Sunday, 20 November 2011

"Goodbye Johnny!" - Johnny Vaughan leaves Capital FM

The big news from the world of UK radio this week is the announcement of the departure of Johnny Vaughan as host of the Capital FM Breakfast Show.

The official version of events goes as follows:

Johnny did his last breakfast show on Friday 18th November and then Capital issued a statement in the afternoon, announcing his departure from Capital which included the obligatory slightly made-up quotes. Johnny said...

"I have just loved doing this job, but after all these years of getting up in the middle of the night, I really think the time is right to hand over the microphone to someone else. It's been a joy waking up London every morning and a thrill to have been part of the broadcasting tapestry of this great city."

And Richard Park, Global’s Director of Broadcasting said...

“Johnny has done a fantastic job over the years, particularly recently, building the programme with Lisa Snowdon, into London’s most popular commercial radio breakfast show. Johnny is a skilled broadcaster on radio and television, and we thank him for his time with 95.8 Capital FM, while wishing him every success for the future.”

To any observer with a mild interest in the radio industry, this all seems a bit odd. Sure, Johnny may have decided that he’s done it for long enough and wanted to go out on a high, but really like this? As I understand it there’s a little more to this than meets the eye.

The “he’s already done his last show” routine is always an odd thing, suggesting that the parting between the 2 parties is less than amicable. Plus the “we wish him every success in for the future” line is something you trot out to someone you’re quite glad to see the back of, not someone who has presided over one of the biggest radio shows in London for many years.

There are a several stories that I’ve heard in the last few days relating to this, which upon legal advice (no... seriously!) I’m not at liberty to write here!! These may explain the rather sudden departure of Johnny, and may come out in due course. We shall see!

I worked with Johnny during the early years of his tenure at Capital, and I found him to be very passionate about his job, always wanting to improve, quick to learn, and somewhat impatient of others whom he perceived held him back. He was part of the new wave of “people from the TV who were doing radio” and as a result I think he always felt a bit of an outsider, and more at home in the world of TV.

It irked him that his show never really got the recognition he felt it deserved and I'm not sure the radio industry ever really took Johnny to their hearts. I remember one year after the Sony’s when he picked up a Bronze, he duly went on the air the next morning announcing with deep disdain, the start of another “bronze award winning programme”.

There’s no doubt that after a tough start, plus the burden of taking over from Tarrant, Johnny got better over time. He grew to understand the importance of compacting the material into ‘short form’, and he really showed his skill especially when he was allowed a bit more freedom to ad-lib around topics and ‘go off on one’ occasionally. His style still retained a slight edge of aggression and danger, which was appealing to some, but also quite divisive. Getting him to sound warm was always a challenge. But he showed off his knowledge about almost everything on a daily basis. He really is one of the most intelligent and well-read people I've ever met, and it's a shame that he never really found an outlet for that on the show.

The string of co-hosts he had never really worked that well until Lisa Snowdon arrived. She was able to ‘deal’ with him and it will be interesting to see if she sticks around or not. Which leads us to the big question. What next?

This is a tricky one, as it’s a tough gig that needs someone with a certain ‘media equity’ but also with the staying power to have a good run at it. Will Capital opt for ‘someone off the TV’ again, or will they take a ‘radio presenter’ and go for the slightly less profile option? Greg Burns will be filling in for the time being, and the he’s a real pro and won’t rock the boat too much. The show is in good hands in the inter-regnum.

I wouldn’t put it past our friends at Global to “serve up a curve ball” as our American cousins would say. They have the clout and nous to pull something rather special out of the bag. I have a few thoughts, but will save those for another day!

In the meantime, let’s enjoy probably the best radio ad this country has seen for many years, overseen by the then Marketing Director, Carl Lyons.

Goodbye Johnny...

PS – If you want to read about the creative process behind the making of that ad, click here to read Carl Lyon’s excellent blog


Anonymous said...

Strewth, only a few days and his announcement replaced already??

I highly doubt it.

Anonymous said...

Bit of a tease Nik, I wish you'd actually revealed some of your thoughts or what you think will happen next. Quite frustrating. I reckon Dave Berry will be the next host and I'm 95% sure about this. I reckon they planned this ages ago when they originally got Berry in for Weekend Breakfast at the beginning of the year - they surely had the view then to eventually making him JV's successor. I'll come back to you when this is confirmed to the media and you can thank me later!

Anonymous said...

OK Nik, so 10 days later I'm back as promised because it's now confirmed that Berry will be taking over the Capital Breakfast Show! Didn't I tell you?!! Do I get a prize? Seriously though, it really was planned all along - as far back as December 2010. Now since I've been so open, can you do the decent thing and reveal more about your actual thoughts which you only teased in your post? Fascinated to know other people's thoughts.

Nik Goodman said...

Thanks for your insight on this and you were 100% right! 5% more than the 95% certainty you gave yourself on 21st November!!

Your prize... I'll think of one when you reveal your identity!! :-)