WERE the debate over the future of the Lesley Riddoch show a topic of the call-in show's discussions, Riddoch's definitive statement on the wrangling might well be "come off it". The broadcaster has reacted philosophically to the news this week that the recently appointed head of radio at BBC Scotland, Jeff Zycinski, has yet to guarantee a slot for her show, which was due to broadcast from June after its planned outsourcing to her Dundee-based company Feisty FM.

Zycinski has since told BBC staff that the show will not return in the "immediate future" and a new lunchtime format is under development. Riddoch has said his comments are "news to me" and, indeed, is about to go away for a few days to celebrate her birthday on Monday.

While media diaries have been charting the progress of the threemonth saga, which is thought to be a result of a lack of communication since the change in management at the BBC, Riddoch has been bewildered by the attention that both the setting up of her production company and the subsequent negotiations with the BBC have received. To her, shifting operations to Dundee was a commonsense arrangement as she has been commuting to the central belt for more than 10 years.

It was interpreted differently by her colleagues, as represented by the National Union of Journalists, who have pointed out the uncertainty and anxiety the change has brought, while other commentators have noted the financial benefit of privatising the show.

This difference of opinion seems to be rooted in fundamentally different psychologies and, as such, appears irresolvable. Riddoch isn't wired to see change as something to be anxious about and acknowledges that her thirst for a challenge is greater than the average person's.

Nor is she a "show and go" presenter, which explains her readiness to take on the conventions of BBC broadcasting once she realised they weren't working for her.

This single-mindedness is familiar to those who have worked with her (though some may express this as stubbornness) and, indeed, can be traced throughout her life and career.

Riddoch was born to Helen, a housewife from Wick, and William, an insurance manager from Banffshire. The family moved to Belfast in 1960 and stayed until 1973, whereupon they moved to Glasgow and Riddoch attended the private new High School. She was a solitary child, principally because she didn't know anyone who enjoyed the same activities:

long walks and being awkward. At school, she stood outside assembly because she wasn't Christian, and she refused to take part in sport in protest against the house system. She was, she says, "a bit of a rebel looking for a cause".

Oxford University is not the natural environment for rebels and, indeed, Riddoch was miserable for the first year of her degree in politics, philosophy and economics, finding the institution "claustrophobic". It improved, but not because she conformed. Rather, she set up a feminist magazine titled Lilith and later became the first woman and non-Conservative to be elected president of the Oxford student's union.

While she was at university, she had a poor view of student journalists, but revised this opinion upon finding herself "jobless with a philosophy degree" and took a postgraduate diploma in journalism studies at the University of Cardiff.

One of the first impressions Riddoch made on Scottish journalism was with her feminist newspaper Harpies and Quines, which was taken to court by Harpers & Queen (they lost) and folded in 1993 after three eventful years.

However, her widest-reaching feminist statement was made while at the Scotsman, where she variously occupied the positions of assistant editor, acting deputy editor and associate editor and columnist. On March 8, 1995, she led the production of the Scotswoman, a one-off edition edited in its entirety by the paper's female staff. It soldout and was reported on by international media.

Riddoch later became a contributing editor for the Sunday Herald during its setting up and a columnist for the ill-fated Business AM. While in broadcasting she has presented People's Parliament and Powerhouse for Channel 4, Midnight Hour for BBC 2, You & Yours for Radio 4 and, of course, she has worked for Radio Scotland. Her daily call-in show for the latter has won many awards, including the Silver Sony Speech Broadcaster of the Year Award in 2001 and 2002, and is known for Riddoch's frank, spontaneous and conversational debate.

IT WAS DURING HER WORK ON THE show that Riddoch established - or perhaps developed - her reputation for being difficult to work with.

Former colleagues have complained that she never considers the opinions of those she works with and that planning the shows was difficult because Riddoch eschews research for a more spontaneous approach. Certainly, the announcement of the intended privatisation of the show did not help team-building, but Riddoch's push for independence was made in the confidence that the show's popularity would see it through. Up to now, this seemed to be the case, as Zycinski recently told the Sunday Herald: "I would love to have her back . . . The audience want her back as well."

Riddoch has perhaps weathered the storm of controversy well because she is involved in a multiplicity of other projects. Her charity, Africawoman, has recently been commissioned to produce newspapers for the Africa Commission and British Council and she is planning a high-profile event for the G8 summit.

There have been other labours of love. She is a trustee of the Isle of Eigg Trust and Tom Shields wrote of her involvement in 1999: "It is entirely appropriate that Lesley Riddoch . . . should be actively involved in Eigg. The other name for Eigg is the Island of the Big Woman. These were the Big Women who spurned St Donnan's Christian ways in favour of pagan practices. Conflict was inevitable; as a result St Donnan was beheaded and de-balled by the big women. Those who know Ms Riddoch will confirm that nothing much has changed."

Then there was her marriage, in May 2002, to IT consultant Chris Smith, which has also been an influence on her priorities. Riddoch, who has no children of her own, has since been adjusting to life as stepmother to his two teenage daughters, which includes learning about pop music and teen fashions.

The couple live in a converted farmhouse in Perthshire, a short commute to Dundee and Feisty Ltd's pounds-120,000 digital radio station.

The company, which Riddoch founded with former BBC producer Turan Ali, is intended to be "freethinking". That is, they will employ multi-skilled researchers, journalists and producers who will work flexibly to produce a range of output for a range of companies. While this is a new venture for a Scottish media company, flexible working is nothing new for Riddoch, who spent a portion of 1997working simultaneously for the Scotsman, Radio 4, BBC2 and Africawoman between desks in London, Edinburgh and home. Feisty is as feisty does.