Connor Coates on Blast 106

July 15th, 2014

It’s the station that took Ofcom to court – and won! The regulator listened for three days and found little evidence of the promised “key commitments to provide local student news and politics, promote debate and discussion, produce documentaries and include a varied music output,” and decided not to renew its licence. That decision was overturned in the High Court. We listened for 20 minutes. 

WHAT   Belfast’s Blast 106.4

WHO   Connor Coates

WHEN   Tuesday 15 July, 1411

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.

Blast logo

Lay Me Down/Avicci

ID: Blast 106

Summer/Calvin Harris

ID: (indecipherable) frequency – Blast 106

Dangerous Love/Fuse ODG ft Sean Paul

“Belfast’s Blast 106. Fuse ODG Sean Paul and that is Dangerous Love playing here on Belfast’s Most Music Station. 20 minutes after 2. Conor Coates with you today until 4 o’clock. Just came across a really, really nice story here on the internet now you girls yous are going to love this. A man has trekked across the Egyptian desert to claim a small piece of land in an attempt to fulfil his daughter’s wish to become a princess. How nice is this? He lives in Virginia. His daughter says she wanted him she wanted to become a princess and he thought he’d be good be his promise he made his seven year old daughter. While playing one day she stopped and posed and asked the question to her Dad, will I ever be a real princess? And he’s made it come true? How nice is that? I’m sure your Dads didn’t do that for you. My Dad certainly wouldn’t have trekked across the Egyptian desert and I also didn’t want to be princess either, so it doesn’t really matter, does it? On the way gonna be doing some Sigma, got some Kove and some Sam Smith in there for you as well and it all plays next.”

AD: Party Piglets/Washington Bar/Mikey’s New York Deli/Blast ID/Exclusive Designs Furniture/RAB/McCraggan’s Club

ID: This Frequency Is … Blast 106

Ridin’ Solo/Jason Derulo

ID: This is Belfast’s Blast 106

Nobody to Love/Sigma

ID: Are you ready for this? Blast 106

Way We Are/Kove


“We pride ourselves on being focused on students,” says the website. No evidence of that from this 20 minute listen, unless you want to hire a boozy limo from Party Piglets.

There’s a busy break, and the music’s ok  – but the one link in 20 minutes is a join-the-dots internet read with no relevance. Or punch line.

And why do so many jocks on so many stations persist in telling me when they’re going off?! “With you until 4 ..” Yeah, make it sound like you’re counting the minutes.

So let’s hear it for Blast’s solicitors. Is this a first? A radio regulator not renewing, then being forced to reconsider? DevonAir, and a former incarnation of LBC may have chuntered about judicial review but both ended up off air. But reading between the lines, it looks like Blast really has to meet those heavyweight licence commitments if it’s going to last another five years.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Dave and Andy on Surrey Hills Radio

June 25th, 2014

Launched by drag queens and newscasters, Surrey Hills Radio is the latest community-internet hybrid station to launch. We listened in.

WHO   Dave and Andy

WHAT   Surrey Hills Community Radio

WHEN   0800, Wednesday 25 June

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.


ID: You’re listening to Dave and Andy on the Breakfast Show from Surrey Hills Radio

“Hello you’re listening to Dave and Andy. We’re gonna kick off with Aztec Camera”

Good Morning Britain/Aztec Camera

Andy back announces the song. “Well here we are again. It’s Wednesday. It is Wednesday isn’t it?” “Banter” about how it should be Friday. “That’s Aztec Camera, fast becoming our theme tune which is appropriate. They had two big hits Good Morning Britain and Somewhere in My Heart.” Dave’s not convinced. “I don’t like them, they’re boring. What about Fantastic Day or Mr Blue Sky as it’s such a beautiful morning?” Rambling about Dave’s late night. Andy was in bed before ten. “Anyway let’s start off with a birthday. Harold Melvin, sadly not with us any more, born this day in 1939. Remember him with his Blue Notes?” “Bit before my time, mate,” says Andy.”Think I heard this in a supermarket once.”

Don’t Leave Me This Way/Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes.

