“Wall-to-wall Eternal and M-peg2 Mpeggy sounding audio – and things crashing all the time,” is how launch presenter/programmer Keri Jones described the birth of Mix 96 to me. How’s it doing 20 years on?

Listened In is 2ZY’s regular air-check blog, where we listen to a random twenty minute sample of a station or programme in the news

A furry, some people, a cake and is that a bouncy castle? My kind of part-ay.

A furry, some people, a cake and a bouncy castle. My kind of part-ay.

WHO   Darren & Katy and Breakfast

WHAT   Mix 96

WHEN   Wednesday 16 April, 0745

We’re mid-link with a bit of pedestrian show-prep-lite about a top ten of facial hair. 

Darren: “Leonardo de Caprio is in at number 8 so he’s got the goatee with the sideburns.” Katy: “Hmm, cleaner, cleaner.” “Yeah, you like that?” “Hmm.” “In at 7, Gary Barlow’s beard.” “Ah, you see, you know that beard is clean. You know he’s got some kind of nice product that he’s washing his beard with, yep I, yeah, I like a Gary Barlow beard, yep.” “It’s quite short isn’t it as well?” “Yeah. It’s neat but it’s rugged but it’s oooh, yeah.” “Colin Farrell also makes the list, now he’s a man who’s never, ever seen without that ‘tache and that soul patch. It’s always there, isn’t it, he never ever loses that. He’s a smart, good looking chap, isn’t he?” “Yeah, he’s alright.” “In 3, Ben Affleck, at 2, George Clooney, the man who has been blamed a decline in sales of razor blades.” “Wow, well I think we should celebrate -“ Darren interrupts. “Look at that, that’s a full-on beard, he’s got that grey beard going on.” “But he’s a silver fox, so that’s acceptable.” “But at number 1, I’ve just shown you it haven’t I?” “I think I might have seen it out the corner of my eye, is it Mr Brad P?” “How do George Clooney and Brad Pitt still manage to top the any poll? Doesn’t matter what poll it is.” “Doesn’t matter!” “They, you know -“ Now Katy interrupts. “They just need to breathe.” “They do. I don’t even understand it. Brad Pitt’s beard is rubbish. Look at it.” “And I have to say, he’s the exception to the rule. Even when he plays a role where he clearly hasn’t washed, you know, for maybe seven years, err, he essentially always looks good.” “And he has the most desirable beard, according to a report, there’s men walking into – I don’t know where you get a beard transplant, into certain clinics and saying yeah make my face look like Brad Pitt. Really? Still? Is there no-one new, there’s no-one new that’s gonna top that list and knock Brad and George off the top spot?” “While Brad’s around, no other guys need to be in town.” “Almost ten minutes to eight o’clock, stand by for the Mix 96 £1000 minute questions in advance and the latest travel news next.”

PROMO: The Soundcheck Springclean puts you in control of the music we play. Sign-up.

ADS: Perrys / Army Apprenticeships / Blenheim Palace (Watch the delivery of ‘Egg Hunt’ in scripts, everyone!) / McCoys Fish and Chips / London Designer Outlet / Radley Windows and Doors / Perrys

TRAVEL: “Not too much to shout about on the roads.” One route out of Tring mentioned and a plug for Jamline phone number.

ID: (sung) Darren and Katy at Breakfast – Mix 96

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) / Eurythmics

Back announce “at Mix 96, Bucks best mix of music.” Darren’s got his show prep out again. “16th of April, the day after our birthday – today it’s the birthday of the Video Cassette Recorder, so happy birthday to that, not that many people are using those any more but if you were to log onto YouTube this morning, they’ve had some fun with it, they’ve added VHS mode to some of the videos. So when you click on it to play your video, you hit the VHS tape icon, it changes it into a video tape.” “If we want to watch it back, do we have to just sit and wait for it to rewind. I love that, what a time-waster, brilliant.” Hush a minute with your gag Katy, Darren’s not finished the whole script yet. “ … enabling filters to add a nostalgic static and fuzz effect to the footage of your videos.” “Ahhh.” “Nice way to celebrate the birthday of the video cassette recorder, not that that’s stuck around too well. Right, we continue this morning with more of those stories you’re waking up to, plus more chances to be a winner. The return of the Mix 96 thousand-pound minute with a car to go, used cars Aston Clinton, pay less and get more and as always Katy’s got a couple of questions and a clue in advance.”

“What kind of creature is a budgerigar? A gherkin is a variety of what salad ingredient? And here is your clue.” (Clip of Happy Days theme).

“And we’ll play the game at 8.15 this morning.”

ADS: Perrys (ACTUALLY includes one voiceover getting more distant and the other saying ‘sounds like he’s off to Perrys’ / Lily Pot Forest / Environmental Gas Care (‘Are you a professional gas fitter?’ is the first line. Errr, no. And nice work getting the phrase ‘Environmental Gas Care’ sung) / Aylesbury Bullion / Wild Eye Photos Pop Up Gallery / London Designer Outlet / Lucas Furniture

ID: “And a very good morning, welcome along to the show. Wednesday breakfast with Darren and Katy. The Mix 96 thousand-pound minute to come, plus Small Talk is back with the children of Ickford Combined school and that follows music from James Blunt next. (some beeps.) Right now, Mix 96 news at 8, here’s Chris Maskrey.”

NEWS: Korean Ferry / Wycombe A&E row / Preferred primary places / Tesco profits fall / Leighton Buzzard mugging / Miley Cyrus ill / Local dog phones 999 / Sport inc local football results / Weather “Mix 96, home of the Easter egg appeal, I’m Chris Maskrey”

AD: Halfords

TRAVEL: “It’s lovely and sunny and lovely and quiet on the roads out and about in Buckinghamshire.” Not even a token road mention this time. And another plug for the Jamline number.

AD: Haribo

ID: Darren & Katy at Breakfast (sung into bed): “Morning!,” opens Darren. “Morning!,” counters Katy. It’s her only word in this bit. “Hello!,” from Darren. “Welcome along to the show, Wednesday 16th of April it’s Darren and Katy here with all of the usual in the course of the next twenty minutes. You know you could be £1000 richer, right, with the return of the Mix 96 thousand-pound minute. That’s to come, we’ve got Small Talk up next and James Blunt’s Bonfire Heart.

ID Tag: Mix 96

Bonfire Heart / James Blunt


The news and sport bulletin has four local stories, the lead with a strong quality clip. Chris is growly and newsy sounding. Katy, when she’s allowed on, sounds fun.

But there’s an in-authenticity in some of the links though. Are the beard and YouTube bits content that the good denizens of Aylesbury could only wake up to on Mix 96? There’s no crime in using show-prep – but surely you have to make it your own. Is Darren REALLY so outraged at George Clooney? And that particular link could have been amputated at Katy’s “they just need to breathe,” which is at least an average punchline, and would have saved another minute of so of everyone’s lives.

Traffic seems a bit thin. Do people in Aylesbury not commute? Two songs in twenty minutes seems a bit light, especially when tightening both loonnnnngggg links could have made room for another.

So tighten this all up, own the prep (or better, prep your own stuff) – and you could always take a lead from Mix 96’s original Station Presentation Guide from back in April 1994: “Say something local every link. Every link on MIX 96 will feature a local reference, without exception. If you plan your links, it’s easy to do.”

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