Julian Clegg meets me in the lobby of the BBC’s Southampton headquarters with a decent man-hug.

Although we have only met in the flesh some dozen times during our two decades as media colleagues-in-arms, it feels appropriate.

We have, after all, spent almost every weekday morning of those 20 years together: Julian in his BBC Radio Solent studio, me in the car on the A31 and M27 tuning in.

Like his many thousands of listeners – including those referred to as Julian’s People – I have listened in as the veteran broadcaster (he may not forgive me that term) has used his own unique style of interviewing to coax, tease, encourage, sympathise, empathise, and occasionally prod his way around the issues of the day.

And as he prepares to mark his double decade in the breakfast slot at Radio Solent with a broadcast next Friday before a live audience at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre, I thought it was fitting to put the man on the spot myself with a few probing questions of my own.

Despite looking remarkably fresh after just finishing his show the day we met, why did I suspect his was a daily routine few of us would cherish?

“We get up at 4am each morning and Carolyn (Julian’s wife) is amazing. She makes me a cup of tea and we sit on the bed and I eat a bowl of cereal and we have a chat.

“It’s a bit cheesy, but I think if you are going to do something like this year after year, having someone who is a rock in your life makes a difference and Carolyn has been brilliant.

“In my previous job when the breakfast show started at five in the morning and I was living in Guilford and working in Brighton and I was having to commute on a daily basis, I was getting up at half past one and that was tricky. She was still amazing.”

And once at the studio how does the day progress?

“Normally I get into the BBC shortly before 6am and I have a chat with producer. It is an on-going 24-hour cycle. We have already talked about tomorrow’s show so Continued over page I go home knowing about parts of tomorrow, but of course things will change and then we have another chat in the morning and talk about what’s coming up, guests, etc.

“Then between six and 6.30 after the news, Emily the newsreader will join us and the technical producer Chris will be there and Luke the producer and we will talk about what are we going to do that morning. That is a key part of it.

“It’s a new show so it is going to be reacting to what has been happening that morning. I think if you plan it too much then it is not going to get the zeitgeist of what people are talking about when they get up. It has to be a bit of both – some planned before, some reacting to the day’s events.

“We have always got things happening in the show that we have planned. We know who will be the studio guests because we ask them the day before so we know they are coming in. And of course, we know the Julian’s Person who is coming in.”

Julian’s People have become an integral part of the show. Was that your idea and how did it catch on?

“The great thing is because when I came here I was really keen to do a feature about people who would normally perhaps go on the radio and give just a few details and I wanted to do something where we followed people’s journey, their story, and we called it Julian’s People.

“That has been the success, because it has given the opportunity for people to tell their story over a series of months or sometime years. Also it generates other people to come forward and tell us their stories.

“In local newspapers – as you will know – it is normal to encourage people to come forward with their stories. Not so radio, but that’s what I wanted to do. We also call them ‘Newsmakers.’ “When we worked together on Silent Calls in 2005 (the joint campaign between Radio Solent and the Daily Echo to end the curse of automated cold calling that saw the law changed) that was generated from a Newsmaker who called me.”

And do you keep in touch with Julian’s People over the years?

“Yes we keep in touch. Some will be coming on air throughout this week I’m told, but they (the BBC) are keeping the details of who as a surprise for both me and the listeners..

“We have had over the years Christmas parties where we invite the current Julian’s People back. And quite often when they have completed their Julian’s People story then they become regular contacts for their specialist subjects.”

“When you are live on air you are very much in the hands of your team. If you are going to do a show where you have lots of people ringing in, texting, using social media, you are only as good as the people you work with and my team are great. I have been very lucky with my producers over the years.”

And when the show is over?

“At the end of the show we have a meeting about the next day, record a trailer for the next day’s show, and there’s often something else to do. For instance, we have new equipment and new studios being introduced here in the next few weeks and there’s training for that.

“The main thing to do is not to try and burn the candle at both ends and make sure you get back for an afternoon’s kip. I have to have some time in the afternoon otherwise I can’t function. Then up for dinner and then back to be at 8.30pm.

