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Introducing BBC Radio 1 & Gaydio’s Jacob Edward!

Jacob Edward made history as BBC Radio One's first non-binary presenter
Jacob Edward made history as BBC Radio 1's first non-binary presenter

Let’s talk about Gaydio for a moment.

Like it or not, we live in a country (nay, World) whose mainstream radio and TV stations are produced unanimously for a straight, cisgender audience. Despite a few token efforts to include LGBTQ characters, story lines or current affairs, every major broadcaster fails miserably to deliver meaningful, everyday, inclusive content. Meanwhile, Gaydio – a UK-based digital radio station flies the flag for LGBTQ people, delivering inclusive content and catchy pop music for LGBTQ people, all gender-identities and their friends.

Enormously underrated, Gaydio has always been the UK’s most responsive radio station. What I mean by responsive is its presenters attentively respond to messages and social media comments live on air. They welcome new listeners, chat to regular guests and concentrate on LGBTQ current affairs which mainstream news avoids (or puts a straight spin on at best). In a fantastically unique way, Gaydio provides a safe little community for its listeners and presenters and manages to feel intimate, despite its huge popularity.

One of our favourite Gaydio presenters is Jacob Edward. From a radio production background, Jacob is Gaydio’s last-minute cover presenter. They’re also a podcaster and youth worker. Their chatty, distinctive style recently caught the attention of BBC Radio 1, who invited Jacob to become their first non-binary presenter. Such an achievement! With that in mind, we’re thrilled to welcome Jacob to the blog.

Welcome to Daddy & Dad, Jacob

Hey Daddy & Dad! Thanks so much for inviting me on to your blog!

Tell us about your job on Gaydio

At Gaydio I mainly work on The Exchange, an LGBTQ+ news/current affairs discussion show broadcast in the evenings on Gaydio Manchester (think Jeremy Vine but gay). I started working as a content producer for the show almost two years ago now, before getting a shot on-air and quickly becoming the one they call at the last minute to cover shows!

By the way, you can listen to The Exchange outside of Manchester by changing your location to Manchester/North West at the bottom of the Gaydio website or asking your smart speaker to ‘play Gaydio Manchester'. At the start of this year, I was offered alternating presenting shifts for the Monday edition of the program alongside the amazing Debbie Cannon!

As a whole, Gaydio is an amazing place to work. The people are so lovely and you get to be yourself. I’ve been doing radio since I was 14 years old and can honestly say Gaydio is the only station I’ve felt 100% comfortable being myself at (BBC Radio 1 was a close second here)! If you think the fun we have on-air is good, off-air is even better (if not slightly dirtier)!

What was your first presenting experience like?

I didn’t actually start radio wanting to be a presenter. The reason I brought my first microphone for my laptop was because me and my friends wanted to become Minecraft YouTubers! Slowly I got more and more annoyed I couldn’t play my favourite songs in the videos.

So, I took what I’d learned about commentating video games to an internet radio station to start my very first radio show. It was 30 minutes long and the single worst piece of audio production to exist EVER! I’m so glad there is no evidence of this show anywhere. I was nervous, had nothing of relevance to say other than ‘that was a song, here’s another song, that’s good’.

"...the first time I stepped into a real radio studio was when I joined my local community radio station TCR FM."

While that was technically my first go at presenting, the first time I stepped into a real radio studio was when I joined my local community radio station TCR FM. This is the place I learned my craft - other teens had sports clubs or whatever for the weekends but for me, I was down doing a weekly show on TCR FM every Sunday. And the rest is history; I moved to Manchester, joined Gaydio then here we are!

Who were your LGBTQ radio heroes?

There is only one name I can put here - Scott Mills. I didn’t even realise he was gay until a lot later than I’m willing to admit but his style inspires me so much. Having read his book many times, we’re actually quite alike and in the run up to my Radio 1 takeover I actually got to sit in on one of his shows. It was the most magical thing I’ve ever witnessed - actual radio perfection!

Scott Mills - Image - BBC Radio 1 website

My other LGBTQ radio heroes include Stephanie Hirst, Adele Roberts, Aled Haydn Jones and Dan Howell (technically a radio presenter, fight me…)

Tell us about your BBC Radio One gig!

Oh gosh, where to even start! Well, Radio 1 has always been my dream station to work for. 2018 and 2019 were challenging for me as a presenter - a lot of knock-backs from big stations and some really toxic people just erupting hate. I was actually really close to leaving radio behind in 2020 because of the hate and just unkindness in this industry.

