The man behind Ryecast

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This town is full of people with a story to tell and that’s what Ryecast is all about. It is the brainchild of James Stewart of Rye News, and his aim is to feature people who have made a difference to the town and find out why they think it is so special. Series two is just ready to roll but before it does next week we look at the private man behind the public microphone.

When did you come to Rye and what captivated you about the area?
I moved to Rye in April 2021 but I had been coming here for years – usually after a walk and swim at Broomhill Sands. It is still one of my favourite places – the beach is changing all the time with the different pools and streams, sometimes shingle, sometimes muddy, always captivating. I love watching the wrecks slowly disintegrate at low tide; there are few places I’d rather be. There are great views out to sea and along to Harbour and out to Fairlight. If I’m by myself I’m usually listening to a drama on BBC Radio 4 Xtra to keep out the howling wind.

What career path did you follow?
I worked for the BBC in London, Kent, Essex and Birmingham – and before that commercial radio in Sussex (anyone remember Radio Mercury?). I have been lucky to have worked on some big events: war anniversaries, Jubilees, Children In Need etc. – as well as pretty well every job in local radio at Radio Kent, on and off-air. This is how I found out about this part of the world…covering stories on the Marsh or at Dungeness. My last role was in New Broadcasting House (often in shot in the background of the news…). I always found it pretty amazing to walk through those doors every day. It is a vibrant and exciting place – and you get to meet Alan Yentob in a lift. W1A wasn’t far wrong…

Alan Yentob

What motivated you to create Ryecast?
Ryecast has been a great way of meeting people in the town. Everyone has a story to tell and pretty well everyone in Rye is doing something to benefit the local community. It’s friendly and eccentric…and slightly cut off from the rest of the world. Rye is such a creative place, so I wanted Ryecast to be a quality thing…things like Ryezine and Rye News are really good, so Ryecast has to be up there. It’s recorded on a hand-held recorder and edited on a laptop on the kitchen table at Udimore Road: no need for a studio, transmitters, managers… Lots of great stories in the first series…the second has more, but also has more audience interaction (e.g. questions to police chief or hopefully grilling people standing for the elections this year). I also want to record people’s memories of Rye… for example the nightclub next to the level crossing or something to tie in with coronation.

What advice would you give to an 18-year old today?
Stop worrying what people think about you. Everything will turn out ok – most things normally do. It’ll be fine. What’s the worst thing that can happen? And get a dog a.s.a.p.

Which words would you eliminate from conversations today?
I shout at the radio as much as anyone else, usually when there’s a ridiculous phrase. A couple recently come to mind: “Government launching a raft of policies” (raft?), “The Cabinet is said to be in lockstep over a decision” (huh?). Saying something is indescribable – go on. Try. And just answer the bloody question. But when it’s done well, I love how the radio can take you places…to a fascinating life, a genuinely interesting encounter, and best of all, something that makes you keep listening because it’s so good.

Best moment?
I love travelling – though that’s been on hold because of the pandemic. I haven’t done a really big trip since being repatriated out of Costa Rica in March 2020. That makes it sound really bad, but we were in a hotel on the Pacific Coast which was slowly closing down and emptying, leaving a planeload of Brits getting sloshed by the pool until word got out that the last flight was leaving the next day. I have been so lucky to have travelled extensively – driving coast-to-coast and back across USA & Canada road trip. One favourite trip was going overland from Nairobi to Cape Town via Zimbabwe and Namibia. There is still so much more to see.

Who played an important part in your career?
I was lucky to have worked with some amazing people. The BBC is full of people passionate about their job – the engineers who can get you on-air in the middle of nowhere, the producers who can conjure up a guest when things are all falling apart, presenters who can get something really unexpected out of an interviewee. You learn from them all. That said…I really don’t miss all the meetings…I’d much rather be out with David & the dog, no matter how icy the wind is in Rye Bay.

You can get in touch with James by emailing ryecastsussex@gmail.com. He’s always up for ideas about whom to speak to. You can hear the podcast by searching for Ryecast in places like Apple or Spotify or by visiting www.ryecast.org

Image Credits: Kt bruce .

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1 COMMENT

  1. Good to read about the man, James Stewart behind Rye Cast. Listening to his podcasts allows me to learn something new about where I live, and the people who contribute to this historical and creative town. I agree the beaches and sea environment are ever-changing, my healing and restoring spaces. Like James, I enjoy swimming at Broom Hill or Pett Level.

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