30 October 2008

Brand awareness

I initially wrote this in the comments section of Andrew's blog entry on the Russell Brand/Jonathan Ross furore, but as my comment is the 106th of more than 150, you might not have seen it. Oh, to have a readership of that volume...

So, lovingly reproduced here, my view:

If it had happened on commercial radio, the perpetrators would have been sacked on the spot.

And if the BBC do get rid of them, maybe they could replace them with career broadcasters rather than celebrity chancers who see radio as an easy, part-time payday.

You can add BBC local radio to the comment about the commercial industry, by the way.

Since I wrote this, Brand has quit. I've only ever liked him once, and I have to say I couldn't bear him on the radio. Don't believe the figures quoted; he had fewer than a million listeners at 9pm on Saturday nights, with his audience naturally preferring to get legless when he's on air (as does Brand himself, as he pre-recorded every programme he did) and download the podcast later. The podcast figures are the ones that bump up his profile, but podcasts are no good when RAJAR comes round.

My main gripe is that the BBC won't learn from this. In both Brand (comedian) and Ross (television host), they hired celebs for whom radio isn't and never has been their bread and butter, but a lucrative part-time job which pays for the holiday each year. If they don't see it as their main source of income, they won't treat it with the same respect. I've seen with my own eyes certain famous individuals who think radio is just about talking, and then they suddenly dry up when the red light goes on and develop an expression of sheer, inconcealable fright. This is why I also hate it when the credential-free likes of Aled Jones (singer) and Davina McCall (shouting hair product pusher) get Radio 2 daytime cover - on the grounds that what they lose in listeners they'll gain in headlines - instead of any number of professional, career presenters within the network (and not just Alex Lester, but the likes of Richard Allinson, Mo Dutta, Janice Long, Pete Mitchell).

Brand has resigned, but it's unlikely that an ambitious, talented broadcaster who has carved a fine industry-wide reputation will get a nice Saturday night gig to create their own national status as his replacement. They'll find someone else off the "trendy" list, for whom radio is something to toss about with, and wait for the figures to slump or the ego to take over, both of which seems to have happened in Brand's case.


Mondo said...

I'm completly pee'd off with the pair of them (and the mood that only the Mail and media are puffing it up, and people aren't genuinely annoyed by these two arses)

Being edgy is no excuse, it's to do with context - Jonathan Ross was inevitably going to take a tumble at some point, over the past few years he's clearly become overly-bullish, and seems to believe he's untouchable because of the heavy investment in him.

This was complete invasive and contemptous - the sorry apology was a giggly look-how-funny-we-are ramble.

For all that stick that Bernad Manning, Benny Hill (I'm not condoning their material BTW) and similar old school comics got - I don't think any of them would have done what these two nit-wits did. Or had a producer that gave it the thumbs up to air.

JM said...

Amen to that, and I say it from the perspective of someone who spends his working life trying to wrestle a competent and listenable radio show out of a "celeb" who has been hired purely on the basis of their exploits in a previous career or supposed name value.

This comes of working for a boss who spent years at a BBC network and remains convinced that "names" are the starting point to building an audience.

Not that all of them are bad, and there are some individuals who show tremendous broadcasting talent. Nonetheless that didn't stop me the other night fighting with one of them and his desire to have me wank the fader harder whilst he was doing his intro over a bed, because that was how he thought radio was supposed to be and that he would sound really good because of it.

Bright Ambassador said...

Danny Baker made the great point of telling his 606 listeners the other night that he's getting his CV out.
Baker for Saturday mornings I say.

Matthew Rudd said...

But Danny Baker is a London-centric acquired taste - all of his national radio efforts on leading stations have been a disaster.

Matthew Rudd said...

By the way, Alex is doing Russell Brand's slot this Friday with two hours of "album-led music" while Richard Allinson is sitting in for Jonathan Ross. Neither will get the gig full-time, of course, as they aren't of sufficient profile - talent yes, profile no. But it'll be nice to have some real radio people on the radio for a bit and give us all a rest.

Matthew Rudd said...

By Friday I meant Saturday, clearly.

JM said...

Meanwhile Lesley Douglas falls on her sword in the now traditional round of taking the rap (for all their faults, BBC management are very consistent in understanding where the buck stops). Those in the know describe her as "a lovely woman". I know her as the evil witch who shafted Richard Allinson by dumping him from evenings for no good reason the moment her handbag hit the desk.

Bright Ambassador said...

"But Danny Baker is a London-centric acquired taste"
Mmm, don't really buy that. The disaster on Radio 1 was, I feel, down to the fact that the listeners felt a huge amount of affection for DLT. Therefore whoever replaced him was bound to be drinking from a poisoned chalice. Just ask Ken Bruce about that.
Baker's take on 606 is superb.