Heaven and Hell: Stephen 'Foz' Foster

Suffolk DJ Stephen 'Foz' Foster

Suffolk DJ Stephen 'Foz' Foster - Credit: Contributed

Stephen, or Foz as he's affectionately known, is one of this region's most experienced broadcasters.

He began his professional radio career at Radio Orwell and Saxon Radio in 1982.

Eight years later Foz landed his dream job with the BBC joining BBC Radio Suffolk where he spent the next 30 years.

For the second half of his tenure at the Beeb Foz presented the popular Drivetime show.

He left the BBC at the beginning of this year to become a freelance broadcaster, voice-over artist and writer.

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Foz was soon asked by Radio Caroline to do a weekly show for them which in many ways has brought him full circle as it was Radio Caroline that got him hooked on both radio and music in 1974.

Foz was born and bred in Ipswich where he lives with his partner Maggie.

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His many other interests include football, speedway, theatre, film and travel. Here he talks to Gina Long.

What’s the impact of Covid-19 and how are you adapting?

The pandemic has really focused my mind on the important things in life.

At the time of writing I have just had my second jab and it does feel like we're all coming to the end of this nightmare.

I'm touching wood as I tell you I have been extremely lucky to have avoided the virus but I take absolutely nothing for granted in this world.

My heart goes out to all the families and friends of those who have lost their lives during the Covid-19 pandemic.

I have taken this opportunity to re-evaluate my life and as I look for new challenges and projects I am fortunate enough to have the wonderful support of my family and friends. 

What is your connection to East Anglia?

I was born at Ipswich Hospital on Halloween in 1959 and have lived in my hometown ever since.

I can't imagine being anywhere else.

I won't lie, I've often looked at jobs around the country and have had job interviews down the years at Radios 1 and 2, BBC London and Capital Radio, but it looks like I'm destined to stay in the best part of the UK and that's absolutely fine by me!

What is your East Anglian Heaven, i.e. what do you love most about East Anglia?

It's got to be the Suffolk coast.

Ever since childhood I've loved coastlines and in particular Suffolk's.

One of my absolute favourite areas is Shingle Street and Orfordness.

A few years back I was lucky to visit Orfordness lighthouse and I'll cherish that day in much as the same way as I loved going up the lighthouse in Southwold.

I adore the peace and tranquillity that much of the Suffolk coast brings. 

What is your East Anglian Hell, i.e what you hate most about living here?

Hate is a strong word but as you've asked I do hate the fact that when it comes to roads and to some extent public transport a large part of this region is a poor relation.

It never ceases to amaze me how given its importance to the nation the Port of Felixstowe has to rely on an often patched up A14 and A12 and a single track rail line.

Also very little has been done to ensure that as many local people as possible can buy homes in the place they were born and/or brought up.  

What are your favourite East Anglian restaurants?

I'm not sure we have enough room here for me to list them all but Kesgrave Hall near Ipswich has become a big favourite in recent times.

The food and service is always excellent and whenever I host an event in The Hangar there I am assured a warm welcome.

Another great place to eat is The Greyhound in Ipswich which serves superb meals in a pub setting. 

What’s your favourite East Anglian landmark?

It was the Orfordness lighthouse but now that's disappeared I'll go for the Willis building in Ipswich.

I worked there for six years before getting into radio full-time and got to know the place like the back of my hand.

Designed by Sir Norman Foster, it has aged much better than I have.

I learnt to swim there and made many friends there, many of whom I still see on a regular basis.

What’s the best thing that happens in East Anglia every year?

Without a doubt Ipswich Music Day closely followed by Latitude, FolkEast and Maverick. I do like my music festivals.

What's your specialist Mastermind subject?

Dr Feelgood, the rhythm and blues band from Canvey Island whose manager Chris Fenwick once told me I know more about the group than the band members themselves do.

What is always in your fridge?

Tonic water and chocolate.

What’s your simple philosophy of life?

Respect everyone and everything unless there's a very good reason not to.

Given that we all enter and exit this world in the same way and all breathe the same air I really don't think any one person is better than another. 

What’s your favourite film?

Mystery Train which sparked my love of most things Memphis, Tennessee

What was your first job?

Postal messenger in the Willis Faber and Dumas post room in 1976/7. I grew up quickly working with the characters in there. 

What is your most treasured possession?

A set of Dr Feelgood Toby jugs.

Who do you admire most?

The late John Peel. He was a truly great broadcaster with no apparent ego.

John was very much his own man and there's a lot to said for that. 

What is your biggest indulgence?

Buying CDs. I know they're unfashionable these days but when you've collected as many as I have since the mid-1980s you can't turn your back on them!

What do you like about yourself most?

The ability to laugh at some politicians who, quite frankly, I wouldn't trust to run me a bath. 

What’s your worst character trait?

I have the attention span of a gnat. Sorry, what was the question again?

Where is your favourite holiday destination?


Best day of your life?

It's got to be the day my son Joe was born closely followed the Ipswich Town FA Cup 30 year reunion event which I hosted in 2008.

Spending so much time in Sir Bobby Robson's company was really special.

What’s your favourite breakfast?

I rarely have breakfast unless I'm on holiday when I usually feel obliged to take advantage of the breakfast included in the deal!

What’s your favourite tipple?

Pilsner lager. I think I may have single handedly kept Holsten in business in the 1990s.

What’s your hidden talent?

Still haven't found it. 

What’s your earliest memory?

Watching Pinky and Perky on TV

Tell us something people don’t know about you?

I'm partial to the singing of Perry Como

What’s the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?

I look like Alan Carr.

Tell us why you live here and nowhere else?

It's in my heart and in any case I doubt anywhere else would have me.

What do you want to tell our readers about most?

I have some exciting news which will come out very soon.

In the meantime I am loving my new roles as stadium announcer at Portman Road and presenter on Radio Caroline.

There’s lots more in the diary as I discover there is life outside the BBC. 

If you have a story, email gina@hallfarmfornham.com or follow Twitter: @geewizzgee1 Instagram: @ginalong_geewizz

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