kerry Cobb told us, “I applied to my local radio station, Chiltern FM, to be their oldest tea girl ever and made my way through the ranks. No seriously, I rang them up I was like, I’m 32-year-old do you fancy a volunteer girl that will make really good tea. Then about a year later I had my own show and then I got the breakfast show at Mercury.”
Kerry Cobb has also worked for Heart and LBC radio stations among others.
First steps into Motorsport Radio
The motorsport side of things came about after Kerry Cobb, who has a motorbike licence, successfully applied for a job with Silverstone Radio. Back in 2011 they were expanding their coverage to 24 hour seven days a week.
“I love motorsport and I thought Oh, this is good. This could be combining two great passions of mine.”
The same people also employed her at the Donington circuit. Through this work she went on to meet Paul Muselle, who was running BSB Radio at the time. He asked Kerry Cobb to get involved but initially she was reluctant to. “My children were too small I didn’t want to be away”, she recalled. She eventually went on to help out at a couple of rounds before last season being convinced to go full-time in 2018.
“Well last season I just thought, I can do this, and here we are,” She commented.
Kerry joins the BSB Radio family
Her role on the show is that of the shows anchor. Cobb clarified that meant, “to provide a bit of stability and continuity and just to hold the show together. So, I kind of do the start, I do the welcome. I then hand over to the commentating team, which is the brilliant Fred Clarke and Larry Carter, who I’m just so lucky to work with. They do all the on-track action and the studio anchor role does all the off-track action.”
In the lunch breaks or when there is a red-flag she gets to do interviews with some of the riders or the pit-crew as well. She also gets to attend the press conferences and interview the riders after their races. Although not strictly the anchors role, Kerry Cobb explained, “It’s a kind of added extra that I love to do.”
“I just like the human side of it”
In our conversation it is clear she loves her work and that becomes even more apparent when she talks about interviewing the younger riders. “One of the delightful parts of what I do is to go and chat with those young lads. I’m a fan first and foremost and these guys and their families have given up everything to pursue this career in motorsport and I just like the human side of it, I like the stories, chatting to their mums and dads, seeing what they have given up every weekend pretty much,” she enthused.
We went on to speak more about the riders and their families. “My teenagers are 15 and 13 and I could not imagine having to combine that lifestyle of travelling halfway round the country every other weekend and making sure they have committed themselves to their homework. […] It must be so difficult for the parents to go, right this is a completely different lifestyle we are coming into here. We are stepping out of the norm. Some of us will take our kids to football pitches halfway up the road but we won’t drive to Oulton Park on a Wednesday and stay there until Sunday night. It’s incredible! That is one of the best parts of my job really. Getting those stories of what it actually takes. The reality of it is Wow! That is dedication,” she effused.
“I have never been a nine to five person”
I asked Kerry Cobb what it is like over a BSB weekend. Most people work around 8 hours a day but a race weekend is pretty much full on the whole time. She declared, “One. I have never been a nine to five person. All my life has been shift work and especially the last few years in motorsport which has been all weekend. The other thing is I’m a fan. Getting paid to go to these circuits and do what I love, that helps enormously. I’ll rock up on a Friday afternoon. I’ll go to the practice sessions. I’ll line-up some interviews for the weekend. I’ll try to chat to as many people as I can. Then on Saturday and Sunday on race days, I’m in the studio from 8 in the morning until we leave at 6 or 7 O’clock at night. Then I’ll still be cutting up interviews and editing for the next day. […] Some people say ‘Oh you get to stay in hotels every other weekend.’ Well, if they could see me sat in my room with a bag of crisps and my laptop editing interviews for the following day,” she laughed.
Not everything goes according to plan
Despite a lot of careful planning and the professional team that makes up BSB Radio sometimes things don’t go according to plan.
Kerry Cobb recounted, “I was driving around the M25 across the Dartford Tunnel, rocked up at the second round of Brands Hatch, went to say hello to everyone and I’d lost my voice. I couldn’t speak! I literally had to croak my way through the weekend. Including when Larry [Carter] got seconded somewhere else and he wanted me to go and do a podium presentation. And at the podium presentation, someone decided to do a marriage proposal and there was me croaking my way through. But she said yes so it was all good.
It’s moments like that that you think, there’s nothing you can do and you are very, very lucky to be part of a great team that can kind of carry you through those bad moments.”
Back on BSB Radio in 2019
She ended our conversation by telling me, “I’m just so grateful to do the job that I absolutely love and the support of everyone around me has been absolutely incredible. Every day is a massive learning curve, with all the support races. The support of MSV and all the staff and all the fans, they are just awesome.”
If you want to hear about St. Albans, then you can listen to Kerry Cobb between six and nine every week day morning online. You will also find her on twitter @kezcobb and on Instagram _Kez_c. For us motorsport fans we will have to wait until the first round of British Superbikes that starts on 19 April at Silverstone.