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.