Although it is possible to hear her 4 days a week on World Radio Switzerland, Zuri Girl still feels special to have an up-close chat with one of Switzerland’s best radio personalities, co-host of the daily show The National and, of course, a Girlfriend Guide “Girlfriend”, Jo Fahy.
ZuriGirl: When you were little, did you host mock radio shows, with yourself as the emcee?
Jo Fahy: When I was little I wanted to be a dancer or an artist, until I realised I wasn’t very good at either of those things. I’ve always liked writing though; I used to have pen pals all around the world and wrote endless letters. I also exhausted entire children’s sections of my local libraries and had to join new ones to find something else to read. Yes, I was a geek!
ZuriGirl: Tell us about your most interesting show guest.
Jo Fahy: I’m most interested by finding out the unusual stories of ordinary people who are all around us. Recently I met a man who walked the length of Japan after he was made redundant; I spoke to an asylum seeker waiting to be deported; I went through Zurich Opera House’s entire costume collection with the wardrobe assistant; I’ve poked my head out the top of a 100m high wind turbine after climbing up a terrifying ladder…there’s always someone who’s willing to let you into their life and show you what they do.
ZuriGirl: Most people don’t have the opportunity to see how beautiful you are! What made you choose radio over television?
Jo Fahy: I feel like there’s more opportunity to be spontaneous and creative in radio. I have worked in television, but you can blend in more with a microphone rather than a large camera and all the equipment that comes with it. People tend to open up more when it’s just you and them, talking.
ZuriGirl: How do you help the nervous interviewee feel relaxed?
Jo Fahy: I normally crack some bad jokes and smile a lot! If people are well prepared, remember to breathe and can be themselves they have nothing to worry about.
ZuriGirl: With a 6:30am start time, were you always an early bird or do you dream of an evening talk show in the future?
Jo Fahy: I wouldn’t have described myself as an early bird before I started this job! I was initially worried about having to wake up at 5:15am, but now it feels completely normal. Getting out of bed at that time means I’m actually more efficient, which is something I love.
ZuriGirl: Who would be your dream interviewee? (Living or deceased)
Jo Fahy: The problem with dream interviewees is the danger of being too star-struck to talk to them properly. I would love to interview the musician Beck, who seems to have a pretty unusual lifestyle and also makes such varied music. To have been able to speak to Emmeline Pankhurst, a leading suffragette, who fought for women’s right to vote in Britain, would have been brilliant.
ZuriGirl: What’s your secret in taking care of yourself ensuring that you do not get a sore throat or cold that could effect your presentation?
Jo Fahy: It’s no understatement to say that sleep becomes an obsession when you work on a breakfast show. Luckily, I can be cheerful without a full nights sleep, but it certainly helps. Of course, I leave the partying for the weekend but sometimes there’s just no hiding from a cold!
ZuriGirl: In your personal life, who has been your biggest fan that you can depend on always listening to your show?
Jo Fahy: My other half listens when he can, though he normally rushes out in the mornings. I often overhear him discussing Swiss current affairs or something we talked about on the show with his friends; it’s always nice to see your work having an impact on someone.
ZuriGirl: Who’s your favorite radio personality?
Jo Fahy: I’m a huge fan of Chris Evans, who presents BBC Radio Two’s breakfast show in the UK. He’s one of the most bright and breezy people on earth in the early hours of the morning, despite some past wild times. I also love listening to specialist music shows on lots of different stations and I’ve also become a fan of NPR’s Terry Gross since WRS started playing Fresh Air. She has great guests and asks some really direct, personal questions.
ZuriGirl: Where do you turn to for your news?
Jo Fahy: I seem to hear about things first on Twitter nowadays! @jofahy if you’re interested. Aside from WRS of course, it depends on what I want to know. I read articles, watch or listen to programmes from Bloomberg, the Tages Anzeiger, BBC, the Guardian, 20 Minuten, Private Eye, the New York Times, Wired, Sky news, CNN, the NZZ, Pitchfork, SF, Beobachter, local papers and newsheets…
ZuriGirl: We have to ask…do radio personalities wear sweat pants to work?
Jo Fahy: Actually no…I head out reporting after the show, so I try to look presentable. Plus there are other people in the office who might get a bad impression. Sometimes we take our shoes off in the studio though!
To listen to Jo Fahy and The National daily, tune into World Radio Switzerland