LIFE and SOUL
Essex Life|November 2020
Radio 1 broadcaster and producer Charlie Hedges began her career as Britain’s youngest breakfast show host and is now one of the world’s most successful female DJs. Denise Marshall caught up with the Essex-based queen of the air waves
Denise Marshall

After 15 years of living her passion playing dance classics at Kiss FM, Charlie Hedges moved to Radio 1 in early 2019, along with her decade-long co-hosts former Strictly Come Dancing star Melvin Odoom and Rickie Haywood Williams.

Presenting the station’s late evening show throughout the week is the ultimate dream for Charlie, whose road to success can be tracked back to the early start she made aged just 13, interviewing artists in her lunch break at school for a local music magazine. The dedication of starting her days at 4 am for her job as a runner at Kiss, before rushing back for lectures at Harlow College to gain a journalism degree, has definitely paid off.

‘I have to pinch myself,’ laughs Charlie, repeatedly thankful for the privilege of her large fanbase. ‘I have my own mix on Thursdays, Club Charlie. It’s half an hour of me!’

She wishes she’d recorded her family’s reaction when she joined the BBC. ‘I remember calling my mum and dad and they just lost it. Mum cried. They listen every night without fail. My musical background comes from my parents. When I was growing up, we listened to everything from house on Kiss, to reggae, soul and Indie, and I’m really into bands across the board.’

The enforced break of lockdown was a blessing for Charlie who had the rare chance to get stuck into house renovations at her West Essex home, while on the decks remotely.

‘I never thought I’d be doing DJ gigs in my living room, and Instagram sets. It’s given me a bit of time to slow down, as I’m normally 100mph. My brother manages all my bookings and he tells me I don’t know when to stop. There’s been enough times I’ve played Ibiza on the Friday, Greece on the Saturday, travelled Sunday and been back to work on Monday. That’s fine for me, I can completely manage, but people outside look in and ask when I sleep.’

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