This week has been quite a massive one for radio – Paul Ross and Gaby Roslin started their new show on BBC London; Richard Bacon started his new show on 5 Live; and Simon Mayo started his new show on Radio 2.
But the one that everyone has been talking about is Chris Evans, and his new Radio 2 show. Chris’ inheriting of Wogan‘s old slot is arguabley the most controversial decision made by Radio 2 bosses in recent years… when it was first announced that Evans would be taking over Breakfast, I wasn’t sure whether it was the right decision.
However after several more months on Drivetime, and 1 week at Breakfast, I don’t think it was such a bad decision. Let me explain…
Evans plays a wide range of music. So far this week there has been music from Neil Diamond, The Beatles, James Brown, Frank Sinatra, the Move and the Seekers mixed in with tracks from Paloma Faith, Coldplay, Michael Bublé, Cheryl Cole, Take That and Robbie Williams
The remit of Radio 2 is to be a distinctive mixed music and speech service, targeted at a broad audience, appealing to all age groups over 35.
Quoted from BBC Radio 2’s Service Licence
As the flagship show on any radio station, a breakfast show should be the one which sets the standard for the station. Evans does that.
By featuring some of the latest hits he is playing music that the younger members of the audience want to hear. Contrary to what most people believe, the under 40s do like listening to the latest new music releases.
At the same time, there are tracks that those at the older end of Radio 2’s audience will like – Frank Sinatra, for example. According to his page on the BBC Music website, both Russell Davies and David Jacobs have played his records on their Sunday evening shows. You wouldn’t catch Coldplay’s latest hit featuring on either of those!
There are a number of “features” of the show which make the show interactive. Part of Radio 2’s Service Licence says that it should encourage interactivity and debate, and educate listeners.
For example, Moira’s Golden Oldie is a music based feature, perhaps aimed at the older end of Radio 2’s audience? Its interactive – because it allows listeners to get in touch and be part of the show, and in a way it educates listeners, playing the music that they might have forgotten existed.
Gobsmackers, a fearture to do with how different tracks are linked, is interactive because it enables listeners to get in touch and become a part of the show… and it educates listeners, perhaps helping them to see different tracks in a way they hadn’t previously.
I suppose Moria’s Golden Oldie and Gobsmackers are OK but generally, I think the best parts of the show are the bits without features – the general banter going on between Chris and the team – Moira, Johnny and the Pause for Thought contributors. I don’t want to hear too many phone-ins early in the morning. Yes, its good to get listeners on air over the phone, but I don’t want it all the time.
The “Hello/Goodbye” feature at the end of each show… I don’t think it works. I think it sounds rather messy in a way. I would much rather that, after the last record has finnished, Evans back-announces the track, and the discussion with Ken Bruce starts… a bit like Wogan’s old hand over.
The Breakfast Show will gradually settle down over time – as people get used to the change in format to Radio 2’s early mornings and Chris’ excitement wears off, it’ll sound better and perhaps not so over-the-top in places.
Evans is not Wogan – a lot of people seem to think that they will tune in and hear him trying to copy Wogan and then tune out when they realise he’s not. But I think Radio 2 have been wise to change the format of Breakfast completely, because if the station had chosen someone Wogan’s age to replace him, the issue with finding a replacement would only come up within the next four or five years again. By choosing a younger presenter, the future of Radio 2 Breakfast is now looking secure for quite a way into the future.
One final thought… There are some people who made their minds up ages ago that they won’t listen to the programme… but there are many more who love the show and will listen, and enjoy, every day. Some media companies try to make out that the majoriy of the Radio 2 audience will not listen at all – this is not the case, because Radio 2’s audience is so big and the station is so well known that the audience is changing all the time.