The Definitive Guide to Living in the Capital , Cairo , Egypt

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We Sat Down With Nile FM’s Rob Stevens and Talked Cartoons, Cairo, and Career

We Sat Down With Nile FM’s Rob Stevens and Talked Cartoons, Cairo, and Career
written by
Omar Yousry

We had previously gotten the chance to interview one of Nile FM’s newest voices, Mohannad. More recently we got to sit down with the radio station’s very host, and Program Director, Rob Stevens;  the man who helps thousands of listeners through the long trip home each an every day, on the Nile FM Drive.

Who is Rob – is he the same guy on the radio, as he is off of it?

Honestly I don’t know – sometimes I’m exactly myself on the radio, other times I’m a slightly more animated version of myself. I’ve never tried being someone else on the radio; I feel that you should always be yourself and be natural – I’m just me.

How did you find yourself behind a radio mic?

There was a station that I always wanted to be on, one that I always used to listen to. I used to pretend that I was on it and record myself. When I was young, I used to record myself anyway; I used to have discos in my bedroom…by myself, and just play music. I used to tape stuff off the radio and then try and cut out the presenter talking. Then I started recording the presenter, and I started noticing the way they would say things, and do things.

I first got into radio, kind of by accident; I met a guy who was doing a weekend breakfast show and he basically said I could be the producer. I had no idea what I was doing, but this was back in the day before the internet, so there was something called CeeFax; it was like data sent out for TV broadcasts, only you could information like the weather, and certain reviews, from it. My job was to head to Ceefax, and write down the weather for the show’s host, to ensure that he had the information in a piece of paper in front of him. That was pretty much it, and I also just kept him company; I guess he was bored. But the more time I spent at the radio station, the more I loved it.

What’s was the learning curve like for you?

It’s not like you can get straight into it.You have to get a feel for the station, live and breathe that station and there’s so much you can learn behind the scenes. This was especially the case at the station I was working at, Max FM; it was a community station. It’s quite overwhelming when you look at the setup – with every single station being slightly different from the other. 

So what brings an English radio producer/presenter to the Middle East?

My dad is an electrical Engineer and, in the 80’s, he was working for Al Ain Football Club in Abu Dhabib. He was there for four years and we used to visit him. I loved the Middle East; yeah it was boiling hot, but kids got away with everything, and I wanted to be in that kind of situation.

Then my dad moved back to the UK and I eventually started to miss the UAE; I went back on a couple of holidays and I really loved the sun and the heat. The UK is beautiful, but it is a bit dull and grey. So I fell in love with the Middle East

You’ve hosted radio shows in Dubai and Jordan; how does the job here in Egypt compare with them?

Well, in Dubai, 90% of the people are expats from all over the world and that was a nice experience, because you got to learn new things about other people. In Jordan, it was predominantly Jordanians with the occasional expat which was cool. So you take a little of that culture with you. They’re mostly the same, but how you target the audience is slightly different; it’s a learning curve and you learn what people like and what they don’t like just through trial and error.

So how have things been in Cairo so far?

It’s going to take me forever to know it – it’s massive, but I’m getting there. But I know a lot of people that have worked at Nile FM. It’s such a prestigious station and it’s loved by people; one of my friends who used to work here said the listeners are very loyal and they are. They’re not shy; they will tell you what they think. I love the fact that they’re responsive and they truly love Nile FM.

Will we see you with a co-host soon? Or do you prefer working alone?

No, I think alone, because Mark and Sally do a fantastic job, so I don’t want to upset the balance. I’ve had co-hosts before and it’s always fun to add an extra dynamism to the show. At the moment, however, I’m enjoying doing the show by myself.

How do you usually spend your down time?

Eating, and trying to explore and learn more about Egypt! I’d like to visit more touristic attraction. I’m trying to explore the area where I live, research how much things cost, and so on.

If you weren’t a radio host what would you be?

I always wanted to be a policeman in the UK, with the hat and the car, or Knight Rider, or a helicopter pilot – I always wanted to be a pilot. My dad had a way of telling me that all the jobs I had wanted to do would either not be around altogether by the time I was old enough to do them, or that they’re just boring.

Game Time! Tell us the first thing that comes to your mind. 

If you could travel to any country in the world right now, what would it be?


Favorite movie?

The Shawshank Redemption.

Most hated movie?

The one with…it’s so annoying, I really hate it. It’s got that bloke in it. I can’t remember it because I tried to block it from my memory. It’s ‘something translation’? Lost in Translation with Bill Murray! Rubbish.

Favorite artist?

I can’t answer that; it changes, for me music is memories, so all these song I play on Nile FM that I didn’t know, those will be associated to coming to Nile FM. Maybe Om Kolthoum!

Favorite TV show?

My Name is Earl. I was annoyed with it, because it just stopped due to the writer strike. I love watching that after finishing my show, or in the run up to iftar during Ramadan, because time just passes by.

Favorite cartoon?

Family Guy is good. I like Stewie.‘Cool Whip’.