But then, in the final few months of 2019, Radio 1 puts a call out for presenters to do some shows over Christmas and well, I got picked! A station I was pretty sure I’d never even get to step foot in was letting me loose on air with two shows! It was like one big dream come true, someone had finally taken me seriously as a presenter!

Not only was I living a dream, but it turned out this was the first time Radio 1 has ever had a non-binary presenter! I can’t fault the production teams and staff in how amazing they were with my pronouns and just being so supportive of me wanting to be vocal about it on air.

I got so many messages over those two days from people who felt represented by me just chatting through the radio. It was surreal but I knew that’s what I would have needed to hear as a closeted kid at family events over Christmas. And so I became that… a beacon that it does get better and you can achieve things you never thought possible! Just by being myself on air - I never really intended it to be so inspirational, but I know from the messages I got that it was.

Could you describe what non-binary means to you? How important are your pronouns?

Being non-binary to me is not slotting into either the male or female mould that society has developed things into. I feel incredibly uncomfortable being addressed as a man or woman and so I go by neutral pronouns ‘they/them’, neutral title ‘Mx’. I don’t really pay attention to labels - I like what I like and wear what I like.

It’s really hard to explain the feeling but I know I feel so much better being addressed as they/them rather than he or she. It can take some getting used to for some people and that’s ok, but maliciously misgendering really, really hurts because it shows you just don’t care about my feelings.

What small, simple things could people do to make you feel more included?

I don’t even know why this one bothers me so much but announcements that go ‘Ladies & Gentlemen’ - I swear down some of them say it so many times in one go just to get to me. Something simple like ‘Attention everyone’ just feels better to me personally.

I’m going to add this one too - calling a group of people ‘guys’ (something I have been known to do). It’s just so not inclusive at all. It would be such a small change that we could all try to do - I know so many youth workers, facilitators and presenters even, who say ‘guys’ as a general term, so training ourselves out of that will help each other, I know it will.

Growing up, in the absence of non-binary role models, who inspired you?

Twinks! (Can I say that?)

(Jamie: Of course! By the way, Mum - 'twink' is an LGBTQ word for a young looking gay lad - don't worry! Back to Jacob)

Going through puberty was PAINFUL because my body was going through what is considered male puberty. The changes that make you look more like a ‘man’ were killing me inside. I remember facial hair being a massive thing for me; feeling sick seeing hairs growing on my face and wanting to rip it off. I hated myself so so much because I wasn’t seeing myself as I wanted to be and I couldn’t stop the changes. I wanted to look like the characters from my favourite TV shows, who I now know the gays™ would consider to be ‘twinks’.

Twinks were the only ‘men’ that looked kinda how I wanted to look. Later I learned this is called androgyny.

In all honesty, there weren’t really any role models I 100% looked up to. As a form of escapism I guess I looked up to professionals instead of people I could see were like me.

We think you’re a super role-model for children that don’t feel they fit the ‘ordinary’ mould (I was one of those once!). Do you have young kids in your family?

Aww you’re so kind! I do I have young kids in my family. In fact, I’m one of the eldest in my family's generation. All the aunts only discovered breeding after 2010 and I am the oldest of four, so I have three younger siblings (meaning I was the test subject… first to go to school, first to do this, that, etc). My Mom’s a pro now!

Do you inspire to become a parent one day?

When I was younger I used to say I would adopt as soon as I turned 21. But, having just turned 21 I don’t think I really understood how unstable the life of a 21-year-old freelancer is!

So yes, just maybe not yet!!

What was your favourite toy growing up?

Always and forever LEGO! One day (when I have a more stable income LOL), I want to be one of these adult LEGO collectors because I still love it to be honest!

What exciting plans do you have coming up this year?

Nothing springs to mind - the exciting things in my life tend to happen very suddenly... I only knew about Radio 1 for two months ahead of time. So, watch this space I guess!

Where can our readers find your podcasts and shows?

You can find me on most social networks (now including Tik Tok… ahh!) with the username ItsJacobEdward and I host two podcasts; Queer Culture, where me and my friend Holly talk about anything and everything and Queer Confessions, where I’m joined by a guest to talk about our confessions as queer people. Both can be found on all good podcasting apps!

And finally, If you could share one piece of advice with a 13 year old Jacob, what would it be?

Things don’t stay the same forever and school isn’t the only thing you’ll ever know, there is light at the end x

There you go! Thanks so much Daddy & Dad for having me on your blog! It’s been so much fun writing this!

Follow Jacob's adventures online here:


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