Good morning, Hampshire - Alina Jenkins
PUBLISHED: 15:46 20 October 2010 | UPDATED: 10:46 15 July 2019
Sarah Peters talks to Alina Jenkins, the voice of BBC Radio Solent's Early Morning Music Show, about getting up at 4am and why she adores her work
By the time we speak at 11am, Alina Jenkins has already been up for eight hours. She has done a bit of house work, done a spot of shopping, thrown on a wash and, oh yes, broadcast the BBC Radio Solent's Early Morning Music Show to thousands of Hampshire listeners.
Six days a week she is out of the house by 4am (it's enough to make your eyes water) but for Alina it's become a way of life and at the moment she wouldn't have it any other way.
"Oh, it's not that bad!" she laughs. "Once you get used to it, it just becomes what you do. I miss my 4am journey to work when I take a holiday. I witness beautiful sunrises and dawn mists. I get to see part of the day that most people don't ever see."
I'm still not sold on the idea... no matter how pretty the dawn looks over a sleepy Hampshire.
"No, really," she insists, laughing. "It's rather lovely to see the changing seasons and nature on my way to work. And, when I get there, I just love my job."
This I can believe. Since joining BBC Radio Solent, Alina has been the traffic and weather presenter prior to getting her own show and she is a hugely popular member of the team.
"When I get to work, it's a ghost town; no one is around. By 7am people start to trickle in and by 8am everyone arrives looking fresh-faced with smart clothes and perfect make-up. I look like a mess: jeans, a fleece and my hair dragged into a ponytail. I don't miss having to wear full make-up for television. That's the beauty of radio. I can sound happy and awake even if I look less than glamorous!"
Alina agrees that it takes a particular person to manage the early starts. "Some listeners are coming home from late shifts, others are just getting up. Of course, I am often tired myself, but if you smile when you speak, it makes your voice sound positive and you can still be gentle."
Friend to the stars
Alina was born in Eastleigh and raised in Horton Heath, near Fair Oak. She attended Fair Oak School and when she left she enrolled in Laine Theatre Arts in Epsom where she studied theatre, acting and dance. She was a contemporary of Victoria Beckham.
"I lived with Victoria for the first year of college in Cheam. She actually got me my first dancing job on a cruise ship, the MV Marco Polo. I cruised for seven months; saw some of the most spectacular places on earth. By the time I came home I had decided dancing was not for me. I enjoyed the trip, but dancing is such a hard business. The idea of queuing with hundreds of other girls to audition still fills me with dread!"
Alina got her first television job after sending in a demo tape to the BBC. So impressed were they that they hired her, and after six months intense training with the Met Office, she was on screen presenting the weather for BBC South Today. And, she loves it!
"I had so much fun, I really did. Presenting a programme I'd watched growing up was great. I was so proud. I presented from Osbourne House, the Spinnaker Tower and with all the boats at Cowes week. I even did the weather from a rollercoaster at Paulton's Park once, which was a real giggle."
So after five great years why did she stop? "I was missing out on spending time with Max, our son, and I didn't like that. I now have a better life balance." she admits. Her family is very important to her and they enjoy sampling the local bistros and restaurants. "We like really nice food: but casual places, nothing too formal." She reels off a long list of favourites: The John Barleycorn, in Cadnam, for great tapas; the Old Forge in Otterbourne for marvellous seafood platters; Hotel Terravina, in Netley Marsh, for divine dinners and Eagens in Lymington for unbeatable quality and friendly service.
Despite their busy schedules, she likes to bring the family together at least once a week for a big family meal. "I'll do lamb shanks or a nice roast or beef in Guinness. I like doing slow cooking recipes. My husband bought me a beautiful present a couple of years ago. It was a day cookery course at le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons in Oxfordshire. It was just exquisite. I have the certificate to prove it hanging on the wall. I am hinting that I want to go back again."
Out and about
They also enjoy exploring the New Forest and Lepe Country Park. "We love being outdoors and there are so many beautiful places to choose from. We enjoy walking a lot, especially round the Forest.
We seem to have less time now as we spend many weekends watching our son's sporting fixtures. I enjoy the cricket actually; it's rather relaxing and civilized."
She admits, that she sometimes gets more nervous watching her son take a serve in a tennis match than broadcasting to the whole of Hampshire: "I suppose I get a bit twitchy when he is playing solo sports. I get nervous for him and sometimes can't even look, especially when he's playing against bigger boys. Although, he does do quite well actually."
When she's not working, or taxiing her son around the county, Alina's greatest pleasure is reading.
"Reading a book and not being interrupted is the greatest treat for me," she coos. "It happens so rarely. It is especially indulgent if I have a glass of wine in my hand too. I love Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy, Carlos Ruiz Zafón's Shadow of the Wind and Captain Corelli's Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières. I also like a good thriller: P.D. James and Kate Atkinson. I'd happily read a book a day."
Alina agrees she is in "a happy place" at the moment and she intends to enjoy it. She loves her work and concedes, "It is the perfect job for me." Having listened to her radio show and chatted with her too, she's right. She is the perfect person for the job and I bet that thousands of people who wake up to Alina's smiling voice and charming nature every morning would agree!