In 2003 30-year-old Hannah Murray swapped London for Spain's Costa del Sol in search of sunshine and adventure. Seven years later she's still there, broadcasting her own radio show on Talk Radio Europe.
The fact that I live abroad comes as little surprise to those who know me; Spain is hardly a brave move compared with the solo travelling I did previously. As soon as I finished my Performing Arts course, aged 18, I went for a celebratory holiday in Greece. I loved it so much I decided to stay and officially caught the travel bug. Then followed six years of travel starting with a ferry to Amsterdam aged 19 with £30 in my back pocket. I upped the budget to £300 for an 18-month tour of Australia, Thailand and New Zealand, although that didn't stop me spending a week between jobs in a sleeping bag on the streets in Airlie Beach, Queensland. But what doesn't kill you…
Within months of being back in the UK I had itchy feet – going abroad was the only option but this time a little closer to home. A characterful Vauxhall Astra accompanied me down through Spain and I planned to settle in whichever spot took my fancy. Puerto Banús, just kilometres from Spain's southernmost tip, was the first spot to do just that. But of course I couldn't afford to live amongst the yachts and Ferraris, so had to draw on well-honed techniques and sleep in the car for a week.
I now live in neighbouring San Pedro de Alcántara. With hindsight, it's a relief I couldn't afford Puerto Banús. Whilst the marina is a glamorous 24-hour party paradise, San Pedro is very much a real vibrant Spanish town and I can afford a comfortable apartment with swimming pool within walking distance of the beach and the radio station where I work.
I certainly never planned to be a radio DJ. Yes, Performing Arts meant that there was media in my mind, but I actually started off telemarketing in real estate – as did most young expats in the early 2000s. The big break came in 2005 when I successfully answered an advert for people “wanting to get into radio”.
I began as a carrier of equipment and then a producer booking guests for The Mary Harboe Show on what was once REM FM. Then, in the summer of 2007, Mary opted for an extended sabbatical and they began looking for a woman in her 40s or 50s to fill the vacancy. This proved to be easier said than done so I, a twenty-something, stepped in temporarily until they found “someone more appropriate”. As we go into the fourth year of The Hannah Murray Show I hope that they've stopped looking!
Due to expansion, the station has been rebranded Talk Radio Europe and broadcasts to half a million English-speaking listeners across the Costa del Sol, Blanca, Cálida and Almería. My show, known as the Daily Magazine Show, goes out Monday to Friday, 1pm to 3pm, and welcomes an eclectic mix of guests from bestselling authors to chart-topping musicians, and medal-winning athletes to Michelin-starred chefs. I am an asset on any pub quiz team! With no producer it's my job to source the guests, so you can imagine the job is far from part-time, but I adore it.
Certainly the best thing about my job is speaking with people whom the regular man on the street generally wouldn't. The other day I realised that I had interviewed no less than 11 authors of the top 20 in WH Smith's paperback book chart – names such as James Patterson, Kate Mosse, Martina Cole – and that really summed it up. I'm incredibly fortunate and privileged.
People ask me who my favourite guests have been and it's really tricky to respond as they're all so different. Recent highlights include Noel Edmonds – so easy to interview and with such a gorgeous broadcasting voice that I stretched his expected five-minute chat to 20; the truly inspirational Louise L. Hay, one of the founders of the self-help movement and author of 35-million-selling You can heal your life, and also Clarissa Baldwin OBE, CEO of Dogs Trust and the woman responsible for coining the phrase “A dog is for life, not just for Christmas”.
As in every job, being a radio DJ does have its downsides. Occasionally people don't understand the importance of live radio and fail to answer the phone when it's time for the interview or to turn up in the studio for a live appearance. It makes me look like I haven't done my job properly. However, bright blue skies and warm sunshine tend to remove the stress in an instant.