Monday, 27 September 2010

Chris Moyles Rant

So Chris Moyles (Radio 1 Breakfast DJ) has had a rant about not being paid. An understandable, perfectly justifiable rant. I worked in radio for around 10 years and I can imagine any one of the breakfast show presenters i worked with would have had a similar rant, if the same thing had happened to them. There is something about getting up so early in the morning and talking to yourself for 4 hours, that means a rant is never far away.

While everyone else is in bed and it's still dark, you have to be smart, silly, smiley, personable and funny. While everyone else recovers from a hangover, you have to be sober and sensible and on the top of your game. You're not allowed an off day, the listeners and the bosses don't want a breakfast show presenter who is upset, tired or angry.

The breakfast show carries the rest of the radio station. Breakfast has the largest potential audience. A good RAJAR at breakfast can have a positive impact across the rest of the day. The main breakfast presenter carries the show, and can often feel like they're carrying the whole station.

Any number of things risk a rant from the breakfast show host:
  • Arriving at 5am to find someone has eaten your breakfast, which you left in the office the previous day. There are no shops open, you're hungry, how are you going to "perform" without your bowl of cornflakes? Or as Chris Moyles experienced, there is no milk.
  • Discovering that while you were at home yesterday afternoon someone has: rearranged the furniture, broken your chair, borrowed your headphones, changed the order of the bed box on BCX, reconfigured the studio desk (delete as applicable).
  • Being told to play the same highly restricted playlist day after day, trying to ignore the texts of complaint, and the 10 great songs in the chart you're not allowed to play because they're too urban. Or my favourite: you can't play that great song, because it's too new and the listeners won't know it, well how do you expect them to get to know it if I don't play it?
  • Having to cover on air while you're let down by defective equipment, which hasn't been fixed or replaced despite you complaining last week.
  • Presenting a competition that sucks with a rubbish prize, because sponsorship and promotions sold it to the client and you weren't consulted.
  • Coming off air at 10am and realising that nobody in the office has listened to the show. Not the boss, not the sales team, not the mid-morning presenter on after you.
Now, all of these things may seem quite minor in the grand scheme of things but combine with a lack of sleep, an immense amount of pressure and no cornflakes... and you've got a rant on your hands.

So, I understand why Chris Moyles would get upset by something as significant as not being paid. As I said, it's understandable. What I don't understand, what I find surprising and disappointing, what the DJs I worked with would never have done, is to have that rant on air.  Why did he do it? And why he was allowed to?

Want to read more?  Try today's Media Guardian question of the week: What should be done with Chris Moyles?

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