Here’s all you need to know about the brave men and women who work so hard to bring you World Have Your Say each day.

Ros Atkins

Ros says 'Keep your comment short!'Ros is a relatively new arrival at the BBC World Service, having made the move from the BBC’s domestic news and sport radio station Five Live. There he specialised in world news and sport so he’s settling in here very well.
Though he hails from Cornwall in the far south-west of England, he also lived in Nassau and Port of Spain while growing up, and began his career in Johannesburg, where he discovered the pleasures of listening to the World Service. On returning to the UK, he edited the website of London’s Time Out magazine before taking the plunge at the BBC.
His knowledge of Africa and the Caribbean has been utilised with reporting trips covering Kenyan corruption, Trinidad and Tobago carnival and Ghana’s progress at the World Cup. Having presented the World Today and the World Service’s arts and entertainment programme The Ticket, Ros is now devoting all his energy to World Have Your Say.

Best WHYS moment:
Helping take the show to Johannesburg in South Africa. It’s a city I’m fascinated by and very fond of, so to go there with World Have Your Say fulfilled a long held ambition. The fact that the shows from Soweto and Sandton were some of the best we’ve done, topped it all off.

Worst WHYS moment:
When three or four people all try and talk simultaneously despite my best efforts to persuade them to take turns. It’s not always anyone’s fault as they may be on a poor phone line and not be aware the others are talking. But whatever the reasons, when it happens it doesn’t sound pretty.

Rabiya Parekh

Rabiya and David plan more radio magicRabiya took a typically conventional route in to the BBC, around 25 applications and 4 gruelling (unsuccessful) interviews, before she finally secured a traineeship as a reporter in local radio.
Rabiya has spent the last three years at the BBC Asian Network, where she was part of a team that launched the very lively mid morning phone in.

Best WHYS moment:
I think it has to be the buzz of doing a programme with a live studio audience through out our week in the US..Presenting and producing that where you can see your audience was second to none.

Worst WHYS moment:
It has got to be telling the world that Moazzam Begg is “tiny”. In fact I think it was something along the lines of..”Oh my God, he’s so tiny”. I hadn’t realised the mic was on.

Mark Sandell

The captain of the WHYS ship, editor Mark SandellMark has spent 22 years in radio news as an average reporter, a pretty poor presenter before becoming a brilliant and charismatic editor. Mark formerly edited the World Today on World Service Radio and before that was in charge of news programmes on Radio 5 Live and Radio 1 for the BBC, having joined the corporation from Capital Radio in London.
Mark has a long history of interactivity trying to make his views heard at Upton Park most Saturdays where he is a West Ham season ticket holder. He divides his spare time between being a real ale judge at the Great British Beer Festival and watching re-runs of the Simpsons. Known as “Mark” to his friends, he is “Mr Sandell” to the rest of the WHYS team.

Best WHYS moment:
The outside broadcasts from Sandton and Soweto in South Africa and New Orleans in the States.

Worst WHYS moment:
All the times we have dodgy phone lines.

Peter van Dyk

Peter checks important emails at Woodrow Wilson HS in WashingtonIf you want a nit picked then look no further – no detail is too small to be argued over. And don’t worry about his curmudgeonly nature – it’s just the result of three decades supporting Watford Football Club. His start in journalism came in late-90s Moscow, but when in 2001 the dot-com bust hit the prospects of a young web site editor he joined the BBC. Radio may not be rocket science, but on the days that it feels like it is, Peter likes to point to his Masters degree in Space Science hanging in an embossed frame on the wall.

Best WHYS moment:
Being in Preservation Hall for the New Orleans broadcast. After hearing the residents speak so eloquently and passionately about their struggles since Hurricane Katrina I wanted to shake the hand of each and every one of them.

Worst WHYS moment:
Reading out emails on the first ever World Have Your Say – when the topic was Iran and President Ahmadinejad. Now I can pronounce it just fine…

Martin Vennard

I’m known by some on the WHYS team as Tommy, but not by anyone else. I worked in the World Service newsroom for 4.5 years before joining WHYS full-time in July 2007, although I had done freelance shifts on the programme since it started in the autumn of 2005.

Before joining the newsroom I worked in the French team at BBC Monitoring for 5 years, translating French-language news into English.

I started off in journalism in local papers in the North of England, working for esteemed organs such as the Hexham Courant and the Newcastle Journal.

My worst WHYS moment came when I didn’t turn the recorder on properly when interviewing the head of the World Service about the kidnapping of our colleague Alan Johnston. There was nothing on the disc when I tried to listen back to it.

My best WHYS moment came when I visited one of our listener’s homes for breakfast during our trip to Namibia.

Ben Tobias

Ben arrived at the World Service fresh from university with a degree in Russian Studies. After a few months fighting for casual shifts at the BBC’s Russian Service he was given a permanent job there, working mainly on the human interest programme ‘News With a Human Face’ (he assures us the not-so-snappy title sounds better in Russian!). He also helped to launch the Russian Service’s new interactive programme ‘Over To You’, which was launched last year from the Southern Russian town of Samara in the minus thirty degree cold.

