Andy Kershaw, “Maracas from Caracas”

Andy Kershaw stopped by Coventry University to give a special 15-minute preview of his upcoming autobiography, “No Off Switch” out this July.

It is easy to see how Kershaw has done so well in his career. It has been full of surprises and often thrived due to him being in the right place at the right time. He confesses: “I’m the luckiest man I’ve ever met.”

Kershaw chose to study politics at Leeds University, mainly due to it hosting the biggest music concerts in the country, but also as he hoped dabble in journalism. In his second year he was given the opportunity to work as Entertainment Secretary at the many concerts that frequented Leeds, which he did for two and a half years. Subsequently, he failed his politics degree.

Enthusiastic recounts of his past experiences prove how grateful he is for the life he leads. It also displays his continuing passion for journalism and its surprising twists and turns that have so far, formed a very entertaining career. Writes Jennifer Horsman…

Kershaw sought a career in journalism after finding himself at the centre of, for him, a special historical moment. He fondly recalled how at the age of 14 he was a witness to a piece of motoring history at the Tourist Trophy in the Isle of Man, much to the envy of his classmates. This ignited his passion and his hunger for journalism was instigated.

 A career like Kershaw’s didn’t come without its struggles, though. He describes his frustration at Bob Geldof surrounding Live Aid, saying how Geldof didn’t believe African artists were worthy of sharing a stage with the likes of Paul McCartney and Elton John. Also recounting their few run-ins, where he describes Geldof as doing “a great impression of a rock star on cocaine.”

 There have also been many surreal times, most notably during his trips to North Korea, where he pestered the boarder patrols for 7 years before being allowed in. During a trip to a bizarre friendship museum, the tour guide proudly showed off the many different rooms – each country themed – each containing hundreds of objects. One room had a stuffed tiger standing on one leg, holding a drinks tray, with a huge smile on its face. Another room had a pair of maracas in a glass box, apparently a gift to North Korea by Vietnam, which the tour guide joyfully commented to Kershaw on his luck in seeing the “maracas from Caracas.”

 In 2008 Kershaw was sent to prison, where he spent three months for breaching the terms of a restraining order put in place by his ex-partner. Although an annoyance for Kershaw, who believes he didn’t do anything wrong along with many others, he spent 49 days reading 32 books. “Boredom is my greatest enemy,” he remarks on his time in prison, though apart from that he didn’t mind much. He does state that the only judge for his actions should be his children, saying he would never put any one in any kind of danger, and that the restraining order against him was uncalled for and unnecessary.

 Nevertheless, Kershaw is looking forward to the release of his autobiography. Expecting a release in July, he is preparing for months of publicity he’s about to endure.

 Kershaw has had a phenomenal career and from the one hour he sat down to talk, he wasn’t able to tell even half of it. From being a television presenter, to a radio show host, to being caught in the middle of gunfire in a story that was covering the Rwanda Genocide. He has met Mike Tyson, which came about after a most unexpected situation, and has several comical anecdotes about the Radio 1 Christmas dinner parties.

 With next to nothing in the journalistic training department, there is no doubt that Kershaw has had an incredible career. With no signs of slowing down, it certainly seems he has the winning formula, with his belief that all you need is to be mischievous, enthusiastic and nosy in order to succeed.

 Andy Kershaw: No Off Switch (Autobiography). Expected July 2011.

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