Mixed signals

I’m a big radio fan. As a student I’d have it on all day, every day. I even had a show on Cardiff Uni’s very own Xpress Radio for three years, which was undoubtedly the best thing I did while I was at university. I’d still be doing it if they’d let me! Now it’s Radio 2 in the office, Radio 4 at Mum and Dad’s, but in my own time, it’s always been Radio 1.

I was one of those people who loved Chris Moyles, the station’s self-proclaimed “Saviour” who stepped down from his mighty breakfast show throne in September after more than eight years. I think most of the nation can be divided into People Who Love Chris Moyles and People Who Hate Chris Moyles – but that, in a way, isn’t a bad thing. Even if he wasn’t their cup of tea, he got people talking – and one of my favourite Oscar Wilde quotes is “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” And when Chris finally announced he was going, there was a lot of talking. Even more so when his replacement – Nick Grimshaw – was announced.

Like many, I took to Twitter to express my reaction. He wasn’t on my list of potentials – I thought it would be Greg James, though he’d only just been given the second-highest-profile slot on the station, the drivetime show. I was secretly hoping it’d be Edith Bowman, who I’ve always loved. She’s intelligent, informed, and, more than just being interesting, she has interests. That’ll make more sense in a sec. But I’d always like Grimshaw’s evening show with Annie Mac. He’s got a Northern charm about him that I always found endearing, and I found his silly style genuinely humourous. And I could see why they were doing it – though Moyles claims he walked out the door, rather than being shown it, the numbers were clear. Radio 1 justify their share of the licence fee by the average age of their listeners – which should be 15-29, but wasn’t attracting enough under-thirties under Moyles (38). Grimshaw (29) on the other hand, has serious T4 appeal.

I honestly always wanted to give him a chance… I loved the station and wanted to like him. I knew it would be different from Moyles, but different isn’t always bad. He’s just… not interesting.

I really have given it a good try. I listen for just under an hour while I’m getting ready in the morning, and I must admit it’s nicer to have a bit more music going on. But then again – you don’t only listen to the radio to hear music. Especially not us Apple-generation 15-to-29-ers. I could just stick my ipod on if all I was after were tunes. I quite like someone talking to me in the morning, and Moyles’ show had a personality and an identity that Grimshaw’s just, to me, doesn’t.

What concerns me is I’m in the age group. I’m only 24. But no only does his show not appeal to me, it actively switches me OFF. The first week or so was particularly hard to get through – though I was determined to stick it out, and see if it was just an initial statement-making push. But no – he really is going to spend most of the show talking about One Direction and Justin Bieber. Yes, the target age group are interested in them, their worldwide fame shows I’m really in the minority in not really being that interested, but it really is overkill. And it all just feels a bit functional, as if they’ve gone, “What do Kids These Days like?” – tick, tick, tick. There’s no engagement. It’s a formula, but without the spark that makes a good idea a great feature.

I loved the team atmosphere of Moyles’ show. While Chris was somewhat self-involved, by talking about their own lives you felt you knew the people on the show. You become one of the team by extension – “the audience” was very much the show’s Twelfth Man. Nick is self-involved in a different way. He seems to just talks about his friends, and not in an interesting or gossip-y way – having some pretty famous friends, some of it could be pretty salacious stuff. But instead it’s just random and, frankly, boring semi-anecdotes. “That sounds like my friend’s laugh, I just can’t remember which friend.” Sorry, Nick, but I don’t really care.

When he has guests on, he tells them about himself rather than asking them questions – there’s no depth to the show or, apparently, to Grimshaw himself. I know in this modern age radio’s trying to be made more visual, but constant comments on how nice the guest looks / how rough he looks, because he got up so early, because he has to get up so early now he does the breakfast show, and he was out last night but left early because he has to get up early for the breakfast show…. Yawn.

I wanted to like it, I really did. But this is one target audience member who’s off to join someone else’s audience. Sorry, Nick.



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