Wednesday, 26 September 2012

The New Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw - First Impressions...

Radio Today asked me to write an opinion piece for them about the new Radio 1 Breakfast Show with Nick Grimshaw. Here's what I wrote...

“You only get one opportunity to make a first impression... so make it count!” someone once said to me. It’s true, which is probably why getting your first breakfast show ‘half-decent’, is pretty important. At the same time, everyone in the industry knows that a first show may be pretty unrepresentative of what is to follow over the next few months and years.

So how did Grimmy do then?

I tried to listen to the first show more like a regular listener might, dipping in and out. I must have tuned in at precisely the wrong moment though, as the very first thing I heard on this “Now with Added Music” breakfast show was a link that quite possibly ‘Moyles-eque’ in its duration. It was 12m 22s long folks.

Now I wasn’t expecting all 30 second links and 5 in a row, but was this the right approach for day 1?

And as I carried on my listening I got the sense that the zoo / team format was still very much there, but just toned down a bit. Grimmy was understandably using them as a crutch, and threw to them quite a lot. They, on the other hand, were obviously under some sort of instruction not to engage too much with him on-air. So the result was something that, let’s say ‘lacked a little flow’. The chemistry is not there yet for obvious reasons.

Content wise, it already felt younger with his obligatory One Direction mate making an appearance and a Justin Bieber pre-record. This in itself may be enough to drive the older end away, which is of course part of the desired effect.

There’s no doubt that Grimmy is a cool, well-connected guy but I worry that too much ‘showbiz’ might become a bit grating after a while. Mentioning his “manager” on-air and name dropping the people who had got in touch to wish him well is so far removed from the ‘down to earth, bloke in the pub’ shtick that Moyles did, it’s going to take some getting used to. I know he’s a good Northern lad, and getting the balance of ‘enough celebrity’ and ‘too much celebrity’ is tough, but it’s certainly something for him to watch for.

One other thing; he needs to actually tell some stories and have some content. At the moment, it’s all very waffley and lacks any substance or direction. He takes 2 minutes to say what could be said in 15 seconds. That’s something that needs to be addressed pretty quickly I feel.

Now of course, all the above is grossly unfair. Judging a breakfast show based on a couple of outings is more than a little unreasonable, but it certainly is how listeners do it. They don’t always allow the time a show needs to get into its rhythm. But let’s revisit it in 6 weeks and see how he’s doing shall we?

I think Grimmy’s a safe pair of hands for the show. He won’t be overly successful, and he won’t be so bad that he’s forced off either. He’ll probably do it for 3 years... max. But will he provide the injection of energy and creativity that broadcasters like Moyles and Evans brought to the show? I rather doubt it. But he is mates with One Direction, in case you didn’t know.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Goodbye to The Saviour...

I listened to the last Chris Moyles Show on Friday. It was, as you would expect, a suitable send off for a broadcaster whose impact on Radio 1 is undeniable.

He arrived as ‘The Saviour of Radio 1’ and it’s fair to say that he was true to his word.

He took the team / zoo format that Evans had used a decade earlier, gave it his own style, and ran with it, growing the ratings and audience loyalty along the way.

I remember doing a session with Andy Parfitt at a conference just after he left Radio 1, and I asked him how good a broadcaster he thought Moyles was upon reflection. He said plainly “He’s the best.” And you can see why he would say that.

He was able to create great radio moments out of seemingly nothing; bring mega-stars right down to earth with engaging interviews; understand that doing a breakfast show is all about ‘the show’; posses the right balance of ego and fragility, but with the talent to back it up; and draw listeners in day after day with a classic approach to the ‘soap opera’ of team radio.

The best talent always has its haters, and for some Moyles was just not their thing. But the fans loved it. Really loved it. You could hear their devotion when they spoke to him on-air, or you could read it on the messages on Facebook.

Everyone had an opinion when you mentioned his name in the pub. And you can ask for no more than that. People knew him and had an opinion of him.

Yes – the critics in the industry would always point to his age (38) and how he connected more with listeners in their 30’s and 40’s than in the core Radio 1 demo. And there’s no doubt that at times it was an obvious problem for the network, particularly when he’d rather play T’Pau than Skrillex.

But to do what he did for 8 years and 8 months takes enormous talent and commitment. And for that we should applaud him.

I hope he gets back on the radio soon. I know several stations that want him. UK radio is a better place with Chris Moyles on it.

And if you missed his 'Goodbye Song', here is it is, in a typical understated Moyles fashion...