If you, like many Jordanians, or what seems like EVERY SINGLE Jordanian some mornings (azmeh!), drive to work in the morning, then you’ve probably heard “The Big Breakfast Show” on Play 99.5.
If you tune in regularly, then I am sure you know exactly how the show presenter sounds, British accent and all. So who exactly is this man which you’ve spent so many of your caffeine-infused, half-asleep mornings with and what the heck is he doing in Jordan?
Let’s get to know more about the man behind the voice – Mr. Lee McGrath…
Lee, Before Jordan
I was born in the city of Liverpool in the UK and grew up in the countryside pretty much in the middle of nowhere. It used to take me 2 hours to get to school and 2 hours to get back home each day, that was 2 train journeys and a bus ride on the way and the same to get back home.
It was doing this each day that got me interested in radio. I used to really enjoy putting my headphones on and hearing these people having fun and making the morning more exciting. I loved how they were talking to thousands of people yet at the same time, it was like they were talking to me.
I never actually thought it would be something I’d be able to do though. When I was 6, I had to go to speech therapy for 18 months as I had problems speaking.
I knew what I wanted to say but all the words would come out as one big jumbled up mess. I had a lovely teacher called Mrs. Worthington who helped me overcome this, I still call her each year on her birthday to say ‘Thank You’ because, without her, I’m sure that I wouldn’t be on this wonderful journey that I’m on.
First time on the radio
When I was 17, a friend of mine had a brother in law that worked for a radio station so I asked if it would be ok to visit to see what it was like as I’d never been to one before.
I visited a few times and then one Sunday a few weeks later someone was off sick and couldn’t do their show so the owner called me and asked me if I could help out.
The show was 10pm – 1am in the morning and it was the most exciting experience I’ve ever had doing something I’d wanted to do since such an early age.
I can’t actually remember very much about the show as it went so quick, I think it went ok though as the following week the owner called be up again and offered me the weekday afternoon show (4pm – 7pm) and I’ve been doing radio daily ever since.
Time for a Change of Scenery
I lived all over the UK for 12 years working for different radio stations and doing different shows (evenings/afternoons and morning) and then the call from Jordan came about an exciting new project,
I’d always loved the idea of living abroad for a little and seeing what that would be like but I always wanted to do it if the challenge was right. Back in 2005 I received a call from a good friend of mine who was living in Lebanon and he told me about a radio station in Jordan that was opening up and told me that the owner wanted to give me a call.
We spoke on the phone and he told me all about Jordan and the radio station that he was launching. It was going to be the first private western radio station in the country and it sounded really exciting.
This was the challenge that I’d been looking for. Being part of something new – bringing the things I’d learned over the year to a new country and market and help create a strong brand that we could all be proud of.
This conversation took place on Valentine’s Day and the next evening I was all packed and on my way to the airport to start a new chapter of my life!
Coming here really has been the best decision I’ve ever made. As soon as I arrived it felt like I’d come home and I honestly can’t imagine ever living anywhere else.
I always say that if you do a job that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life and I feel very privileged that I get to experience this each day.
Why he loves his job
I really do feel that I have the best job in the world. Every morning is a pleasure to go to work.
I’ve been doing the morning show at Play 99.5 now for just over 12 years and there honestly hasn’t been one day when I’ve not woken up really excited to go to the station.
It’s such an honor each day being invited into people’s lives and to be a part of their mornings, it really is a lovely feeling each day.
I like how every day is different. I’d hate to be tied to the same routine day in, day out. Each day you’re talking about different things and hearing from different people. If I can go to work each morning and make just one person’s morning a little better and give someone an extra reason to smile then it’s a job well done and this is my motivation each day.
I have no interest in being well known or being ‘famous’ – that’s not me at all and I don’t feel comfortable with lots of attention.
I’m actually a really shy person which people find hard to believe…..but it’s 100% true as any of my friends and people that really know me will tell you. When I’m out, you’ll usually find me in the corner then I can hide out of the way.
I’ve never felt the need to be one of those people that has to have people telling them all the time they’re amazing or only being happy when they get a certain number of likes on photos they post – the only justification I look for is knowing my work has made someone smile and to come across on the show like you’re listening to a friend and not a presenter.
Like I said…best job in the world!
Outside of work… who is Lee?
Football & Flying
Being from Liverpool, I’m a big football fan and support Liverpool (Sorry Barcelona & Real Madrid fans). I’m also really into aviation too – anything to do with flying and airplanes really gets me excited. I was having flying lessons before I moved to Jordan and would love to continue them at some point.
I like to think one day when I finally decide that waking up at 5am for 15 years has caught up with me, I’ll move into a flying career – this would also be a dream come true.
I enjoy cooking for friends too. It’s a really nice feeling when you’ve spent a couple of hours in the kitchen preparing something and you see the people around the table all coming together and enjoying what you’ve made for them
And finally, I just enjoy relaxing and passing the time with good friends. I’ve got a very small group of close friends that I love spending time with. Being around them, catching up and watching the world go by is a really nice way to end the day.