Monday, December 24, 2012
What does it take to be a breakfast radio presenter? EDP and Evening News reporter David Freezer found out recently when he met BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham.
Millions of people wake up to the sound of breakfast radio presenters around the country every day.
Some people spend as much time listening to their radio station of choice in the morning as they do with their friends over the course of a week.
It is almost like those presenters become friends, as the outpouring of annoyance demonstrated this year when Chris Moyles left the BBC Radio One breakfast show after more than 10 years.
In Norfolk we have our very own Chris who wakes up tens of thousands of people every morning, BBC Radio Norfolk’s Chris Goreham.
There must be something in the name; Chris Moyles, Chris Goreham, Chris Evans on BBC Radio Two, Chrissie Jackson of Rob and Chrissie fame on Heart FM and formerly Broadland 102.
There must be more to it than a name though.
Breakfast presenters are among that elite bunch of people who get up when few others would even contemplate it.
Along with milkmen, delivery drivers, bakers and the like, people who work on breakfast radio have to be up early, really early, as I found out.
The difference is, the people who go on air have to do their best to sound energised and wide awake to bring us the early headlines, weather and travel news.
I met with Chris and the Radio Norfolk breakfast team, including producer Steve Martin and newsreader Nicky Price, at the rather horrible time of 4.30am.
Chris said of the early starts: “I don’t think you ever get used to it. The moment my alarm goes off at 3.30, that gives you a big kick.
“This time of the year (autumn and winter) it’s not so nice, but during the spring and summer it can actually be quite nice.
“At that time you drive and the roads aren’t too bad, certainly compared to coming into the city at 9am, and you’ll see lots of wildlife that you don’t normally see, so it’s not always a bad time to be up and about.”
Chris, 30, took over the breakfast show reins in September 2009, having started working for Radio Norfolk in 1999 and already being well-known to listeners because of his commentary on Norwich City matches. After working with Steve to confirm the initial line-up for that day’s show and fine-tuning audio clips, Chris gave me a tour of the studio they use every morning to broadcast across the county.
I asked Chris what it is about breakfast radio that makes it so sought after by presenters.
He said: “I think the privilege is that you are on at that time of the day when you know more people are listening than at any other time.
“There is also a responsibility in trying to give people the information that is relevant to them, about the roads they are going to drive on and what the weather is going to be like in their area, and national stations don’t really do that.” On the morning I spent with the Radio Norfolk team, Wednesday, December 19, one of the stories being discussed was whether the sport of darts was as popular in Norfolk as it used to be.
Chris let me in on a little trick of the trade by taking a clip out of one of his interviews and using it to create a bit of mystery for his listeners.
The quote said: “We have six on a Monday, four on a Tuesday, three ladies on a Wednesday and two on a Thursday.”
Chris played the clip early in the show and soon had all sorts of guesses flying in about what the man was talking about, but none guessed it was a pub landlord talking about darts teams.
The precise timings for the news, weather and travel showed me that there was a lot more to radio presenting than meets the eye. Or should that be ear?
But there was one thing which I had really never noticed before.
The most subtle, normal thing in the world that I have never appreciated before; the date.
At the top of every hour Chris reads the day’s date and I felt it summed up exactly why so many people still switch on the radio first-thing in the morning.
Chris added: “People wake up and they want to know that everything is okay, that nothing serious has happened overnight, am I going to get to work or school on time.
“So it’s our job to reassure people of those things and, hopefully, put a bit of a spring in their step with some entertainment as well.”
Just listen out for it next time you listen to the radio in the morning and remember, there is more to being a breakfast radio presenter than being good at getting up early.