Stephen McGinty: Mornings won’t be the same
CHRIS Moyles and his team have been an integral part of my early morning routine for the past eight years. If he’s now too old to be a presenter on Radio 1, then I’m certainly too old to listen.
Dear Chris, I’ve never written an open letter before, so please accept my apologies if this missive does not quite fit the accepted form.
I had thought of ‘tweeting’ you, but the idea of slicing up a 1,400 word column into hundreds of 140 character tweets just seemed way too exhaustive so, instead, you’ll have to make do with a large slab of indigestible text instead of a buffet of literary slivers.
I had planned to write a more traditional column, you know the sort, one that examined your track record on Radio 1, and slotted you into the firmament of ‘star’ DJs but, frankly, you sounded so disheartened on this morning’s show that I’ve decided to opt for a more personal approach.
I’m writing as one of your fans. For the past few years you’ve been an integral part of my morning routine.
Three days a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday, my wife and I get up at 6.30am and drive into town for a Starbucks coffee – grande skinny caramel machiatto and grande skinny mocha, wet, no foam, if you want to know (and you will, because these are the minutiae on which your show is built) before heading to the gym.
We also go on Sunday, but as you’re not on then, you won’t really care, but we do because then we have to debate which station to listen to in your absence.
As a journalist this is a rather grave admission to make, as all my peers will be (or so they claim) tuning in to the Today Programme or Good Morning Scotland, but on the grounds that I’m sure to be informed about anything I miss as soon as I reach the office and that my wife shouts: ‘Boooooorrrrrriiiiiiiigggggg’ should I decide to dabble with the dial, it is your company we keep.
Now, I must confess that it was initially by default rather than actual choice.
The original early morning show of choice was the Rock Radio Breakfast Show with Billy Rankin, but when that was cancelled a few years ago we switched to Radio 1 and now it is an early morning tradition. One set in stone. Or, at least, for the next few weeks.
It is rather hard to analyse your exact appeal, but what I can say is that when I climb, bleary-eyed and still muffling a yawn, into the car at the crack of dawn (on winter mornings at least) I find your company particularly welcome.
And, to be honest, it’s not just your company but Aled, the producer, ‘Comedy’ Dave, your sidekick, Dom, the news presenter, and Tina, the sports presenter. I can’t even particularly remember any hilarious discussions or witty topics, it’s just the general badinage that keeps me going. On a particularly good morning, we’ll sit in contented silence listening to whatever has gone on in your life or your current obsession. On other mornings, you and the gang babble away in the background, but what I should say is that you are noted by your absence.
Whenever you head off on holiday, it is a hassle for us. “Where is he?” we’ll mutter when an unfamiliar voice drones out of the stereo. “He can’t be on holiday again, surely not?” As if you are a particularly fortunate neighbour of whose air miles we are both rather jealous. Then there is the brief frisson of delight when you return. I mean, don’t get too excited, it only lasts for a second or two and it’s not as if we have a calendar on which we mark off the days until you return: “Just one more sleep!” It’s just a simple: ‘ah, he’s back. Good.’
The timing of our mornings with you are always the same. By the time ‘classical class’ comes on, (your insistence on playing the same piece of classical music each day to mark the last few seconds of snuggling slumber for those still in bed has got a little wearing: why always the ‘Rites of Spring’?) we are careering round George Square on route to the gym. Luckily, we are out in time to hear the big interviews after eight o’clock and then it’s the last few minutes before we get home.
I imagine all your listeners will have a set routine. The circumstances, routes and environments will be radically different, but I’ll wager the happy contentment will be the same. Or, at least, it was until Tuesday when you told us you were leaving. As a seasoned professional journalist I was, of course, not listening that day. My wife called to let me know that we would, sadly, be auditioning for a new breakfast show come September.
Now, I know this can’t have been easy for you, at 38, being told that Radio 1, whose prime demographics of 15-29 need a younger voice and that your services, in the breakfast slot at least, were no longer required. The press, as is our national character, has not been particularly kind, and, to judge by the last few mornings conversation, it appears to have got under your skin. But, of course, when a long run comes to an end, it is indeed a time for reflection and they are going to rake over the controversial moments. Personally, I quite liked the fact that you had a rant on air about not being paid for two months. It seemed a quite reasonable complaint and one every listener could identify with, well, if you sidestep the fact that you’re monthly wage is probably twice their annual wage, but it fitted with the style of the show, which has always revealed the nuts and bolts required to put a programme on air. The fact that Chris Evans, who used to call in sick then be photographed the same day in the pub, went on to describe you as unprofessional and that you should go seemed the very definition of irony.
Does the public really think that you are homophobic for, once, dismissing a ringtone as ‘gay’? No. Or sexist for previously describing women who pee in the bath as ‘dirty whores’. Perhaps some might, but who cares? This is the tightrope you have walked with ease and considerable aplomb for over eight years, during which time you have raised Radio 1’s ratings to its highest levels. But all entertainment careers (except, perhaps, Terry Wogan) end in a degree of failure and your recent drop in listeners and the BBC Trust’s report on the need for Radio 1 to focus more tightly on younger listeners has triggered a time for change. Yes, it would have been cool to reach a decade in the breakfast chair (which conjures an image of a throne made of Wheetabix and Rice Crispy boxes), but, sadly, for us as much as for you, it was not to be.
What I’ve enjoyed about the show over the past few years is the geographical range. The dedication to roaming across Britain and broadcasting from all corners and the curious sense you get that we listeners are a united band. I remember Dominic reading out the weather about a glorious scorching day then adding the line: ‘except in Scotland’ then commenting that he was always having to insert this particular line into the weather reports. I don’t really know why but it didn’t sound patronising or metropolitan, it just sounded real.
I can’t quite believe that after years of never having found a particular breakfast show I liked enough to tune in each day that I’m going to have to find another. I remember when Terry Wogan broadcast his last show and the emotions of his loyal Togs.
Look, it’s not going to be like that, best to set you straight here and now. There will be no tears, but there will be a certain moody silence and a dank deflation that a fun band, a group of people you liked to hang out with, has stepped out of the room, and, to be honest, stepped out of your life. I shall not be staying with Radio 1, if you are too old to present, I’m certainly too old to listen and, as a point of principle, I cannot listen to any man who wears skinny jeans.
I had pondered whether it would be sincere to say thank you, for all the fun mornings, or whether in the back of my head I’d be bleating that a salary of £700,000 from our licence fee was gratitude enough, but now is not the time to be petty or churlish.
So, Chris, thanks for the many rain-soaked, misty, dark and dreich mornings we have spent together. You will be missed.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Wednesday 19 June 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 20 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North