“OK, Don’t Leave me This Way, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, with the original – also covered by The Communards in 1986 for all those people thinking ‘who did that?’ “It’s like Dire Straits,” suggests Dave. “It builds up to a crescendo.” “Sounds like supermarket music at the start,” though, thinks Andy. They talk about how there were lots of different Bluenotes. “Never used to happen in the 60s  .. Cliff Richard and Shadows, Brian Pool and Tremeloes.” They talk about Hank Marvin too and how his PR woman was on air with them a while back. “We’ll take the birthdays and throughout the next 15 mins.”

“Don’t forget our guest talking about her book launch.” I couldn’t make out through the over-talking the name of the book, but I think it’s about cycling in France. “It won’t be a recorded interview, it will be live.” “Her event will be on Friday. When’s it on? Can’t read it. It’s in Reigate anyway.” Eventually they remember her name and say she’ll be on later.

“Yesterday, we had a special guest David Munro, the chairman of Surrey County Council, which we’ll air on Friday.” There’s some chat about presenter Dave leaving a tap running and needing to leave the studio before the station floods. “Eddie Floyd born this day in 1937 and still with us. Interesting .. funny when I say interesting, as it’s usually really boring. Some people say he was born in 1935,” he says before he goes.

ID: Wake Up in the Morning with Dave and Andy

Knock on Wood/Eddie Floyd

The Power of Love/Huey Lewis


In a cardboard box at home, I have a cassette. The 17 year old me wrote XMAS EVE RADIO FRIMLEY PARK 1985 on it. I think that’s the oldest surviving bit of me on the ‘radio’, if you can call a closed-circuit system through clapped out, earwaxy headphones, radio. My point being, when I was getting into this business, my (probably appalling) efforts were only available to you to hear if you were unfortunate enough to be admitted to hospital. 29 years later, everyone can hear everything. I’ve written before about community radio – and the balance of audience service vs volunteer enrichment. And now spectrum’s becoming scarce, and the gear needed to get “on air” continues to fall in price, we’re seeing a spattering of local, internet-delivered ‘community’ stations.

Surrey Hills Radio is one of these. Based in the East Surrey centre of deprivation that is Leatherhead, and billed as ‘a great new service to showcase all that is great in Surrey by the people who live there’, it was officially opened by newscaster Nicholas Owen on 6 June. Dave and Andy run the station. Andy told the local paper, “”We are both novices so anything could happen. That’s the beauty of community radio – it won’t be as polished as some of the big stations but it will be real, relevant and presented by regular locals.”

Certainly on this 20 minute listen, there’s evidence of an attempt at content – the council guy, the book woman – even if it’s not exactly being sold to the listener very effectively. I wonder though how many generations more we have to endure those tired old things we all did when we started (thinking back to that 1985 cassette!) Are they a necessary part of the process, the caterpillar before the butterfly?

Stations like this one have done the easy stuff – premises, kit, launch party cupcakes. Delivering on their promise of relevant, local, popular content, week in, week out …? That’s the tough bit. (Oh, and Aztec Camera had 6 top 40 songs, by the way.)

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Martin Ingram on Original 106 Aberdeen

June 3rd, 2014

Original 106 in Aberdeen ascribed their audience increases to giving cars away this week. John Myers wasn’t convinced. We listened in to the last outpost of the Original brand.

WHO   Martin Ingram

WHAT   Original 106 Aberdeen

WHEN   3 June 1303

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.



Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 13.37.48


Once in a Lifetime/Talking Heads

ID (Sweeper): Great Songs, Big Prizes, Win a Car from Lawrence of Kenny – Original 106

All the Young Dudes/Mott the Hoople

Back Anno. Swerves a One Direction request for Erin and Megan with a gag. “We were talking earlier on today about the song Waiting for a Star to Fall and was it in a movie, was it not in a movie? Neil G says ‘wasn’t it not in Three Men and a Baby or even Three Men and a Little Lady.’ I think it was on Three Men and a Baby. I always remember that film for being the one with a ghost in one of the frames.” (vocal hits). “Yeah.”

