Chris Moyles Is Back
Today Chris Moyles made his long awaited return to radio and launched a brand new radio station in the UK, well he re-launched Xfm as Radio X.
The Second Coming
Everyone knows I'm a hardcore and obsessive Chris Moyles fan and since his Radio 1 show finished there's been nothing to fill the void, so I'm still listening to the old shows. I've been listening day-by-day from an archive I downloaded from chrismoyles.net, I'm currently up to May 2007.
So, this makes me an obvious listeners for the new show right? Well, I'm not sure, initially I said I wasn't going to listen because I knew it wouldn't be my kind of thing, yes I'm a massive Moyles fan but I famously dislike the format of commercial radio and Xfm's music really wasn't for me but I was drawn to listen to the first show, more as a radio geek than a Moyles fan.
"Well hello again Great Britain! That’s right, the money finally ran out."
The Opening Link
I was pretty excited when the show opened with the familiar tones of the 'Cheesy Song', for about three seconds I thought "he's back, maybe I will like this" but sadly that was scratched out and replaced by a rocky bed. Tease.
Once Moyles got into his first, half hour long link it was clear that he hasn't lost it during his radio hiatus. He was great, as entertaining as ever. Open, honest and genuine, and joined by his former newsreader, Dominic Byrne, and poached from the BBC his former Radio 1 producer Pippa, as well as his regular voice over, Paul Turner.
As an anorak it was great to hear Chris talking about being in Global's HQ in Leicester Square alongside Heart and Capital etc. He had a humorous little dig at Heart's regional breakfast output and a knock at Dave Berry's Xfm career.
During his opening link Chris referred to Taylor Swift AKA "Tay Tay," new studio sidekick and Xfm regular Dave Masterman seemed unaware of Taylor's nickname and Radio X went on to tweet "so are we making 'Tay Tay' a thing?" ....uhhh, it already is very much a thing. I think this is potentially a tiny problem, Radio X is too cool for Moyles.
Not only did Chris have a laugh at the expense of other Global stations, but he also mocked his own show in that way Moyles always did. Don't get me wrong, Chris is great at talking himself up too, but it's all very tongue in cheek. He picked apart Dom's first news bulletin for including a story about the launch of Radio X, pointing out that of course listeners know about the launch, they are listening already! But this is a very Global thing to do, Global are also very good at talking themselves up.
There was a very funny segment when Chris had some spoof versions of the news bumpers... you've kind of got to hear it, I've put the video below. The fun resulted in Dom doing impressions of Global director, Richard Park... or Doctor Dick as Chris called him, apparently harking back to Richard's 'Midnight Surgery' show on Radio Clyde from his days in front of the mic.
Radio X got some unnecessary negative press in the build up to its launch. The media picked up on a line in the press release which described X as a "male-focussed" radio station. Of course all station have a target demographic.
Moyles put this to bed in a lengthy segment of the opening link naming Stephen Miron, one of Global's chief execs and saying he shouldn't have put that line in the the press release. Chris made it clear that women are very much welcome to listen and pointed out that a majority of his new team are female.
So, Chris' first song on Radio X... Girls Aloud. A poignant choice and a reminder that girls are indeed allowed.
Next up, the first "proper" song was the Rolling Stones. I kind of know who the Rolling Stones are but I didn't know the song. For me, listening to the Rolling Stones is like giving up and listening to Radio 2, it's the kind of music my dad listens to. I'm a lost former Radio 1 listener, I'm not ready for care home radio yet.
In fairness, it's not just an issue with Radio X, I didn't like when Chris played old music on his Radio 1 show either. I wasn't a fan of the Friday 'Golden Hour' feature when he played classic hits from a certain year.
'Love Machine' was supposed to be an ironic choice, Chris made it clear it was to wind up the "haters," but it was the best song all morning in my opinion.
After that Chris joked about some band he'd discovered, I didn't realise it was a joke to start with because I'd never heard of them. Next up was some familiar Muse, I like Muse but I like Muse mixed in with a variety of different musical genres.
The Libertines, the Maccabees, the Courteeners, the Foals... they're all just the names of bands who didn't win BRITs as far as I'm aware.
Noel was a good first guest. While I'm no Oasis fan, Chris and Noel have a good on air history so it was nice to hear them reunited. Noel was a guest on Chris' Radio 1 show countless times in some quite memorable interviews.
I thought it was quite funny that Noel said that X was a "bit much" for his kids at breakfast saying that they prefer "the other guy," of course referring to Moyles' replacement and now rival Nick Grimshaw on Radio 1.
Then there was a Noel Gallagher song, is he still making music?
"So, what happened to Xfm?" Noel asked, "please tell me all the presenters have been taken away and shot at dawn."
Another funny moment came off the back of the news when Noel came out with "'Global's Newsroom,' it's just a man in a room with a microphone. Why are you reading the news anyway? It should be a professional news man."
