Belfast Telegraph

'I have turned down offers of more money to stay with the BBC' says Stephen Nolan

By Chris Woodhouse

Stephen Nolan claims he has turned down offers of better money from rival broadcasters to stay with the BBC.

The host of the “biggest show in the country” made the revelation in an interview with Sunday Life as he continued to face pressure to state his Beeb pay packet.

Nolan also described the shocking moment he found out he was losing his right-hand man, Nolan Show editor David Gordon, to a job in Stormont.

The broadcaster’s pay has been the source of controversy since Sunday Life first revealed his company had cash reserves of £700,000 in 2012 and how its funds rose by more than £300,000 in a year. By 2015 its assets stood at £1.7m.

When asked if rivals had attempted to poach him from the BBC, he replied: “Yes — a number of broadcasters.

“I’ve had network offers which would have made me more money than I currently earn in the BBC.

“I’m a network radio presenter, I’ve got two Royal Television Society Awards — this is not me bragging — and Nolan Live is one of the most watched shows there is.

“When those types of things happen other people become interested.

“At the moment my heart is here — my heart is with Radio Ulster and Radio 5 Live.”

The 43-year-old has faced pressure for a number of years to reveal how much he is paid by the BBC.

He has always stonewalled questions about his salary, saying that it is for the corporation to decide whether to publish it.

The BBC has declined to reveal the salaries of its stars, but last month the Government announced it was forcing it to make public the salaries of its on-air talent who earn more than £150,000 — and it is expected the Radio 5 and Radio Ulster presenter will be among the elite.

Nolan’s radio show also hit the news headlines recently after it emerged that its editor, David Gordon, had accepted a £75,000-a-year role as an Executive press secretary.

The news caused a political storm when it was revealed that Mr Gordon had been appointed by the First and Deputy First Ministers using powers under the Royal Prerogative, without the post being advertised publicly.

David  Gordon did not tell his boss he had been approached for the big job and only broke the news to him after he had accepted it, while Nolan was on holiday in the US.

“I was in America and David rang me because we had an agreement that if he was leaving or if I was leaving, then we would tell each other as soon as we could,” the radio presenter said.

“David honoured that — he rang me and said that it was a job he didn’t think he could refuse at this stage in life.

“Of course it was a shock because I didn’t know until he told me. He was a key member of the show.

“But we have been the most listened to show in Northern Ireland for 11 years.

“David has been with us for five of those years and I am confident that we will continue to challenge the Government as much as we have done.

“We will recruit now to replace David. There’s a very experienced team here, some of whom have been with me eight or nine years. I have no hesitation in describing him as the most knowledgeable political journalist I know, and he’s a man of integrity. The Government is very lucky to have him.

“David knows how many questions he will be getting from us, and I can guarantee that we will be keeping Mr Gordon very, very busy.”

Nolan’s latest series, Made In Northern Ireland, throws open the garden shed door on some of the budding backyard inventors who have been beavering away in the hope of hitting the big time.

Part of the motivation to do the new show was to balance  out what he described as the more negative parts of life in Northern Ireland, which the radio show tackles.

“It’s people from their bedrooms, garages and terraced houses with not necessarily a lot of money behind them making it happen,” Stephen told Sunday Life.

“I admire them and it’s very exciting. The really inspiring thing is that they are already exporting to other parts off the world — not an awful lot, but they are sending their products to the likes of Germany and America.

“Some of them are quite young  — 18, 19 or 20 — so it’s quite a positive story about Northern Ireland.”

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