I’m a hard person to please when it comes to breakfast radio. Most of currently fashionable “zany” style breakfast show leave me cold, and over the years there have been few that I have been really hooked on. Totally straight music doesn’t quite do it for me either, as in the mid 80s, before I got involved in Radio Caroline myself, I always much preferred Caroline‘s breakfast shows (Johnny Lewis, Kevin Turner, Peter Philips) to the Laser 558 ones, even though I would have listened to Laser a lot during the rest of the day. There was more warmth and personality on the Caroline breakfast, plus news too, which is an essential in my world.
I might add here that years later I was to do the breakfast show myself on Caroline, out of necessity when there were few people around. I would never consider my own breakfast shows anything to write home about, and was always glad to relinquish the slot when there was someone more experienced on board. Likewise I did breakfast on Phantom from 2000-2002 when it was a pirate, but wouldn’t have dreamed of seeking the slot in the later, legal phase.
So here is a listing of the very few breakfast shows which have really engaged me as a listener over the years.
(Note: any station that I have worked on is automatically excluded, as I can’t really judge from the listener’s viewpoint).
Kevin & Andrew on Atlantic 252 – mid 1990s
Kevin Palmer and Andrew Turner (news) were the perfect pairing in my opinion, and had exactly the right balance between the music, and a little bit of houmour and chit chat. Breakfast on the station was never the same once Kevin left.
Kara Noble & Lee Simpson – Heart (London) – mid 1990s.
For an all-too brief few months when Heart first opened in London, there was a perfectly balanced, really enjoyable pairing between Kara (who had formerly been a sidekick to Chris Tarrant on Capital) and Lee (who was a comedian). Lee was gently spoken, the comedy was never too much in your face, and this would go down as the best male/female pairing I have heard. Lee and Kara came across on air as true equals, the show was co-presented rather than being a fight for attention between the two, as so many of these shows tend to be. Kara was treated intelligently, and really came across as an entertaining and thoughtful presenter.
Mark & Lard on Radio 1 – late 1990s
This is a show I shouldn’t have liked, but did. Mark & Lard did a lot of clowning around, but in a wonderfully self-deprecating way, and the music was brilliant. It was too good to last, and Radio 1 were not brave enough to stick with them for long enough to see if it would really work. They moved to the afternoons and did essentially the same show, and I listened when I could.
Gareth O’Callaghan on 4fm (Ireland) – 2009
As I have got older, my tastes have evolved, and I have found myself listening to pure speech much more in the mornings, but Gareth O’Callaghan has lured me back into the music breakfast. 4fm has a very strong playlist for anyone of my generation, delving much more deeply into the back catalogue of 60s, 70s 80s than most stations, and combine this with a fair dose of intelligent speech. The music/interview ratio is just perfect for me, and the interviews are medium to heavyweight issues rather than trivia.
Gareth is a great presenter, warm and natural, friendly without being intrusive. His newsreader, Cathy Creegan is incorporated well into the body of the show, and the interaction between the two is adult and entertaining. They come across as two people who actually like each other, rather than just being forced to work together.
A great show, and long may it continue.