Drops of Jupiter/Train

“Callum’s been on saying Hey Martin, Congratulations for side-stepping that One Direction request. Good Work!”

Music Auto Hook Promo: Toto/Hold the Line & Republica/Ready to Go

Martin talks over. “Thank You Callum. Thought I’d got away with it. Music from Toto on the way. And Republica, Ready to Go. And, well, a whole bunch more besides.”

ID: Lunchtime with ITC Hydraulic Services Limited.

ADS: Paypal Here/ASDA/Dreams Store/SYOP/Green Lady Restaurant/Thistle Windows/Sports Promo with ‘ATR Marine Solutions – servicing the global energy sector with certified marine safety equipment’

ID: (sung) Original 106 (tag) Lunchtime with ITC Hydraulic Services Limited. Supporting the offshore, sub-sea and agricultural sectors.

Hand in My Pocket/Alanis Morissette

Hold the Line/Toto



“You might have seen that one being performed on BBC4 editions of Top of the Pops from 1979 recently. I never really realised that the members of Toto were kind of bloaty looking guys .. like it matters about the music. And Hold the Line from Toto is a fine, fine tune. Right stay there, more fine tunes coming up. And it’ll be Tom Petty, Freefalling on the way in just two minutes.”



Would you change your listening habits on the vague chance of obtaining a Ford Fiesta? Here’s twenty minutes of perfectly serviceable Jack-alike radio. The music’s right, Martin’s friendly and laid-back – if as bloaty as Toto in one link. In a world where the answer to numbing trivia like which film Waiting for a Star to Fall was in is about two clicks away on the phone in your pocket, is it really still strong link fodder? At the very least put us out of our misery and tell us definitively. With some kind of punchline into the vocal.

And the much-debated car competition is only on air in ‘The Full Scottish Breakfast” and “The Home Run” (What IS it with these 1982 programme names?!) so is it really responsible for longer hours and higher reach?

Reach graph from Media

Reach graph from Media


Surely it’s much more likely that more listeners, listening longer has been achieved on well-programmed music – I’m guessing by Martin, as he’s the PC –  and locally relevant content?

Meanwhile, Listened In’s campaign for elegantly written S&P continues. Two unusual business-to-business clients in this segment. But do real people, even those in the oil business, talk about ‘sectors’?!

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Absolute Radio – Genre Station Song Splits at Breakfast

May 21st, 2014

So James has told you how they do it. But what does it sound like? We listen in to Absolute Radio’s game-changing genre song splits at Breakfast.

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.

Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 08.02.57

WHAT  The Christian O’Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio, Absolute 60s, Absolute 70s, Absolute 80s, Absolute 90s, Absolute 00s and Absolute Classic Rock

WHEN  Wednesday 21 May 2014

This is NOT a review of Christian, more of the difference this playlist innovation makes. But there’s no doubting from this 20 minutes that he’s at the top of his game. There’s pace, audience connection, laugh-out-loud moments. When someone lives the brand as well as he does, there’s no wonder the station wanted to sort the ‘Kaiser Chiefs on Absolute 80s’ issue.


Content: Listener interaction


ADS: Mercedes Approved Used

Speed Link

ID: The Christian O Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio built by Wickes

ADS: British Gas/Absolute Radio Account (the song used to illustrate that you’ll hear more music and fewer ads on Absolute Radio was Eurythmics/You Have Placed Chill on my Heart)/Internet Matters/Mercedes Vans/Money Supermarket/Let’s Rock Southampton/New Songs on Absolute Radio (James, Paul Weller, Coldplay, Kaiser Chiefs)

ID: Absolute Radio IS the COC Breakfast Show


AR:  Going Underground/The Jam

60:  Uptight (Everything’s Alright)/Stevie Wonder

70:  I Want You Back/Jacksons

80:  Living in a Box/Living in a Box

90:  The Bartender and the Thief/Stereophonics

00:  The Bucket/Kings of Leon

CR:  I Won’t Back Down/Tom Perry

Great to see a brilliant presenter so engaged in a brilliant technical innovation.

Great to see a brilliant presenter so engaged in a brilliant technical innovation.

