Over the coming days and weeks there will rightly be a huge number of tributes to Steve Hewlett, the presenter of Radio 4’s Media Show, who has died from cancer aged just 58.
I have one memory of him that probably tells you an awful lot about the kind of man he was.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of appearing on television with Hewlett to discuss the ongoing Levenson inquiry. It was pretty early in my career and I was rather intimidated by the prospect of discussing such a major media story with the presenter of the Media Show. I need not have been.
He gave the space to make my points on air, and could hardly have been more friendly off air. He spoke to me, asking my opinion on the issues we’d discussed after our section finished. As we walked down the stairs of the Millbank studio in Westminster, this man who had orders of magnitude more experience than me, was still chatting away. He was not just making small talk either. He was picking my brain on the finer points of the Leveson inquiry, and bothering to listen to my answer.
Kind behaviour like that is not a given in the media. Certainly not from people who have organised interviews with Princess Diana. I’ve been in green rooms with people who don’t give their fellow guests the time of day. Steve Hewlett showed me, a relative nobody, the kind of respect he showed to major guests on his show every week.
Hewlett’s attitude during our brief interaction speaks volumes about him. It is a terrible shame that we will not have the pleasure of hearing him speaking and explaining the messy world of media to us any more.