“I used to think that there were successful people and then people like me.” – In conversation with Jake Humphrey
Jake Humphrey is a broadcaster and television presenter known for his coverage of various sporting events in Football and Formula One. He is the co-host of the High Performance podcast, through which he interviews successful individuals about their lives and careers. The Podcast is coming on tour to locations across the country, including Oxford.
What inspired you to set up the High Performance podcast?
“The inspiration probably dates back to when I was a young lad growing up. I used to think that there were successful people and then people like me. I’m from a normal house with a dad who was a charity worker and a mum who was a teacher. It was only when I failed my A Levels and stumbled into TV that people said there’s nothing special about celebrities. They’re consistent, they follow their hearts and can accept setbacks. All these messages really resonated, and I wanted to share them, but thought that no one would listen to a guy from CBBC. I met a professor called Damian Hughes a few years back and asked if he would consider doing a podcast with me. That was the moment that created High Performance”.
What does the High Performance podcast tour look like?
“Bringing it to the stage was scary to me – I’ve spent my life talking to a TV camera, so theatres are a bit nerve-wracking! I wanted to bring all the lessons from the podcast and turn it into a stage show which has a real impact on people.”.
Sport and mental health is a hot topic at the moment, and something which you’ve discussed on the podcast. Do you think enough is being done to help sportspeople cope with fame and its effects?
“No, I definitely don’t think there’s enough being done. All the traits that sportspeople have are the same things that could push them down the path of mental health challenges too. That desire to be the best can have a negative impact at a young age. Although there’s more conversation than ever, there’s a real risk of complacency too. I’m really lifted that we’ve had so many sportspeople on the podcast talking in such an open way about mental health”.
You recently had Jill Scott MBE on your podcast. How do you think we can encourage more girls and women to take up sport?
“It has to start at a young age and it’s a mindset for parents. We should allow our kids to explore and see what they want to do. And Jill Scott has broken down doors for young girls -if my daughter Florence was born 15 years ago and wanted to be a professional footballer, she couldn’t have been. Now the possibilities are endless”.
What did you learn from your discussion with Sir Keir Starmer?
“The biggest thing for me is learning about people, regardless of their politics. When you talk to Sir Keir, there’s a warmth there, compassion. We live in a society where opinion is so prevalent. Let’s see what happens when we put empathy over opinion. I’d love to repeat the interview with Rishi Sunak and see what he’s like too”.
Lots of our readers, including me, remember you from your CBBC presenting days. How did that experience shape your career?
“It was amazing. I sit and watch CBBC with my kids and they’re like ‘what? You used to do that?!’. People always ask me how to make it as a journalist or broadcaster, and the great thing is that there’s more opportunities than ever to build your brand. CBBC was the golden days – zero stress, no social media, loads of fun. But broadcasting is more exciting than ever now.”
I’m also a Norwich City fan and have to ask: what do you think about the potential of Norwich getting into the playoffs and heading back up to the Premier League? Do you think we’ve got the team for it?
“I think we’ve got the team to go up, we’ve got the quality. My big worry is: what’s the end goal? We don’t want to get beaten every week and the most important thing is having a smart, sustainable football club. That doesn’t work with the spending required in the Premier League. Weirdly, I’m more relaxed about which league we’re in. Either way, being a Norwich fan is rarely dull, is it?!”.