Written by Radio

All Change At Radio 2

So the news that we all sort-of knew was going to happen anyway, has come to pass. Following a “BBC insider” having a chat with the Mail on Sunday over the weekend, El Tel has announced to his listeners that – yes – it is true. He’ll soon be departing his weekday breakfast show, and will be replaced by Chris Evans who currently presents drivetime.
That leaves drive on Radio 2 free, and although at time of writing nothing’s been confirmed, Mayo has been on Twitter: “You really would think I would have had the common decency to tell you what’s happening wouldn’t you?”
I think we can be reasonably sure that he’ll take the drivetime show. He doesn’t want to move to Salford where all the main 5 Live presenters will be required to broadcast from (seemingly) in a year or two’s time. This, then, is the obvious move.
From my personal listening perspective, I’ll be thoroughly disappointed by this. Mayo is a fine broadcaster – one of the best in the country really. And speech radio really works for him. He can move effortlessly between politics, breaking news (he was on-air for the September 11 attacks – I know as I was listening during a car journey), entertainment and books.
Indeed I’d suggest that his show is one of the best in any medium for an author to get on to promote a new book.
While I don’t doubt that many of these features will follow through to Radio 2, it’s a music station, and unless it takes a fantastically different path, then Mayo will do less talking, have fewer guests and will play more records. My “Daily Mayo” podcast won’t be the same.
Of course there will be someone replacing Mayo, and while stalwarts of the station like Phil Williams and Richard Bacon have sat in for Mayo, perhaps the smart money should be on Mark Radcliffe?
But back to breakfast. How will a Terry Wogan audience adapt to Chris Evans? Wogan’s audience of very nearly 8m comes from just 7.30 to 9.30 (compared with say, Moyles’ 3.5 hours).
Evans, meanwhile has 5.4m listeners between 17.00 and 19.00. But the average age of his audience is a little younger at 49 compared with 53 for Wogan. Averages are fine, but they don’t tell the whole story. Wogan currently gets 46.5% of his listeners from the 55+ age group, but interestingly 53.0% of the listening that he gets is from this age goup.
In other words, Wogan’s older audience listens longer.
Compare that with Evans. 34.1% of his audience is aged 55+, but they account for just 33.8% of all listening.
In other words Evans has fewer older listeners who listen for shorter time periods.
Wogan is 71 and Evans is 43.
This means that when Evans starts on breakfast in January 2010:
– Older listeners will desert Evans who’s not to their taste
– Younger listeners will start listening to Evans (possibly coming from Radio 1 or even commercial radio)
– Both of the above
Media commentator Ray Snoddy suggested on Twitter that “Replacing Wogan with Chris Evans must be part of a very cunning plan to give commercial radio a break. Beeb not going for ratings any more.”
But I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as all that. While Radio 2 might lose listeners as older ones stop listening, they’re unlikely to drift towards any commercial services; there just aren’t any that really target 55+ – Smooth, Classic FM or LBC being perhaps, the exceptions.
And some commercial stations will surely lose out as younger listeners perhaps start listening to Evans again (This will probably Richard Park even angrier. He wants to roll Jamie and Harriet out across the Heart network but isn’t allowed to. I’m not sure where that says to all the current Heart local breakfast DJs…).
One thing is clear from all of this: Chris Moyles’ celebrations about being the longest running Radio 1 breakfast show host are being somewhat overshadowed!
As ever, these are my person views, and do not represent those of my employer.