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Jakke Holvas

Jakke Mikael Holvas
Born September 16, 1968, Turku

Master of Arts 1996, PhD 2009 (theoretical philosophy), University of Helsinki

FBC morning TV presenter 2011–13
Host of the FBC Radio Finland current affairs programme Ajantasa and FBC Radio 1 morning programme Ykkösaamu 2008–
Journalist for the TV programme T-Klubi 2006-07, Tarinatalo
Columnist 2004-06, Helsingin Sanomat
Journalist, features and Sunday-edition, 2004-06, Helsingin Sanomat

Member of Lektio, a cooperative specialised in organising lectures and producing articles and columns, 2005–

Photo: Jakke Holvas
Written by Jakke Holvas and Tero Juutilainen (ed.)

Translated by Matthew Billington

No Power, but Discussions with the Powerful

When I was a small boy, I said I would be president when I grew up. I didn’t become president, but I have interviewed President Sauli Niinistö on the FBC radio programme Ajantasa, where the author Mikko Rimminen was also a guest.

I am the host of the FBC Radio 1 morning programme Ykkösaamu (My job is to plan and present questions to the Finnish political and business elite in a live broadcast. The guests on Ykkösaamu are mainly CEOs, ministers and MPs, but sometimes also experts in foreign policy and economics.

Jakke Holvas at his workplace, the FBC.

In autumn 2008, Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen was planning his urban development model, termed “himmeli”. I called his assistant from the FBC, and in less than two hours I was interviewing him for the FBC Radio show Ajantasa. This is how Finland is. I remember a time when I was a postgraduate on the number 7 tram that goes through Kruununhaka to my office. Suddenly, an utterly rain-drenched Mauno Koivisto, wearing a tracksuit, got on the tram. My fellow passengers exchanged confused glances, wondering if it could really be him.

I was not even wearing a blazer during the interview with Prime Minister Vanhanen, just a red jumper. The jumper had been knitted by a woman who had sat on F.E. Sillanpää’s lap as a child, although I didn’t say anything about that to Vanhanen. Instead, in his room in the Cabinet offices of Snellmaninkatu 1 he showed me his “himmeli” model, which he had drawn on piece of graph paper.

About a year later, in 2009, I was on the other side of Senate Square, in another building designed by Engel. I was defending my doctoral dissertation in the main building of the University of Helsinki. While I do not have much recollection of the lecture room itself, I particularly remember that my opponent, my supervisor and I were in a very high room at the corner of Aleksanterinkatu and Unioninkatu, and I found myself gazing out of the window at the Cabinet offices where I had spoken to the prime minister. Hannu Riikonen, Professor of Comparative Literature, was also present, and, as he was well acquainted with the history of the university, he told us who the people in all the big portraits were. It made me feel I was a part of history at that moment, a part of some kind of continuum with my own tiny contribution.

These events and the connections between them perhaps illustrate how small and safe our country is. I am originally from a suburb in Vantaa, I was far from being an A-grade student, and yet I have personally met the country’s political and intellectual elite.

In radio discussions I try to give an equal amount of time to as many parties or people as possible. I don’t believe my own education as a PhD has anything to do with what I do. A reporter has to discover a lot of background information on such things as current socio-economic policy before an interview, rather than sharpen his or her own views during it. I might have been an even better interviewer if I had worked for that time I spent on my doctoral thesis.

Most of my free time goes on playing with my children, aged 9 and 7, and housework. My hobbies are biking from work in Pasila to the south-western suburbs in Vantaa and trolling for zander (Sander lucioperca) in the waters of Helsinki.


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