A Week Of Chris Moyles On Radio X
If you're here then you know that Chris Moyles made his return to radio last week, it was big news in the world of radio and I blogged about it here.
It wasn't really fair to review the show based on the first day as really it felt more like a one-off reunion show rather than something real and longterm, so I thought I'd make the effort to listen for a week and then give my thoughts.
"It's like this radio station was just invented for me to have a laugh with"
Making The Effort To Listen
I say "make an effort" because it has been an effort at times. In the Radio 1 days I loved the show and jumped out of bed at 6:30 every day to listen. This week, I haven't been as committed, partly because of the music not being my taste, partly because of the ads and partly because of the platform limitations and technical problems. The app and website have been unreliable and on days when I've missed then show I tried the listening back on the website, this feature sometimes worked but when it did the audio quality was noticeably poor, it's not a scratch on iPlayer's listen again.
Chris said himself, "you can listen again any time you like.... as long as it's working and you can find it." Luckily a friend of mine smuggled out daily copies of the show for me in a good quality so that's how I listened back most days. The benefit of listening this way is that I could skip the music and ads.
Oh but as I type this, Ricki Lee has just tweeted "Wow, The @ChrisMoyles Show on @radiox on-demand audio just got an audio quality improvement. Thank the lord my ears have stereo sound."
Do you mean Lord Miron, Ricki?
"Radio X, I’d like to get into the music… but there isn't any thanks to Moyles. Now returned to Radio 6. #theyplaymusic"
I generally enjoyed the show, it has been a good listen on the whole. When I listened live I found the best way to cope was to shower, make breakfast and get ready for work during the songs, there's only about five an hour so the music doesn't get in the way of Chris too much but when I hear it, it grates.
Whatever the first song was on Thursday morning I found really jarring. I agree with Noel Gallagher's kids, it is a bit much for breakfast time. On Tuesday there were two Pulp songs in one show, why? I thought people only listened to songs like that ironically and at tacky, themed club nights.
I listened all week and made it as far as 9am on Friday, I couldn’t listen to the 'platinum hour,' the thought of an hour of Radio X music with barely any Moyles just doesn't work for me.
Chris mentioned McFly day, the popular Radio 1 feature where Chris played McFly’s 'Star Girl' every Friday, clearly Radio X is too cool for McFly so Chris and Dom discussed what song would replace it. They settled on #McFooFlyDay. So every Friday for the next three years, the Foo Fighters' 'Breakout', it's an alright song but it doesn't have the cheesy, fun feel of McFly.
McFly - 'Star Boy'
Day one, as I mentioned in my previous post, Chris talked a lot about Global and being in Global's Leicester Square headquarters. Chris always talked about other stations on his show, the team often pretended to audition for Radio 2 and other regional BBC stations, they played their jingles and talked up to the vocals on tracks from those station's playlistes. Monday's mentions of all of the Global brands was excessive.
So all these mentions of Global makes me wonder if it could be the bosses, Dr Dick, Mr Tabor and Lord Miron (as Moyles refers to them) being clever and pushing Global as an audience facing brand. The news bulletins comes from "Global's newsroom" and in a few week's it's 'Make Some Noise,' Global's in-house charity… could part of Chris' roll be to raise awareness of Global and promote the brands under its umbrella? Or am I giving Global too much credit and actually it's just Moyles pissing around? It's probably the latter, often when I think Global are being clever it turns out to be a fluke.
So, let's work through the week. Like I said, I enjoyed listening but, I'm wondering if I enjoyed it more than most because I'm a former Global employee. I've heard many of my friends and former colleagues being discussed on the radio this week and let's face it, who wouldn't want to hear someone take the piss out of their bosses on the radio?
There was talk about how Richard Park has it written into his contract that he gets paid more than every Global presenter… that was some kind of football reference, I think it went over my head in the sports news, too laddy for me. There were gags about Ashley Tabor working from L.A. when the weather was bad in the UK.
But it wasn't just Global staff who took a pasting, it was also their technology. The Radio X app was branded "rubbish" on air, Chris talked about how the servers couldn’t cope with streaming the show due to the overwhelming demand and joked that he was "thinking of running a competition for people to find the listen again button on the app."
Chris also commented on the show's sponsor, O2 Priorities, he didn't say much, just that he never gets any of the offers they talk about giving their customers… later in the week he talked about the O2 voiceover. He didn't say anything bad, but I can imagine a time where he does say something that upset a paying client of Global. He never had any problem slating the bands on the line up at Radio 1's Big Weekend or appearing on other shows, so I don't think he'd hold back if he had something to say about Detol or Ginster’s pasties.
If you're one of the more level-headed Globalers then you'll probably have enjoyed all of the in jokes and insider mentions, including Chris’ funny little fact he mentioned while talking about how much has changed since he was on the radio last, "my friend Simon is now my friend Stephanie."