Content: ‘Chloe the Claw’ game setup

0731 ID: This is Absolute (Station Name)

News, Sport & Weather

ID: Absolute (Station Name) The COC Breakfast Show (Genre) Music (Station Name)



AB:  Molly’s Chambers/Kings of Leon

60:  For Your Love/Yardbirds

70:  Hanging on the Telephone/Blondie

80:  Start/The Jam

90:  What’s My Age Again?/Blink 182

00:  What’s My Age Again?/Blink 182

CR:  Don’t Believe a Word/Thin Lizzy


Content: Chloe the Claw lines open


ADS: VW commercial vehicles

Speed link

ID: The Christian O Connell Breakfast Show on Absolute Radio built by Wickes

ADS: McDonalds Breakfast/Chad Valley Aeroplane/Absolute Radio Account (I’m into Something Good – Hermans Hermits on 60s)/European Parliament/Ford/Promo: Soul Time on AR60s.


AB:  Sunday Girl/Blondie

60:  Wonderful World, Beautiful People/Jimmy Cliff

70:  2468 Motorway/Tom Robinson Band

80:  You Spin Me Round/Dead or Alive

90:  Female of the Species/Space

00:  Steal My Sunshine/Len

CR:  Foxy Lady/Jimi Hendrix


If you love clunkiness, you’ll hate this. It took them a while to do, but Absolute have nailed it, for the greater good of radio. Parking each station’s raison d’être during peak listening always felt wrong – if understandable given you’d want Christian on all your stations. Now you get the best of both worlds.

Even when I thought I’d spotted a bug, I looked up the Blink 182 song, and it was released in November 1999, so charted in both decades. Sneaky. And when I heard Living in a Box, I thought “True radio crime if they fade this …” They didn’t. Christian was as tight off the back as he’d have been off vinyl in 1987.

The dinosaurs may argue that radio is about shared-experience – and here, you’re not sharing a single experience. True, but the key (live) bit is the stuff around the music, not the music.  Even music endorsement looks possible, from the tweets shared above. And although this isn’t true personalisation – yet – it’s another step along that path. Once again, the team at Golden Square are proving they’re the ones who really understand the space where the tech of radio, present and future, meets.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Good Morning Britain on ITV

April 29th, 2014

The beekeeper in the BBC Breakfast broom cupboard maybe bricking it at the prospect of a smart new competitor – but should radio worry about the Famous-ish Four? There’s a lot of radio thinking – and radio-experienced people – going on in the new Good Morning Britain, so we Listened (Watched?) In.

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.

WHAT Good Morning Britain on ITV

WHEN 7.52, Tuesday 29 April 2014

WHO Susanna Reid (Radio Bristol, 5 live), Ben Shepherd (Heat, Magic), Charlotte Hawkins (LBC) and Sean Fletcher (Radio Wales, 5 live)

When the music stops ..

When the music stops ..

Comes off break with sweeping shot across studio against Robbie Williams/Go Gentle.

Susanna and Charlotte are on sofa with Richard Arnold (LBC, Liberty) to talk showbiz. Leads on Robbie and Ayda’s new baby. Then Gordon Ramsey’s new hair at Victoria Beckham’s 40th party in London. “But someone who never has a bad hair day, Zac Efron (groan) .. what’s happening with him at the moment?” Clip of Bad Neighbours and junket interview between Richard and Zac. Zac’s charisma seems inversely proportional to his beauty. The most journalistic we get is “You’ve been very honest about the fact your own party days are sorely behind you, how’s that going?” And on whether he’s on the market at the moment, “I’m not investing.”

Susanna rounds off with a tease line that Patrick Kielty’s on after 8. The interesting thing if you couldn’t care less about Robbie’s swimmers or Ramsey’s fringe, during the above 5 minutes, the news ticker showed the following top stories: Teacher Stabbing Boy in Custody. 26 Dead in US Storms. Clifford to be sentenced on Friday. Ukraine violence continues. Cancer Survival rates announced. Robbie announces pregnancy. Cancer hero fundraising total hits £3m. Arsenal could get Champions League place.