He is with the WHYS team until March 2008, when he will go back to the Russian Service. His efforts to get some Russian stories on WHYS are usually in vain, but he assures us he won’t give up. So if you’re surprised to hear us discussing the latest in Russian politics any time soon, you know who to blame!

Iain Croft

Iain on his wedding dayIain joined the team in October 2007 as Mark’s Deputy after being in charge of big interviews for the World Service. Yasser Arafat, Kofi Annan, Hugo Chavez and so on. And his biggest name? “Well, I did talk to Nelson Mandela once on the telephone but all he said was ‘I can’t hear you – you’ll have to speak up.'”

Iain started his career at the BBC 20 years ago as a filing clerk, which he did for three months, before moving his way up the BBC ladder as a researcher, producer and then editor. He’s worked on some of the most high profile programmes at the BBC, including the Today programme on Radio Four, Hardtalk on BBC World Television and the Ten O’Clock News on BBC One domestic television.

Away from the office he no longer has any spare time to go scuba diving with sharks around the world. When he’s not working he’s a dad to two babies, Isabella and Rafael. It’s probably the reason he looks a bit tired some mornings. Formerly a Leeds United stalwart, Iain has an Australian wife who supports Arsenal.

Best WHYS moment: Working on it.

Worst WHYS moment: Haven’t got one yet – but give me time. Hopes not to repeat the famous episode at the Today programme that was mostly Iain’s fault. On a very serious news day we played out Mongolian throat singers rather than an interview with Tony Benn MP. “It’s very funny although the editor at the time has never forgiven me”. Here it is if you want to listen.

If you want to send any of the team a message, just email We look forward to hearing from you.

Dearly Departed

Fiona Crack

The last to move on of the original team of producers who launched WHYS in 2005 (although Peter is back after six months in the BBC’s Washington bureau and Rabiya is returning soon after a stint in the World Service newsroom). Fiona produced shows in India, South Africa, the States and the UK. She’s now working on our sister programme Newshour so she’s only a few metres away. So near and yet so far you might say. She’s definitely gone until the end of 2008, but we’re she might return after that.

Anu Anand

Anu’s was the first voice we all heard on WHYS back on October 31 2005 and for most of our first two years she was a regular host of the show. So it was with heavy hearts that we heard that Anu had decided to leave the BBC and head for Delhi. She was at the heart of the show and it doesn’t seem right that we don’t hear her on air anymore. Come back soon Anu.

Leonardo Rocha

One minute he was here and then our resident Brazilian was gone. He arrived from The World Today and has now been summoned to the BBC World Service Newsroom where they welcomed him with four night shifts. Now he’s gone, who will arrange for ‘urbanists’ from Sao Paolo to join the show? The answer is probably no-one.

Richard Bowen

The man from Birmingham steered the show through some tough terrain including Amsterdam in torrential rain and Issa’s house in Kampala with no electricity or water. He was a listener favourite when reading your messages on air, with emails still arriving asking where he’s gone. You’ll find him producing at BBC World television, but not for ever we hope.

David Mazower

Another member of the launch team, the man they called ‘The Moisturizer’ left us light on male grooming when he moved on to Newshour in September. Famed for an enthusiasm classical music, dense Middle East stories and printing out articles and putting them on a large unread pile, he did manage to clear out his “archive” before moving across the office to a desk nearer the editor’s office.

Anna Stewart

She came for six months, stayed for a year, we’d hoped she could stay longer still but she’s headed back to BBC Radio Five Live from where she’d come. Anna’s now a producer on the Eamonn Holmes show.

Vicki Harrison

Vicki’s moments on WHYS were fleeting. She arrived went on our big Africa trip in May 07 and promptly got a promotion and moved to The World Today. But she didn’t stop there, she then landed a top job in the Amnesty International press office and that’s where you’ll find her now.

Paul Coletti

Never a fully signed up member of the WHYS team, Paul was so regularly booked as a freelancer it just felt that way. He was known briefly as Rocky Blogboa, before we realised we could take the Sly comparisons so far. The World Today then made an honest man of him and offered a contract, so he’s there at the moment working as a producer. His efforts online continue to be very helpful though. Our Facebook group – he set it up.

Kevin Anderson

He was the man from Illinois who showed WHYS the way on blogging. Sadly for us, the Guardian wanted a piece of the Anderson pie and Kevin’s now head of blogs there.

Steve Richards

Steve was another one of the “originals”. He saw the show through its first three months, presenting every Tuesday and Friday. You can still read him in The Independent and, if you’re in the UK, watch him on GMTV every Sunday.

If you want to send any of the team a message, just email We look forward to hearing from you.

Who’s online from WHYS?

March 2023

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