Andy interviewed Michael Jordan - but forgot to turn on recorder


RADIO presenter Andy Jacobs can come across as 'that grumpy bloke' who regularly - and quite happily - blocks people on Twitter.

His vitriolic rants if his beloved Chelsea lose have become a recurring theme on talkSPORT - as has his penchant for dismissing certain people and subjects as "pathetic".

However, the 60-year-old is anything but cranky.

In fact, Andy, who hosts talkSPORT's Hawksbee and Jacobs every weekday afternoon from 1pm, is warm, funny and affable.

"I don't suffer fools gladly and don't have any tolerance for idiots," he told me.

"What annoys me on Twitter is that you can write that it is a nice day and then someone will tweet asking what do I know about the weather?

"I have blocked 3,000 people so far, I am proud to say."

Andy and Paul Hawksbee have presented their popular show since 1998.

But Andy came into the media world quite late, as he used to work in men's fashion.

The Londoner recalled: "When (magazine) FHM started, it was handed out free in menswear shops.

"In 1986 the publisher told me he was thinking of turning it into a trade magazine.

"I'd already contributed stories and he asked me if I would become its editor.

"To be honest, I did a lot of bluffing, even though I wrote 90 per cent of it on my own.

"Luckily, I had useful art directors who helped me out a lot.

"The explosion for FHM happened a couple of years after I had left, with the launch of 'lads' mags'.

"I left because I had a fall-out with the publishers - they wanted to bring in an editor above me, which I thought was a load of rubbish."

Andy was born and raised in London to Stella and Jack. His grandfather Harry Jacobs moved to the capital from Hull. His father now lives in France.

Andy's maternal side, the Costas, were Sephardim and his great-great uncle, Sam Costa, was a popular singer of the British dance band era and later presented radio programmes on the BBC.

Andy started supporting Chelsea as the Blues were the closest club to him after the family relocated to London.

"I originally watched Chelsea from 1957 to 1982," Andy said. "Then there were a lot of problems with racism and hooligans at Stamford Bridge.

"There were songs against Jews, hissing noises etc and I had enough of it.

"I went back in 1990 when I decided to take my two boys, who were then seven and eight.

"And then Roman Abramovich happened."

After FHM, Andy contacted Derek Brandon, a television producer who founded Cheerleader Productions and made his name producing American football for the Channel 4.

A passionate fan of American sports, Andy wrote many letters to him and was persistent in asking for a job.

He ended up working for Derek's company for three years, producing series on American sport.

Perhaps the biggest break of his career came when Andy helped to launched Fantasy Football League on BBC2 with David Baddiel and Frank Skinner.

The programme saw the duo sitting in a mocked-up flat, interviewing guest celebrities and generally taking the mickey.

Andy, who is married to Sue, went on to produce 70 of its shows.

"It was unique and struck a chord with football fans," he recalled.

"It was a good time for football, the Premier League had just started and football was making a comeback - it became sexy.

"Up until 1990, football was the pariah of world sport and was not in a healthy state."

Every episode saw David and Frank meet a former footballer to recreate a famous incident. The segment was known as Phoenix From The Flames.

And, for the one featuring former Israeli international and Liverpool defender Avi Cohen, Andy dressed as a rabbi.

The clip is available to view at the Jewish Museum London's recently-launched Four Four Jew exhibition.

Andy first met Paul Hawksbee when he was trying to find someone to work on Fantasy Football.

"Paul said it sounded like the perfect job for him, so I told him to come in and see me," he added. "We hit it off straight away."

The duo were asked to head development at production company Avalon Television - but it didn't prove to be too successful.

"We ended up sitting in an office all day, staring at each other and playing games," Andy said.

"We listened to talkSPORT, or talkRadio, as it was called then, and thought 'we could do this'.

"So I wrote to them, telling them that I did hospital radio when I was 21, and that I knew a lot about sport.

"The rest, as they say, is history. We meet at 7am to plan the show," father-of-two Andy explained.

"Paul is a top comedy writer, so we write the scripts together - we have a lot of say about what goes on in the show.

"As a sports nut, I have had the chance to meet some amazing people, such as Gary Sobers and Ian Botham.

"The only time I was really star-struck was when I was in Orlando to interview (basketball legend) Michael Jordan.

"At the end of the interview, I found that I had forgotten to switch on my tape recorder."

He added that the more monosyllabic a guest can be, which has happened occasionally, the more inclined he is to speak louder.

One of their most popular segments is Clips of the Week, which features talkSPORT presenters or callers dropping howlers.

And a book of the same name by Andy and Paul is due for release in December.

Although he is not a big fan of organised religion, he said: "I watched Simon Schama's Story of The Jews and I am very proud to be Jewish."

He added that "I can't be doing with kosher," but won't work on Yom Kippur.

He is, however, supportive of the campaign to ban the word 'Yid' from football stadia.

"It is such a complex issue," Andy explained. "My initial thought was, well, who's going to stop the Tottenham fans from singing it?

"But, after a lot of thought, I think it is something we can all live without - it doesn't matter how well-intentioned they think it is. It is derogatory and horrible language."

© 2013 Jewish Telegraph