Broadcasting I enjoy maybe even more than writing. It’s more spontaneous – especially when live – and much quicker. But I don’t get it regularly, being as it’s event-driven. Sudden rushes of media focus on Korea alternate with weeks on end when no one calls.
I’d be happy to broadcast more – and am well equipped to do so, at least for radio. With an ISDN line and a Codec at home – the latter courtesy of BBC World Service – I can offer rapid response to Korean events – and in studio quality sound! TV is fine too, if you book a studio in Leeds; I need an hour’s notice. KBS even sent a crew one time.
I think I’m good at this. Hopefully well-informed on my subject, I also try to be lively. Recently I likened George Bush to Britney Spears. (He calls North Korea an evil axis, but says he’s ready to talk; she abjures premarital sex, yet is raunch incarnate.) I can also rein in such tabloid tendencies, and explain complex issues simply yet in depth. If there’s a reporter in Seoul for the actualite, a good double-act is for me to add analysis.
The first time the BBC ever called me up about Korea was in 1972. So I have a long track record, and a wealth of experience. Over the years I must have done hundreds of broadcasts. The vast majority are standard two-way interviews; but I’m just as happy with panel discussions, or to read a comment down the line (Deutsche Welle used to do this). Anything from two minutes to two hours (dream on) is fine. On topics, I tend to be typecast as North Korea/politics – but please note I also do South Korea/business.
Naturally, the BBC – especially World Service – is my mainstay. The folks at Bush (no relation) are great to work with, and I cherish longstanding ties with East Asia Today, The World Today, World Update, Newshour, et al. This tends to be down the line; but for South Korea’s last presidential election, EAT had me live in the studio to comment on the results as they came in. Similarly, their TV colleagues at BBC World put me at White City all day when Kim met Kim for the June 2000 north-south summit. Four successive hourly news bulletins, if I recall. The trick is to vary it – and that day, keep a dry eye. (Dispassionate expert be blowed. I cried buckets – but off-camera. I’m a pro.)
Less often am I heard at home. Mainly Radio 4 – The World Tonight, Today, et al – but also Radio 5 Live, regional BBC (Scotland and Wales), and commercial stations. TV is rarer, partly because the mad Birtist internal market makes it impossibly expensive for the BBC to hire its own regional studios – thus reinforcing endemic metropolitan bias. NB, producers! With notice and a train fare, I’m glad to come to London. But I’ve been on Newsnight, Business Breakfast (the dawn shift), and News 24 (the wee hours). Besides the Beeb, I’ve also done TV for Bloomberg, CNBC, Arte, and various one-offs.
Beyond the UK, I’ve worked regularly for Deutsche Welle and their French, Dutch and Austrian equivalents, though less often lately (cutbacks, in some cases). Others include Switzerland (in French, mon dieu!), the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand: and even Radio Vatican – from my aunt’s living room near York, as that’s where I chanced to be. Getting a mobile phone, before everyone did, was specifically for broadcasters; so if I were out on a sunny day walking the wuthering heights round Haworth, I wouldn’t miss that call from Vienna booking an interview for later. A true example. This is the life.