One Is Not Amused
OK, I found all of this funny, but will his new colleagues and the management at Global find it as funny? The problem with Global is, and I know this from experience, they think they're the cool kids. They don't have sense of humour, especially when it comes to laughing at themselves. I'm sure Moyles will get many people at Global’s backs up, if he hasn’t done already... and by the sounds of it he might have made an enemy of Jamie Theakston and apparently Lisa Snowdon gave Chris a dirty look outside the building too.
One of the major themes of the week has been invading other radio stations' studios, although it failed to last the whole week. On Tuesday it was Andrew Castle on Smooth (see what I mean about promoting Global's brands, I wouldn’t have been able to name a single Smooth presenter until this week) and on Wednesday Chris attempted to break in to Heart’s studio while Jamie Theakston and Emma Bunton were mid-link but their producer saved the day by running to the door and locking Chris out. I can't imagine this feature is very popular with those outside of Chris' circle at Global.
As well as a lack of a sense of humour, the other problem is the egos at Leicester Square. Not only do Global people think they've reached maximum cool, they also think they're are perfection… many of the people who work Global are the best in their game but when working there I found it frustrating that they were never willing to learn from others radio groups. Time and time again I've heard them mock smaller radio station's events because they don’t have the huge names and production budgets of Global's events, they're quick to judge the output of other stations and are always negative. In fact, only once in my time at Capital did I hear the programming team make reference to a rival because they liked something they'd done. In fact I remember it well because I was so surprised to hear them talking positively about Kiss and a great custom intro they'd produced for a Rihanna track.
When I worked at Global I felt like the enemy within the building as a Moyles fan because barely anyone there had anything good to say about Moyles. Of course, in reality there are few presenters at Global who can pull in and entertain an audience like he does. So I'm sure him just being in the building and seemingly getting away with whatever he wants will result in a dented ego for some presenters.
But it's not just his presence, I'm sure his comments on air will annoy some Global staff. For example, while talking about Capital Breakfast host Lisa Snowdon on Tuesday, Moyles came out with the line, "if you want to sound good on the radio, always do your show with Dave Berry." He’d also outed Heart presenter Emma Bunton for showing up an hour into her breakfast show with Jamie and joked that he and his team are in the building longer than the hosts of the Capital Breakfast Show, saying that the Capital studio "door is swinging at two seconds past 10 every day."
"The greatest thing to happen to Global since Toby Tarrent."
There were some really funny moments in week one. Of course there was all the fun with Dom and the fake news stabs on Monday. On Tuesday Chris claimed to be flicking around some of the other Global stations and instead played clips they’d recorded of some of their presenters slagging him off and included Lisa Snowdon branding Dominic Byrne a traitor after his brief spell on Capital ended to allow him to move to Chris’ show.
Another funny link was when Chris and Dom pretended to be Smooth presenters, picking out some appropriate songs from the play out system. Chris introduced one of the songs, "I hope you're having a smooth day, this goes out to Roger who's in hospital today, he's having an operation on his nether regions, from what he's told me he's a bit smooth down there too... let's hope it's not simply red after."
It was at this moment that Chris realised that whatever uncool song he played on the radio would pop up on the Radio X app on in the 'now playing' information on the website and app… so after Simply Red he played enough of Barry Manalow to make it appear on the station's recently played list.
The Muse competition was also a highlight. Traditionally competitions on commercial radio are simply "Hi John, how's Bradford today? ...great! Who's the lead singer of Muse? Correct, you're going to L.A." but this competition had substance, a twist and a reason to listen. There was tears, comedy and one very excited winner who called Chris a "wind up merchant" - she'd have been well within her rights to call him worse than that.
I also enjoyed the 'What Did You Think' feature. Again, another very non-Global thing to do. They went through reviews of the previous day's show and read them out, good or bad… now that is a first, reading negative comments on air, if anyone else did that at Global they'd never be able to show their face in the Garrick again! Negative comments get buried, never broadcast but Chris has nothing to worry about, he knows some people don't like him. It's that understanding of the audience which I feel puts him above mollycoddled presenters who are always told they are the best and therefore have nothing to strive for.
Dom opened this feature by singing the words "what did you think, what did you think" over the theme tune to 'Blankety Blank' which doesn't strike me as being a particularly cool Radio X kind of reference. Pippa then read out the first line of a review and the team had to guess whether it was positive or negative.
'Blankety Blank' wasn’t the only off target reference, there was also plenty of mentions of Taylor Swift across the week, as well as the previously mentioned Simply Red and Barry Manalow references. There was also a link where Dom talked about how Olly Murs had been ignoring his text, I think the Manchester music scene would implode if Radio X played Olly so it’s lucky that went no further… but obviously that didn't bother me, the more they moved away from X-topics, the closer they got to my world.
