Starting a new radio show is always a bit daunting, even when you’ve been doing one for a year and a half. Doubly so when you are taking over a slot previously inhabited by two friends. This morning I broadcast my first show in the 10am-1pm slot on LBC 97.3, having taken over from Andrew Pierce and Kevin Maguire. When the LBC management asked me to do this show we both agreed on one main thing – that it would be different to my weekday evening show. It had to be or there was little point in me dropping Friday nights to do Sunday mornings. Bang goes the weekend!
Currently there is very little competition in the political field on the radio on Sunday mornings. Five Live has Double Take, but that finishes at 11. After Broadcasting House at 9, there’s little for current affairs fanatics on Sunday mornings on Radio 4. So I think there is a real opportunity to make my Sunday morning show a real destination for all the people who may watch Andrew Marr and Andrew Neil but have little to entertain them in between on the radio.
LBC is known for its phone-ins and we certainly want our audience to remain a big part of our show. But we also want to introduce a bit of humour and quirkiness into the format. Older readers may remember that I used to deputise for Andrew Pierce on 5 Live’s Sunday Service ten or so years ago – presented by Fi Glover, still the best female radio presenter in the UK in my opinion. That show managed to make politics accessible and entertaining, something which most radio productions have struggled with ever since. It’s too easy to fall for gimmickry and rudery and go for the lowest common denominator. I give you the 10 O’Clock Show on Channel 4 as evidence. OK, it’s TV, but you know what I mean.
We also want to use the LBC website to offer our listeners something extra. Today Julian Fellowes was our first guest. I pre-recorded the interview and we used about half of it on the programme but have made the whole thing on the net, HERE. So we didn’t use the stuff about the Titanic on air, but for those interested it is available online.
Similarly, our package on Ed Balls was 10 minutes long and included an interview with the charity he is running the London Marathon for. We couldn’t use it all on air, so we put it all online. Listeners are now getting used to listening to more online, and this enables them to get more value out of the parts of the programme they really like. Listen to the full Ed Balls package HERE.
Sunday morning radio and TV shows always want to get a bit of a scoop and make the odd headline or two. So when I saw Ed Staite’s blog on Friday about the sting operation I asked him if he’d like to come on to talk about the experience. He agreed to do so and decided to talk exclusively to us and turn down Sky and 5 Live. Bosses very pleased. And the interview provided a fascinating insight for listeners into how the media works. Or shouldn’t work. Listen to the Ed Staite interview HERE.
At 11 we talked to Adam Boulton about the politics of populism, which was really an excuse to look back on the week in politics before we then looked forward to the week ahead with LBC’s political correspondent Tom Cheal and Olly Mann, who will be playing a big role in the show in forthcoming weeks, I hope.
At 11.30 we introduced a feature which could have gone rather awry, but it seems to have gone very well. I’m a big fan of David Letterman style Top Ten Lists and wanted to think of a way of introducing them into the programme, so I hit on a format of offering advice to someone in the news. So this week’s victim was George Galloway. I’ll reproduce it here, but you have to imagine it being played out over the song ‘Respect Yourself’.
Top Ten Pieces of Advice from LBC 97.3 to George Galloway
Get the name of your constituency right. Not all northern towns begin with B Watch your twitter account for ‘hackers’ Stay away from foreign dictators. Especially ones with big moustaches Don’t get a cat. But if you do, be sure to call it Rula Don’t wear red lycra at PMQs Avoid words like indefatigable Don’t walk out of interviews. It ain’t clever and it ain’t funny Ditch the Scottish accent. Learn to speak West Yorkshire. Sit with the LibDems in the House of Commons. It will confuse them. Repeat after yourself: Respect is a two way thing
We then had a quick chat with David Cameron’s personal trainer, Matt Roberts, who almost succeeded in persuading me I really need to get more exercise or I’m going to die.
And at 11.45 we launched our bid to find Britain’s cleverest politician. Tom Harris came into the studio and did reasonably well (Listen HERE) to get 26 points out of a possible 50. We’ll be putting up a league table on the website in future weeks, not that we’re copying Jeremy Clarkson’s Star in a Reasonably Priced Car. Oh no. Never let it be said. I’m now thinking about who to get on next week. Ideas?
Our final hour, it has to be said, was very atypical of what we’ll be doing in subsequent weeks. We decided to do an hour on the Falklands. We had Sukey Cameron from the Falkland Islands Government Office in London in the studio, along with Michael Nicholson, one of the two TV reporters who sailed with the Task Force. We also talked to Major General Julian Thompson, Rick Jolly, Alan West, captain of HMS Ardent and then went live to Port Stanley to talk to fur Falkland Islanders. The hour flew by. In all honesty we had too many guests, but they were all very informative and entertaining. Listen HERE.
And so ended a very full three hours. Reaction so far has been overwhelmingly positive but whenever there’s change there will be people who hanker after what they were used to.
And so the planning for next week begins!