Boughton's childhood was spent in Canada before moving to Birmingham, England as a teenager. She graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in English and Drama, staying on as a sabbatical officer organising all the live events and skiing competitively for the university. She came 7th in the giant slalom in the British university championships.
Her first experience with radio was at the age of 7 as part of a drama on BBC Radio Oxford with Timmy Mallett. She worked at Radio Caroline (at Bristol dock) before writing articles for media magazines, which includedKerrang!. She also presented a daily children's show along with Timmy Mallet at Radio Oxford, where she was called Susan Zinc!
Emma joined BBC Radio 1 in April 1998, firstly presenting an Early Saturday morning show from 4am–7am. In 1999, she took over the Saturday afternoon show from 1pm–3pm alongside Sara Cox and the Sunday night/Monday morning overnight slot from 1am–4am. In addition to that, in January 2000, she co-presented the Sunday Surgery show, alongside Dr. Mark Hamilton every Sunday evening from 9pm–11pm. Sunday Surgery has dealt with social and health problems including sex, drugs, poverty and crime. She won 4 Sonys for the show and has been singled out as having saved lives through that show.
In September 2001, Emma took over Saturday Breakfast from 7am–10am as well as the Sunday Surgery show. She continued with Saturday Breakfast until late 2003.
Emma eventually quit Radio 1 in early 2005 and in August 2005 joined London's Heart 106.2, presenting a Sunday evening show from 7pm-10pm. She then took over the weekday drivetime show alongside fellow DJGreg Burns, and then moved to the 4pm-7pm slot alone. Emma's show was the first female solo show to ever take the number one spot on the drivetime slot in the London area. During her time at Heart she has also occasionally presented shows for its sister station LBC as well as the BBC's Five Live service. She left Heart at the end of July 2009 to move with her family to Ibiza.
Emma also hosted a syndicated show All Time 100.....Greatest Songs which airs on a number of stations during the New Year holiday.