A caller to the show seemed to be coming from my point of view too, he mention 'Dominic the Donkey’ which, if you're a listener of the "old show" you will know well. It's an obscure Christmas song about Dominic the Christmas donkey which became a cult classic on the show because on Dominic the news reader. The caller asked if the track would get a play on Radio X but Chris said he's "sick of it" and won't play it this year… we'll see. Dom added that loads of people on Twitter have been asking if they're going to play it.
"We're the only thing on Radio X right now."
While there was plenty of good content in the shows, there was also a few bits that I felt didn't work. The one main thing I feel the show is missing is features. Benchmark features in shows isn't something Global does, any competition is usually either paid for by a client or exists to generate money through premium rate calls and for that reason they're more about delivering a commercial message than being entertaining. When Chris launched the breakfast show on Radio 1, he started off his first show with three ongoing features… Buzz Off, the Ramble and the legendary Carpark Catchphrase. There was nothing like this in the new show, just the chance to text in for Muse tickets, although the did result in an entertaining final on Friday as I've mentioned.
After the attempted break in to the Heart studio, Chris said "that'll look better in the Facebook video than it sounded on the radio" and he was right. I watched the video back and it was very funny (good work Carl AKA Russell and happy birthday by the way) but on air it died. Chris' radio mic went dead, the studio went quiet without Moyles there and we just ended up listening to a strange out of context chunk of Heart. Moyles did do things like this on his Radio 1 show but they'd usually send Aled or Comedy Dave out to do it so you still had Chris' presence behind the studio mic. If Chris did leave the studio then Comedy Dave was perfectly capable of padding and keeping it interesting while Moyles was running around. Dom, Pippa and Dave "Madam" Masterman don't seem to be capable of doing the same, Dom just sounded awkward while the other two stayed quiet in the background.
Another thing I found a little odd was the mentions of the camera. Global have basically been capturing the whole show in video form and chucking out the best bits through social media and the website, but not so much on YouTube, which saddens me as a YouTuber. This is all great but Chris mentioned the camera quite a bit, "can we get that on camera" etc. As a listener it made it sound like I could watch it live and that I was missing out, especially as that part of the show might not even make it as a video highlight, like when Dom got locked out of the studio and Chris said "turn camera one all the way around." We don’t really need to hear that but it’s only a minor point.
While most of the content was great, some of it just wasn't for me, the guest on Tuesday's show was Kelly Jones from the Stereophonics. I have no interest in the Stereophonics and found it a little dull to listen to but not as dull Patrick Kielty later in the week who sent me back to sleep… I know he was a regular guest on "the old show" but I don’t really know who he is, all I really know about him is that he was once on 'Fame Academy’ when Richard Park was a judge and Parky gave Paddy the "wanker" gesture behind Cat Deeley’s back.
There was also a link where the team did impressions of The Smiths and Morrisey... I don't know who either are but assume they must be the same person, it’s the first time I've wanted to skip a link while listening to a pre-record of the new show.
So, Next Week...
Will I continue to listen to the show? Honestly, probably not. Certainly not to the extent I used to listen.
If I get DAB in my car I might listen if I happen to be travelling to work at that time but for that to happen I'd have to leave London and move back to Bristol to even make it worth buying a car, let alone a DAB radio. So, it's unlikely.
I might dip in from time to time and if someone share's a funny video from the show and it pops up on my timeline then I will definitely watch it... although I don't follow/like Radio X, I don't follow any radio stations any more.
I did enjoy what I heard but it doesn't have the same magic as the Radio 1 show did. It's not quite the same for me without Comedy Dave and Aled, there's no victim on the show which was always entertaining and the new, self-proclaimed "nice Chris" needs a female to pick on/flirt with and Pippa, for some reason isn't filling that roll.
The main reason the show alienates me though, and it's no surprise, is the music. I don't want to sit through the likes of the Vaccines, the Folas and Nothing But Thieves (who??). The ads aren't too intrusive... yet, but there's a worry they might start selling in more ads as the show proves its popularity. It would be great if they could go for one big sponsor deal rather than ad breaks, in the same way the Vodafone Big Top 40 does.
One final thing that Chris mentioned which pleased me was when he said that the "engineers have been great here, they've given us everything we've asked for." My opinion of Global’s engineering team is exactly the same and when I left Global that team got the most sincere thank you from me out of everyone in the building. While other departments put up obstacles and said we couldn’t do things, the genius engineers always found a way to make things work for me. I did a lot of new and groundbreaking stuff in my time there, things that paved the way to the awesome standards of visualisation the stations have now. I'm not going to get all "Brownlow" on you and claim I invented radio visualisation but, I was there at the beginning and the engineers made it all possible.
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