All About Roberto...
Rob was born in Sicily in 1963 and was ‘imported’ to the UK in 1965. “My first recollections of that journey – says Rob – were arriving at a grey and sullen Victoria station after the warm glowing Sicilian sunshine. We transferred across London to St. Pancras in a black London cab and caught the train to Luton where we were met by my dad’s mate Alessandro, who picked us up in his blue Commer van with sliding front doors. He took us to our first English home – a one room let in a house that had seen better days”
The Perrone family, mum Pina, dad Rosario and Roberto all lived in a rented single room in BURY PARK. Rob’s dad Rosario had worked in the UK for several months previously as a barber at Ron’s barber shop in Mill Street. Ron’s was run by Mr Harris who had arranged for the family to come to Britain. Mr. Harris however quickly became aware that the young family were living in very poor conditions and he set about to purchase a house for them to move into.
In 1966, World Cup year, Ron Harris [The Luton businessman not the footballer] purchased a traditional terraced house in Saxon Road in Luton which he then let to Rosario and his family.
“I remember that house and Mr. Harris with great affection – says Roberto – he was very fond of my father and helped him enormously. He was a real gentleman – old school”
In 1968, Rob’s brother Fabio was born and the family moved to Leagrave to their own home. A traditional bed semi which set Rosario back £3,500 – a small fortune in the late 60’s!
When the family lived in Saxon Road in Luton, Rob attended Denbigh Infant school and attended Denbigh High school while waiting for a secondary school place. Eventually he got a space at the Cardinal Newman RC School in Luton.
In between all that – he attended St. Joseph’s junior school and it was while at St. Joseph’s that Rob became an ALTAR BOY.
“Being an altar boy was great but the 11 O’clock Sunday Mass was a right pain – one Irish priest could do the whole Mass in 35 minutes but most dragged it out to 60!”
From school, Rob went on to Sixth form and then Barnfield and Dunstable Colleges where he graduated with a HND and became a member of the Society of Industrial Artists and Designers [SIAD]
He worked in advertising for several years before starting his own business in 1990.
It was while he was in business that the chance to become a full time radio presenter was offered to Rob. “I had a call from a good friend of mine, Mark Norman, who had just been appointed Managing Editor of BBC 3 Counties Radio – says Rob – I had to turn him down and he subsequently offered the job to some bloke called Timmy Mallett. After 6 months – he called me again and offered me the job – this time I accepted”
Rob presented Drive time on BBC 3 Counties Radio from late 1999 until 2004.
In December 2004, Mark Norman asked Rob to present the Breakfast show on 3 Counties …… the rest is radio history culminating in a prestigious Sony GOLD Award for the best interactive Breakfast show in 2005.
Rob’s work on the breakfast show also ensured that for the first time in it’s distinguished history, BBC 3 Counties Radio was awarded a Sony GOLD Award for best radio station in the same year.
In October of 2005, Rob was awarded two BBC Gillard Awards – a bronze for best breakfast show and a silver for best interactive Award.
In January 2006, Rob was awarded the prestigious title of CAVALIERE by the Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and the then Prime Minister, Cavaliere Silvio Berlusconi, in recognition of Rob’s outstanding work for the Italian community through his Italian show BBC MONDO ITALIANO.
MONDO ITALIANO is the BBC’s only Italian show and has been on-air since 1985. Roberto has been producing and presenting the show since 1990.
Although he doesn’t use it, Rob’s award by the Italian republic is the equivalent of a British OBE, his full title is now Cavaliere Roberto Perrone!
Rob is married to Anna since 1999 and they have 2 children, Chiara & Christian who are both at Junior school.
Anna is London born but is Italian – her family come from the beautiful Sorrento coast. “We talk English at home – says Rob – but when we argue, it’s the full-bloodied southern Italian thing!"