"Global's newsroom" is a bit of a jarring statement for listeners as Global isn't an audience facing brand. My nan, a Heart listener, has asked before why they say Global's newsroom. So it was nice to hear Chris explain on air that Global is a company that owns several radio station and it's their newsroom. It's good to hear that Chris understands this might be confusing for a listener, just like hearing someone mention "DAB D1" on the radio.
The interview ended with Noel's choice of song, David Bowie's 'Heroes' - my mum loves that song. Me? Not so much.
The Listening Experience
I thought it was a little odd when Chris was telling us how to listen to Radio X. Clearly reading from a script he told us that X is available on "DAB D1" ...I worked in radio for ten years, I know what D1 is but why do I need to know that X is on D1? What does it mean for a listener? I just scan for channels and if it's there I listen. I would have thought this is the kind of redundant information that Moyles would know to exclude.
As it happens, I couldn't scan for X because I binned my radio when Moyles left Radio 1, so I was listening to the show via the TuneIn app but that wasn't a great experience.
It seems Global's servers didn't hold up well to the demand of Moyles, having personality on air seems to have overloaded their servers... yep, people are actually listening now!
Not only did TuneIn go down but the brand new Radio X app experienced the same streaming issues as did the player at radiox.co.uk. This is more than likely due to the fact that Moyles has a big national following and Radio X is only available on DAB and FM in certain parts of the UK. Radio X could become the most listened to station via digital/online.
Luckily, these issue were resolved after about half an hour of nasty drop outs and the streamed dipped back in just in time for me to hear Moyles listing the X presenters he "loves," intentionally and comically leaving Johnny Vaughan's name off of the list. I'm interested to see how Chris and Johnny Yawn (as he used to calls him) get on now they're on the same schedule as Chris has given Johnny a hard time on air on his old show over the years. As far as I'm aware they've never met and when Chris was at the Brit Awards one year and asked to meet, Chris was told that Johnny had refused his offer by one of his producers.
Will I Listen Again?
Towards the end of the show there was a great chat with Vernon Kaye who follows Chris on the schedule. I've always liked Vernon's energy on air and his regular appearances on the former Chris Moyles show were always memorable and entertaining. "Hello big man!"
Chris once again discussed the "men only" bad press, this time with Vernon. Emphasising that Radio X is a station for everybody. That was followed by some ads and a song I do actually like, the Dandy Warhols' 'Bohemian Like You,' you know the one that used to be in the Vodafone adverts... then the Foals, who???
Overall it was a great listen and I'm sure Moyles fans won't be disappointed as the saviour has returned but is the show a genuine daily listen or is today just a nice, nostalgic listen for Moyles fans?
So, ignoring the streaming issues, as a Chris Moyles show, I'd give it an 7.5 out of 10, it was a good listen. It might have been slightly higher if I'd enjoyed the music too. Other than a few very interesting/entertaining James O'Brien discussions on LBC, I would go as far as to say that this morning's show was probably some of the best personality-lead content Global have ever produced.
So, will I listen again? I'm not sure, ask me in a month's time I guess. I will give it a few more days but in reality I'd rather hear more classic Girls Aloud than some obscure Oasis song which you all probably know really well but to me it's just an unidentifiable song that some radio stations were playing in an era when I was listening to "today's dance non-stop" on Galaxy.
What I liked is that the show broke some of the commercial radio format standards, Chris referred to the ads quite a bit which presenters tend not to do. Why not? Be honest, that's one of my biggest issue with commercial radio, you don't have to love every song you play, be honest about the playlist, we all know the presenters don't pick the songs themselves. One sweeper said something along the lines of "pay attention to these ads as they pay our wages." Chris also said "these ads are getting in the way of my creativity."
The elements of commercial radio I didn't like, Moyles seemed to dislike too and openly mocked them which did soften the impact of their inclusion.
It's a bit of a different world for Chris though, as he told his producer while struggling to get the ads to play at one point, he hasn't had to hit an ad break button since he was last on commercial radio in 1997.
I like that Chris seems to have got his way and demand his full length 30 minute opening link, uninterrupted by music or ads. It was the "on air microphone test" as the Radio 1 team used to call it but a link of that duration is pretty much unheard of in commercial radio. It's one of the reasons why I've never got into the Capital Breakfast show because, as good as it is, the minute they sink their teeth into a topic they've got to go to three songs, an ad break and then news. You have to wait twenty minutes for the payoff of a topic.
I used to love being a part of the 6:30 gang on Radio 1 with that rambly, "catch-up" style link that took up the first half hour of the show... will that happen every day on Radio X or was it just a day one thing? More importantly, was this whole show just a catch up with a mate that listeners haven't heard from in a while or will they come back for more tomorrow and over the coming weeks?
Either way it's clearly a great thing for X and can certainly do them no harm. In fact looking through listeners' tweets I've never seen such a well received station rebrand and such a positive response to a new breakfast show... And I've witnessed many bad reactions to this sort of thing first hand. Xfm has always been an underdog but this will really put Radio X on the dial.
Hmmmm, best get ready for work... now how did I used to listen to Moyles in the shower? Maybe I'll need to buy a new radio.
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