The weather strap, showing percentage chance of rain, temperature and a simple weather symbol, cycled through a staggering 66 different locations in those 5 minutes alone.

ID: Good Morning Britain, then a pre-recorded Ben Shepherd slightly clunkily introducing the local reader.

Here in Granada-land, that’s Sarah Rogers (Twitter-handled on her Aston, and ex Radio Wave, Key 103, Real and Smooth.) She rattles through Saddleworth Reservoir Murder, Hillsborough Inquest, Wigan Toddler drowning, Manchester City breached UEFA Fair Play rules, M60 closure, Local Weather sponsor tag and “Alex with the Local Weather.” “But for now it’s back over to Good Morning Britain.” – as opposed to whatever we’ve been watching the last two minutes?

Top of Hour: Ann Maguire, Tornados, Clifford, Robbie (the horny news music dips for a clip of Rock DJ), Kielty on later telling us “why he has a score to settle with Ben”

VO: “Tuesday 29th of April 2014. Live from ITV studios in London. THIS. Is Good Morning Britain,” slightly lost in the sound mix. Cleverly, the sky is lighter than an hour before.

LWT anorak shot

LWT anorak shot

Gorgeous camera sweep through studio lands on the four-shot at the Biggest Desk In The World.

“Good Morning Britain, I’m Ben Shepherd, Good to have you with us this morning. Great news from Robbie this morning, he’s gonna be a Dad for the second time with his missus Ayda, congratulations to both.” “I’m Susanna Reid, congratulations to them both – in just a few minutes, we’re gonna be live in LA to speak to Ross King who was a guest at their wedding.” “I’m Charlotte Hawkins and also this morning, can you imagine not remembering your childhood? We’ll meet the teenager who’s rebuilding her life after a rare brain disease erased almost all of her memory.” “And I’m Sean Fletcher. We’ve invited one of Ben’s biggest rivals onto the show this morning. Who can it be? Darth Vader? Hannibal Lecter? We’ll be revealing all very shortly.” “They’ve all got crosses to bear with me,” is all that Ben comes back with. The girls giggle obediently. (Clue: It’s Patrick Kielty. Like you told us about 20 seconds ago.) Suzanne: “First let’s get the check on the weather with Laura, morning Laura.”

Weather with Laura Tobin (Radio Wales). Who looks like she lost Musical Chairs, sanding in an electric pink dress about a foot lower than the stage but still towering above her seated colleagues. They must be some heels.

ID: TOP STORY (whoosh)

Susanna on the teacher killing. Live with correspondent Gamal Fahnbulleh, VT and live with pupil. Charlotte into Cordelia Kretzschmar (CTFM) piece on US storms. ID: BREAKING NEWS: Susanna copy on suspension of flights at East Midlands Airport. Ben two-ways Dr Hilary Jones (Radio 2) on the Cancer survival figures. He’s standing slightly awkwardly at the space desk. Susanna cues VT of Clifford and a clip of the GMB exclusive with a victim, live on the show earlier. Charlotte OOV on Tube Strike Sean OOV on Nile Ranger incident

Ben into live with Ross King (Radio Clyde) on the Robbie story, who cues his own background VT over a Robbie Wiliams instrumental, ending with “Congrats to them both Rob – and Ayda – She’s a great actress too, a lovely strong woman (!) who’s made an incredible difference in Rob’s life so congratulations to them both. Back to you Charlotte and Ben.”

Who are magically on the sofa area. Which thanks to the mock window behind looks like it’s floating on the actual Thames. Into memory loss girl with her Mum on the sofa. Caption is the  subtle GIRL WHO FORGOT HER LIFE.


This is so much busier than Kelly and the choirboy. There’s content here, and a lot of boxes ticked. What a story count. And the radio experience of the turns comes through. These junctions are not too shabby for a second day on air, and they can busk better than most news channels. Strong local opting, a good domestic news agenda – and a campy showbiz update. Yes, it’s newsier but look at the structure and script in that top of hour, all the “good to have you with us this morning”s and mid-paragraph name-checking. Recognise that from any other medium?