“I can’t say it’s easy, but you need to have a partner who understands all that or otherwise it is really, really tough. It is a slightly weird world though where Eastenders is late night TV.”

Daily Echo:

Do you go wild at weekends?

“To be honest at weekends, even on holiday, I will still wake up early and still want a rest in the afternoon.

“We have one dog Teddy (a Polish Lowland Sheepdog) – sadly lost we one, Toby, a couple of months ago and the listeners were amazing when I mentioned it on air – and even if we are on holiday he will get up at 4am. If we go to Europe on holiday this is good because 4.30am is 5.30am so actually he doesn’t know that so he doesn’t wake up until half past five: bliss.

“Weekends are usually spent walking at Milford or Highcliff and you meet listeners and they talk about their dogs. Beach walks are lovely and that’s what we do; a nice opportunity to bump into listeners.

“Other than that, the weekend is doing domestics.“ Did you always want to work in radio.?

“When I started work it was as an accountant but I wanted to also do broadcasting. There were no media courses in those days but I entered a BBC talent competition. You had to record on a cassette for five minutes where you had to ‘fill’ as if no one could get to the studio and all you had was a weather forecast and a page of your local newspaper.

“I think about 3,000 people applied and eventually they took on two of us. I started my career in Brighton. 33 years ago in November. I thought I would be behind the scenes making the TV and then their morning presenter moved on and I was his researcher and they basically said one morning the guy’s not coming in today and you are sitting in. I was there for ten years

“That was showbiz show and I met lots of lovely actors and authors and singers every morning. Then I went back to the floor and did the journalism conversation course and was news editor in Guilford and then I came here with my first day on air on February 3 taking over from David Dunning.”

With so many people listening to you – including the great and the good of Hampshire - do you feel that sense of power and responsibility?

“I tend to think I am just talking to one person in the morning. I am picturing somebody, just one person, listening to the show, thinking ‘I have got to get up’.

“I like the fact that we can debate issues, but I don’t consider how many people are listening.

“There are events which stand out since I have been here. Coverage of D-Day commemorations in 2004 and 2014 and I also did 1994 from the beaches That always moves me incredibly. The Vets, sadly fewer these days, have been amazing. I come back from those shows and it takes me some time to get over it. I was in tears at Pegasus Bridge talking to this Vet who had fought there.

“The review of the fleet in the Solent for The Queen’s Jubilee was amazing. The Queen had our commentary on HMS Endurance on the speaker because it was basically the only way for her to know which ship she was looking at. The one time she was listening.

“Then there has been newsmaker stories which have stuck in my mind, so many: the lady whose husband died on the 3rd of the month and they billed her for the whole month’s nursey home fees and rang in and she got the money back.

"Or the lady swindled out of all her money, £64,000 and after being on the air the bank gave her her money back. The lady who ordered a bike for her son for Christmas and it didn’t turn up and we got involved and it arrived just in time.

"All those sorts of things that is part of local journalism and we have a duty to do it. It’s those kind of things that stay in the mind because they hopefully have made a difference. “

Funny moments?

“Luckily I’ve always had a great team working with me so there’s little chance for error. There was this one guest who came into the studio and I started to ask him about churches and he told me he had come in to talk about bees.”

And are you prepared for your big event at the Mayflower Theatre this Friday? I understand that 800 tickets have been snapped up for free by your listeners.

“We have never done anything like this before. We will be reading the news on stage, the travel on stage, the sport on stage and then, obviously, I am going to present.

“I sort of know what’s going to happen but I also know there will be a few surprises. I’m hoping to be able to get into the audience and ask them a few questions live on air. It should be great fun.

“Personally though, I will be amazed if anyone turns up. It is 7am in the morning!”

And no plans for any big announcements about the future?

“Well, they have labelled it ’20-Years and Counting,’ which I think more or less says it all.”

• Breakfast with Julian Clegg, live from the Mayflower Theatre takes place from 6.30am on Friday, February 3 and can be heard on BBC Radio Solent.