Monday, 7 September 2009

Good Morning Britain!

So... the UK’s most popular breakfast show is to get a new host. The widely predicted replacement of Terry Wogan from BBC Radio 2, with a certain Mr C Evans (of the same parish) isn’t exactly shocking in itself, however there are a couple of thoughts worth pondering today;

Moving younger... again!
There’s no doubt that Chris’ show will appeal to a younger demo than Terry’s. Just as there is more pressure on the “chilling” BBC to justify chasing younger audiences and generally being successful to excess (and to the detriment of commercial rivals) , they seem to stick two fingers up at the critics and announce a move that undeniably illustrates the point. Let’s not forget that in the last decade, Radio 2’s reach among 15-34 year olds has risen by 62%!

Certainly the show will turn off a section of the audience (mainly older Daily Mail readers!) who will still have the perception of Chris as a drunken buffoon who hangs out with Gazza all day and night. The truth lies a long way away from this, but Chris’s ‘youthful exuberance’ is an image he will retain for many years to come.

I believe the show will attract listeners from commercial radio... and probably more than it drives away from its existing base. Potential losers could be Absolute Radio, who despite having a very solid and listenable show with Christian O' Connell, may find that the offer of a big personality with a strong breakfast show track record, combined with a broader mix of music genres is a very tempting proposition for listeners. The somewhat ‘disenfranchised’ older listeners to the heritage ILR stations, (like Key 103 and Radio City) and newer regional offerings (like Real Radio) may also find that Radio 2 starts to pull at those all important 40+ demos.

After what will inevitably be a backlash from ‘middle-England’ / “disgusted from Tunbridge Wells” and a general outrage at the appointment of Chris to the role, this will die down (as it did shortly after Chris took over Drivetime) and people will get on with judging the show by what comes out of the speaker in the new year.

The differences in style between the current Breakfast Show and the Drivetime show on Radio 2 are vast. So the big question is... Will Chris adapt his style to the new time-slot to smooth the transition, or will he re-define the style of the ‘sound of breakfast’ on Radio 2? My view is he will do the latter, and shake up the show. Out go the ‘TOG’s’, and in will come a more bouncy, jaunty style of presentation complete with trademark ‘feelgood’ music beds and ensemble of characters. It’s a great formula that Chris has used repeatedly well throughout his radio career, and I don’t expect him to change now. Although Chris won’t go out of his way to alienate the loyal listeners to Wogan, I’m certain he won’t shy away from making the show his own within a pretty short space of time.

It won’t take long before questions are no doubt asked in the House of Commons as to “how much of licence fee payers money is being used to pay for the services of Mr Evans?” Will he be paid more than commercial radio could currently muster for a big breakfast show? Do BBC salaries distort the market? Well – I’m certain that if Mr Park and Co at Global really wanted a networked breakfast show and they felt Chris was the man for it, they would be able to find the money somewhere! (Mind you – can’t imagine Chris appearing on Heart somehow!) The cost of talent is a whole subject in itself, so I’ll save that one for another posting... OK?

I smiled a wry smile at the timing of the announcement this morning. It is no accident that Wogan chose to announce this on the very day that Chris Moyles becomes the longest serving Radio 1 Breakfast DJ in its history. Behind the smiles, the rivalry runs deep and there is a certain calculated timing in all this I feel! I’d love to have heard the phone calls between the Radio 1 and Radio 2 press offices today!

I’ve always been an admirer of Chris and his sheer devotion to radio as a medium. He consistently delivered some great radio shows on whatever station he’s been on.... OK... there were a few dodgy months at Virgin where the show (and Chris) “lost it” for a bit, but hey... haven’t we all had the occasional wobble?! He’s both a dream and a nightmare to work with, and certainly proves the point that ‘the best talent is the hardest to work with’. But he reminds me why I love working in radio.

In a period where traditional radio is coming under pressure from all sorts of digital offerings, (and providing you can set aside the politics of it all), it’s great news to have a real star like Chris heading up a flagship programme like the Radio 2 Breakfast Show.

I for one, will be tuned in.


Clive Dickens said...

Now Nick you wouldn't expect me to let you get away with that one, what with my 'very solid & listenerable breakfast show'..:)

Only time will tell what way the market will go, but I predict some loss of 35+ hours from Chris Moyles to R2 and a big loss of 65+ hours to the R2 before 9am. And a loss from Drivetime because his replacement won't be as good....

Good News all round for Commercial Radio, a smaller Radio 1 and a much smaller Radio 2.

And remember you have to have Chris in your name to be succesful at Breakfast, moyles, evans, tarrant AND O'Connell :)

Don't you just love this crystal balls!

Nik Goodman said...

And I thought any station would like a ‘very solid and listenable breakfast show’! :-) Well... it was meant as a compliment, even if it didn’t sound like one!

I agree about the loss of hours analysis... especially the older end of Moyles audience, who may want a little more substance to it and find a show that reminds them of “when they used to listen to Radio 1 in 1996”.

If Mayo goes to R2 drive... it’ll be a very different sort of a show, that's for sure.

Notes to self – Rename all morning show hosts ‘Chris’ to asure success... and be more generous with compliments in future!