Yeah, yeah, yeah!

The first time I came across Jay, I didn’t see him. Rather, I heard him.

He would come into the office of what was then the BBC World Service Trust, and I would hear him chatting to people round the corner. Regular peals of laughter would break out from him and those around him.

A few days later, he came in again. I was curious to find out more about this character, and we got talking. In Jay’s customary way, our conversation soon got onto things we were passionate about. It turned out we were both radio nerds. We started talking about our favourite documentaries and documentary-makers, excited to have found someone who spoke the same language. One day he brought in Alan Hall’s “Wise Guys.” We listened to a bit of it at my desk – and then listened to it again. And again. And a deep friendship was formed.

We started lending each other CDs with our favourite documentaries on. I played him arty, sound-based ones that I was into at the time, and Jay introduced me to the much better types of radio documentaries – the kind that he went on to make. Those with powerful characters, a compelling story, and beguiling sound.

We would have lunch together in the Bush House canteen, Jay would saunter in, his latest favourite book under his arm, and tell me in fast-paced sentences about the latest project he was working on. I’ll never forget the way his face would light up when talking about ideas or history. The “yeah yeah yeah!” when he excitedly agreed with a point you’d just made.

When I think about Jay now, that’s the image in my head – a man who had, in equal measure, curiosity, creativity and intellect. I miss him deeply.

Helena Merriman