Among the T-shirt-clad rock monsters of Xfm Scotland, Heather Suttie stands out; passionate, engaging, vivacious and friendly and the only chick on the daytime line up. She’s born to chat, to interview, to extract the details from the personalities and the artists who pass through the station. She is a natural.
However, when we turn the microphone on HER, some fascinating facts emerge – her keen interest in science, a plan to turn around the fortunes of Stirling Albion… and we ask her those showbiz questions too – which country diva does she love, which Britpop hellraiser turns out to be a ‘fantastic guy’, and which current act turn out to be ‘twats’? All these questions (apart from the last one on the advice of Xfm Scotland’s lawyers) are answered below…
“She’s the only one here who dresses up for work,” jokes Dominik Diamond as he shows me through to the studio where Xfm Scotland’s drivetime presenter, Heather Suttie, is waiting for me. And yes, she’s resplendent in a sparkly dress over jeans and boots and immaculately made up, despite suffering, she confesses, from a hangover after a late gig and party from the night before. “I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol,” she confides.
Despite the confident exterior that comes across both on air and on TV, being on the receiving end of the microphone is something she’s less used to.
“Some people love talking about themselves,” she says. “Not me, I’m keen to learn about other people and am much more interested in what they have to say!”
Feeling a tad uncomfy she laughs, “It’s always me who does the interviews!”. And while the Xfm webcam may catch the presenters off guard on occasion, Heather’s eye for presentation is more a habit picked up in her previous job.
“I cut my teeth for ITV2 in 1999 doing live interviews with bands like Terrorvision, Travis, Feeder and Sir Paul McCartney,” she recalls. “I’m lucky enough to have done both radio and TV. They’re both hard work and an utter blast and it’s like anything – what you put in you get out,” she continues. “People who are good at what they do make it look easy!”
For Heather, the thrill of live broadcasting is unbeatable. A once in a lifetime experience whilst in Florida filming for a BBC science show saw her competing to become an astronaut and nailing a 15 second piece to camera as Space Shuttle Endeavour launched for the 101st time over her shoulder, a part of history and she was applauded by NBC and CNN crews for nailing one of the trickiest reporting jobs ever.
Back down to earth, Heather is happy with relatively sedentary broadcasting, which still has its moments. “You never know what you’ll get from a guest, I love the unpredictability of it. Some of the best ones have been with small bands.” She cites Goldie Lookin’ Chain, The Dykeenies, Lily Allen, The Rifles and Franz Ferdinand as groups she’s particularly enjoyed talking to of late, Alex and the boys being “professional and generous”.
They’re not all quite as easy to talk to, however.
“Some bands can be twats, but you meet them socially and they’re entirely different,” she reveals. “Of course they may ‘let their music do the talking’, which is fair enough, but in that case, don’t do radio interviews!”
Again, guests who have plenty to say for themselves are the interviewer’s dream, so it’s unsurprising that she’d like to get to grips with Noel Gallagher, who she has met socially.
“He’s a prime example of someone who has a persona for the media – when you get to it over a beer he’s a fantastic, warm and very very funny guy whose interesting and interested, but I suppose that doesn’t sell records or get you headlines, does it?!”
So would an on-form Noel be the dream interview?
“I’m not choosy, I’ll take whomever is on offer! I like chatting to anyone – taxi drivers, barstaff, strangers in a queue. As long as they’re not interviewing me!” she adds, mock-seriously.
But the big-name celebrities, that’s what we want to hear about. “Dolly Parton. I know it’s not cool to say that!” she laughs. “But Dolly’s show in Glasgow was a top gig,” she enthuses. “She was incredible – she sang, told stories, made us laugh, made us cry, she played loads of different instruments, she’s an all-round performer.”
“Ralph Lawson’s 20-20 sound system is one I’ve not had it off my iPod. I like Soulwax Too Many DJs, McSleazy, The Rapture, The Guillemots… I could go on.
“I like the stuff we play, it’s very rare we have anything on the playlist I don’t love or really like.”
It seems like Xfm would be her dream station. “I miss a bit of country and disco though!” Her tastes seem to veer between extremes.
“I like either hi-nrg stuff that’s going to make me feel good, or stuff that’s really chilled. Nothing in the middle.”
Heather has already quizzed me on my favourite books and my holiday – there must be something of the workaholic in her. Does she ever switch off?
“I don’t really see this as a job – I love doing this! Anyway, I’ll play table tennis, walk my dog… I live for holidays, hence the tan, I’m just back from Italy. And stuff like buying music, reading, DJing, parties, seeing my pals… and movies,” she remembers. She’s about to start learning poker and is seriously considering starting a band called The P.M.s so that she can play on the same bill as the guys from the Dominik Diamond Breakfast Show.
She even manages to combine two of her favourite things ; interviewing and table tennis, which she’s put to good use with Keanu Reeves and Billy Boyd.
And she seems to devour magazines and pop culture. “I can do 3 or 4 movies a week either on DVD or at the cinema. Recently Lucky Number Slevin, Amelie, Deuce Bigalow, Walk The Line, The Constant Gardener, and Thankyou For Smoking have all figured somewhere”
So, it seems Heather’s pretty much in her dream job, so what else is there left? What boxes are unchecked?
“I always wanted to do medicine but never got the grades at school, but I’m also rubbish with needles, and blood makes me keel over!” she laughs. However, there are – it seems – a couple of ambitions left.
“Number one: is managing a band. And make a TV music show about travelling, a bit like ‘Holiday’ with a band.” Which would bear further discussion if it wasn’t for the other dream job. “Number 2 is managing a football team.”
I did state ‘dream job’ but Heather is serious. “Alex McLeish told me I’d not have a hope in hell and that made me 10 times more determined to do it!”
In these days of ‘director of football’ and ‘coach’ I’m not exactly sure what the name for Heather’s post is, but it’s less about tactics and more the psychology of winning. “The team talk at half time – Mourinho and Ferguson have the skill to talk people round… [when Liverpool played Roma and came back from 3-0 down to win]… what did Gerard Houllier say in that dressing room?”
Her love of football has been indulged of late with the World Cup. Nicknamed ‘The Blonde Nostradamus of the World Cup’ she forecast the last six winners not including her prediction on Italy lifting the trophy. “Maybe I should take up gambling!?” she jokes.
Heather Suttie presents Drivetime on Xfm Scotland – weekdays, from 4 – 7pm.
2020: Heather is now a freelance producer, creating content, video and podcasts, as well as a keen environmentalist. She’s still glamourous and still loves vintage clothing – find her on Instagram at @onetaketelly.