2019 was a difficult year for Bolton-born broadcaster Mark Radcliffe. Turning 60, he had just mourned the death of his father, only to be handed a diagnosis of mouth and throat cancer.

But rather than feel sorry for himself, Mark began to write, with his new book Crossroads seeing him consider 25 songs he feels have marked a pivotal moment in music history such as Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, Blitzkrieg Bop by the Ramones and Kraftwerk's Autobahn.

"It felt very much a crossroads year," said Mark. "I went on this trip to celebrate my 60th with two old mates to Memphis and Nashville and we found ourselves at the Mississippi crossroads where the bluesman Robert Johnson was supposed to have met the devil and in return for surrendering his soul he would get some great tunes so the crossroads became a motif that stayed in my mind."

The BBC radio host, who was educated at Bolton School, admits writing was not at first, with his illness forcing him to take a break from presenting shows on Radio 2 and 6 Music.

"I was struggling and there were times when I was recovering from the treatment when I was very weak and thin," he said. "I couldn't concentrate enough to read let alone write, but when I read it back I was really relieved that it wasn't at all depressing. I think in retrospect doing the writing was a kind of catharsis because I couldn't go out or do my shows, but I had this thing I could finish that suggested a brighter future."

Mark received thousands of goodwill messages when he announced the news of his illness to listeners during the Folk Show and he remains thankful for the support he has received.

"I was overwhelmed," he said. "I didn't really want to draw attention to myself but when it became clear I was going to be off for a few months I thought it was only fair to the people who have listened to me for a very long time to be honest with them. When I thought about it I realised I'd been on the radio for the whole people's lives, following them through schools and exams and on to university or work. I've always sort of been there and people feel they know you a little bit."

In Crossroads, Mark even recalls his days working at the Bolton Evening News as a copy taker, a job he thinks he might have got due to his father being a journalist on the paper.

"Dad was a Farnworth Grammar School and he was very fond of Bolton," added Mark, who now lives in Knutsford. "He was 85 so he had a good innings and he was playing cards at his bridge club a week before he died so he had quite a good ending.

"I brought a drum kit once from a bloke in Leigh who'd advertised in the small ads of the Bolton Evening News so I will always feel an emotional tie to Bolton. It's very close to my heart."

Crossroads by Mark Radcliffe is published by Canongate and is available in all good bookshops.