How does one become an "expert" in traffic?
I always wanted to be a professional cricketer. But the more I played, the more clear it became that my chosen profession didn't want to choose me. I've become an enthusiastic follower of the game instead.
As a kid, the other thing I loved was the radio, and I always fancied playing songs for a living. Listeners to "Junior Choice" in the mid-to-late 70s would have heard that seven-year-old Paul wanted to be a DJ when he grew up, prompting Ed Stewart to ask if DJs ever grow up.
But I did, and I did become a DJ, but by the time I'd started playing songs, I'd (through growing up) become keen on news as well, so trained as a journalist alongside fantastic reporters such as Damian Grammaticas, Vicky Young and Chris Hogg. They ended up as high-profile BBC reporters, whilst I moved into the commercial sector. I started working on the Virgin Radio Newsdesk, which at the time was provided by a company called Metro, which was primarily a traffic news company, providing reports for radio stations.
From my seat on the newsdesk, I used to watch the traffic reporters and editors gathering information, and I admit I got frustrated at their lack of journalistic technique. I used to moan to the then Ops Director, a brilliant bloke called Jag, that they could do so much better. To cut a long story short I ended up taking a job running the information gathering and operational management of the traffic team. I thought I'd do it for six months to gain some management experience. That was early in 2000. I'm still doing traffic.
Somehow, I've been part of the executive of the Travel Information Highway, been contract manager for the BBC travel contract, run a company providing the radio station for the Highways Agency, sat on a committee looking at in-car traffic and travel provision post FM switch-off, travelled the world talking travel, finding myself in traffic management centres as far apart as Perth, Western Australia and Kansas City, Missouri.
Somehow this cricket-mad, radio freak has become an expert in traffic information.