John Simons tweeted that a good zoo format needs good role definition – and by implication that it’s not there yet. But there are early signs, particularly with Ben and Susanna.

I stuck around after the designated 20 minutes to see a sodden Andi Peters (Smooth, Heat) doing his cardboard ‘wheel of fortune’ schtick in Saffron Walden – and even he was much improved on Monday’s effort. With a bigger crowd too ..

It’s also a very listenable show. Strange to say with its soaring LWT Tower money shot and the Desk from Outer Space, but the number of voices, pace, gorgeous ‘The Newsroom’ rip off sig tune (is it ACTUALLY Thomas Newman?!) and clever use of music cues make this, well, very radio.

It’s been criticised for looking busy (graphic-tastic) and too like Good Morning America. I’m not convinced that’ll be a deal-breaker for Sharon in Stoke.

There are people who listen to the radio in the morning. And people who watch (or listen) to the telly. All the feverish press has been over the breakfast TV share and whether ITV can claw some back from Breakfast. GMB certainly makes the Salford set, with its inexplicable empty CGI meeting rooms, look poky and the whole pace SLOOOOOOOOOW.

But if I was in an area with B-list breakfast teams, and I wasn’t bothered about music in the morning, Good Morning Britain would be a definite temptation – particularly on a busy news morning.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Darren & Katy at Breakfast on Mix 96

April 16th, 2014

“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.”

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Ollie and Simon in the Morning on the New 96.2 Touch FM

April 2nd, 2014

Another week, another station that sounds like someone knows someone who heard Jack once, told them about it in the pub, and tried to recreate it without getting invoiced by Sparknet.

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.

WHO  Ollie and Simon in the Morning

WHAT  The New 96.2 Touch FM Coventry

WHEN  Wednesday 2 April 2014

Touching. The new Touch FM strap line.

Touching. The new Touch FM strap line.

0816 Ruby/Kaiser Chiefs

One presenter says, “The Kaiser Chiefs on the new 96.2 Touch FM and Ricky Wilson from the Kaiser Chiefs helped us launch this brand new station and he took a selfie, as a lot of people did last week, and you only have a few minutes left if you did. We’ve reposted a pixellated picture of your selfie.” The other laughs. Presenter one again. “That is right. A pixellated picture!” Presenter two comes back. “It was just arduous, an arduous sentence, wasn’t it.” One, “If it’s you, you must call us now, you’ve got a hundred quid just sitting and waiting for you.” Two, “02476 011 711, we’re gonna play one last song and then that’s it, if you don’t call us within those three minutes and twenty-three seconds, the cash goes in our back pocket.”

Kids in America/Kim Wilde

Ollie or Si back annos. “Kim Wilde on the new 96.2 Touch FM. Wednesday morning. Ollie and Si here.” The other one continues “So the big cash selfie then. Every day this week, we’re posting a pixellated image of one of your selfies that you’ve been uploading. You have fifteen minutes if it’s you to call the studio this morning. We have someone on the line, we have April from Coventry, but is she, and is it her selfie? Err, what do you do April?”

April’s studying product design at uni. They have a chat about what she’s working on. There’s a bit of fake laughter going on. One of the whacky ideas April’s come up with is a pair of shoes with lasers in the toe “and if there’s any like object in the way that you don’t want to step in for example like you know something that a dog’s left behind, it lasers it out of the way, just annihilates it”.

They establish it’s definitely April in the pic, and she gets “a hundred quid in your back pocket.” The sequence finishes with “April, congratulations, stay on the line for us.” “OK, will do, thank you.”

ADS: Shell Petrol

TRAVEL: Coventry’s Eyewitness Travel. Get Travel News  when you’re out on the go with our free iPhone app. Download it today from nine six two Touch FM dot co dot uk.  “I’m Jamie Sercomb in the new 96.2 Touch FM travel centre.”

ADS: Quickskip ‘for all your waste management needs’ / Code Angel IT / Caravan Land / The Window Surgeon

Rockin’ All Over the World/Status Quo

“Status Quo, Rocking all over the World, on the new 96.2 Touch FM this morning.” “Well done to the lovely April from Coventry Uni this morning, she spotted her selfie. I can’t believe that someone from Coventry Uni was up before 8 o’clock in the morning.” Recaps mechanic, “and you can win £100 like the lovely April did this morning.”

