Radio One Breakfst Show – Moyles or Grimmy?
Editor’s foreward – As followers of our Twitter know, I have a somewhat biased view towards the decision to swap Chris Moyles with Nick Grimshaw on the Radio One breakfast show. Moyles was a living radio legend, he played decent enough music, but above all made me laugh on the drive to work. Kind of like being with one of your mates. I tried to give Grimmy a chance, but he is still to make me laugh. OK, so I am not best placed to write this critique of the show. So I asked our very own radio expert, the one and only Patrick Downes.
Been promising MusicEyz to do this for a few months, and with one thing and another it kind of got pushed back. But as that turns out, it’s a good thing because now I can actually compare statistics.
Oh what great writing have I got for you this time? Well. Back in September 2012, a certain Chris Moyles left the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. He was the longest serving R1 Breakfast jock – even longer compared to Tony Blackburn.
Now, Moyles is what you would call radio marmite. You either loved or loathed him – just like the yeast extract based spread. Now after a full three months since Nick Grimshaw took over the hotseat, how do they compare and contrast? Do you miss Moyles and co in the mornings?
The reasoning behind Nick Grimshaw being R1B was to lower the age of the station. In the past 20 years, Radio 1 has often been accused of being “too old”. Presenters and the music has been tweaked several times, and Chris knew his time was coming. There is a train of thought that says you are only as old as you sound, and if what you talk about is still relevant, why not stay. There is also another route to take in that once become older than your target audience, you’re passed it. Radio1’s target demo is 15-24 year old. If the latter is to be believed, then you do a disservice to the audience as if you’re still relevant, and can pull in the numbers, why shouldn’t you be there. Ultimately, it’s a decision on you by management. In commercial radio, it’s also what your value is to the advertisers of the station. Do you bring in the core demo that an advertiser who pays £££’s to get a certain type of person to buy their product. Anyway, I digress.
Moyles’ realised it would be sooner rather than later, so left rather than be pushed. But in the past three months, have you been listening to Nick?
I’m not core demo for Radio 1 – but I still like listening to new music, and current chart stuff without it being on a 3 hour 15 minute loop (a track on Radio 1’s Alist is about 4 hour 15 minute recurrence I think). I wake up listening to Radio1 and listen sleepily for about 30 minutes. The first thing to note is how many songs an hour Grimmers plays compared to Chris. In that 30 minute section I regularly listen to, I think I used to count about 2 songs with Chris, but with Grimmy, you get about 5 – and he still manages to slip in the old showbiz anecdote of his & Harry Styles’ night on the tiles….
Is Grimmy trying too hard? Some presenters, TV and radio, suit different types of programme. Just because you can do a show on the telly, doesn’t necessarily mean you can present radio, and vice versa. There are a few who can do this with such ease it makes it look like a walk in the park. Wogan (Terry), Schofield (Phillip) , Evans (Chris) have all started their careers within radio before moving to TV. But to do it in reverse hasn’t really been done (although I expect to be told differently…).
Chris Moyles is described as marmite, but surely Grimmy is the same? You’re never going to please everyone all of the time. I realise they both have completely different styles, and for some Grimmy is the perfect way to start their day. Some also mourn the loss of Moylesy in the morning, and await his return to Radio 1.
In saying that, will Moyles return to Radio 1? Yes, his contract runs till 2014, but whilst he’s not on air, he’s not being paid – but it also means he can’t work for a rival commercial station, or “gardening leave” as it’s known. He’s doing quite well on the tour of Jesus Christ Superstar – which might even tour overseas yet. He has gone on record as saying he misses radio, and the ability to
sound off, so don’t completely rule out a return for Chris Moyles.
But what of his successor, and the very reason for this article? Well, RAJAR Q4 2012 was published today. RAJAR is quote “RAJAR collects information on behalf of over 300 BBC and Ofcom Licenced commercial radio stations, ranging from very small local services to the national networks. Station listening by time, duration, platform (AM/FM, DAB, Online/APP, and DTV) and location (in car, at home, at work & elsewhere) is recorded and published on a quarterly basis.”
Who listens to what and for how long, in simple terms.
Many a radio person will tell you “oh, it’s flawed”, “it’s not a true indication of who’s listening” – but the truth of the matter is, it’s all we have and as a comparison tool to other radio stations goes, it works – not very well some might say, but it gives people the ability to measure audience.
Here’s the headline from Daily Mail Online today “Chris Evans trounces his ranting rival: Radio 2 breakfast show sees boost in listeners after ratings slump for Radio 1’s Nick Grimshaw. Older men turned off by Grimshaw‘s immature banter tune in to Evans”
On reading that you may think “wow, Grimmy is losing listeners”, but further into the article is a quote from Ben Cooper, Radio 1’s boss ‘ What a fantastic quarter for Radio 1, I’m delighted with the figures and they have exceeded my expectation for a brand new breakfast show. This has been the biggest schedule change in a generation which has resulted in the station’s audience getting younger.’
In another article online today “Grimshaw attracted an average of 6.7million listeners to the breakfast show in 2012, a drop of 40,000 listeners from Chris Moyles when he departed the station. The station as a whole dropped its average reach from 11.7 million listeners to 11.1 between 2011 and 2012, according to new Rajar listening figures.”
And back to the Daily Mail online….
Grimshaw’s figures were down by 43,000 on the previous three-month period, which was mostly fronted by Moyles, and dropped by almost 550,000 on the same time last year.
Sources at the BBC claimed that Grimshaw had attracted 250,000 brand new 15-24 year-olds to the show. It was added that the overall average of the listener to the station has dropped from 33 to 32 years-of-age.
Now, tell me if I right or wrong, but that last paragraph… that’s what Radio 1 wanted to do?
My point being, is that the figures can be read/spun however you want them to be spun. A station might be losing listeners, but if those listeners are 42 year old men, and the station is aimed at 23 year old women, it’s not a bad thing. Plus, if someone is listening to your station longer, but there’s not as many of them, this too can be spun positively. The adage goes, there’s no such thing as bad press, and in terms of radio listening figures, this is true – unless of course you lose a lot of reach and hours – reach is the percentage of listeners you have in an area. If you’re a big station and you’re reach is less than your competitor, it’s a warning sign to see what can be done to put it right. All the signs I’m reading about Nick Grimshaw is that he’s there for a while yet. The timing of Moyles’ leaving couldn’t have been worse I suppose. If Scott Mills was about 5 years younger, he’d have been the natural successor, or if Greg James had been a little more settled within daytime Radio 1, he too could’ve taken the job. Who knows, this might even be the plan now. Have Nick do the show for a year or 18 months, then Greg James can naturally succeed him as the next big Radio 1 breakfast host.
Comparing and contrasting Moyles & Grimmy isn’t easy, and I’ve probably failed (like I used to in English when asked to compare and contrast), but I hope I’ve shed some light onto the workings of radio, and await derision from some American that I called a technical term a “thingymebob” instead of a “dooferswitch”. I can only write to what I know.
Patrick Downes is a former head of music, producer, and commercial radio presenter with 16 years airtime, and is now part of the community radio station at Bro Radio in Vale of Glamorgan, UK.