NEWS: Chile Earthquake / London Midland train Strikes / Water Main at Siskin Drive/Sport

WEATHER: Sky Blue Weather

Scream (Funk My Life Up)/Paulo Nutini


There are no rules in radio, obviously. But if there were, “Double-head male work best if there’s clear blue water between the characters,” would be one … Radcliffe & Maconie, Russ and Jono, Mayo and Kermode. Take two interchangeable same-age voices, both laid-back, cheeky-chappy, nice-enough, then never ident them individually (I’m Ollie, this is Si ..) it’s a struggle to find something tangible to engage with them as a twosome. Boy/Girl double heads maybe more of a cliché, and good luck to Touch for trying something different in the market, but straight away you’ve got delineation between the voices and an easier dynamic to latch onto.

Aside from that, the music works for a Jackalike, although feels older than the banter. News and traffic cover the bases well. Although a travel centre, however new, still makes me think of somewhere I’m going if I want to buy a bus ticket.

But the real issue for me here though is the selfie thing. As a mechanic, it’s Like-bait for Facebook. Maybe there’ll be some talkability around it (although that’s probably proportional to the sum offered, and £100 won’t buy you a lot) but what’s the on-air offer? The pixellation is laughable, so it’s pretty clear that if someone rings in, it’s them. So there’s no jeopardy there. There’s nothing to play along with on the air for a casual listener. The whole thing comes and goes without even any on-air production, tension bed etc. It’s all a bit – whatever.

Oh, and is it just me? Female contributors being described as ‘lovely’ in 2014??

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to

Bob FM Hertfordshire

March 18th, 2014

Two Jacks had a row. One changed his name to Bob. Here’s what happened when we listened in.

WHAT   Bob FM Hertfordshire

WHEN   Monday 17 March, 2043

bob logo

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.

Fall At Your Feet/Crowded House

ID: “Oh .. (withering) – it’s Bob.”

Wuthering Heights/Kate Bush

‘Bobalong’ (What’s On): Graham Mack voiced-up event for Magic of Play appeal at Lister Hospital.

It’s Going Down/Midlake

ID “At Bob we like to wigout big style. And no, that doesn’t mean we wear a toupee.”

All She Wants To Do Is Dance/Don Henley

ID: “Want to advertise on this lovely radio station? Call the sales team for details. Because it costs less than you think.”

ADS: Moss & Hall Engineering, Walton Homes, Marshall’s Volvo, Westcote Care Advisory Services, HRC Degrees, GJW Titmuss Horse Supplies

NEWS IN: Across Hertfordshire on FM, DAB, on your mobile and online this is Bob. FM


Bob FM Weather ‘with the met office’ voiced up. Sponsor tag: Bob FM Weather with North Herts College

ID: “Turn your knob to Bob. It’s as easy as taking candy from a baby. Or 3 points from Man Utd.”

Get It On/T Rex


Well that started OK. The name might have changed but there was nothing new about the music going on here. Crowded House is archetypal Jack. Clever, guitar-y, under-played. Kate Bush was a (nice) surprise, and the kind of shufflesque curve ball the boy-name formats deliver.

Then the wheels fall off. Midlake are a millennial Texan version of Mumford and Sons. Beloved beards of  6Music, but file under ‘trying too hard’ for a Jackalike. You could get away with that if there were bankers either side, but a Don Henley non-hit (a non-hit here anyway?). This was spicier than Mel B wearing Old Spice making a Vindaloo.

Milake, wondering why they're here.

Milake, wondering why they’re here.


Good to hear Graham from Breakfast voicing the Jactivi- Bobalongs. Less impressive were the Jack-like liners. The Manchester United one was a good topical, but the rest were forgettable.

Poor little Hertbeat. Its first name, extinguished when Global came to town, and its second face, forcibly removed by its franchisor. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky for 106.7/9.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to


Kiah and Tara Jean on 96.9 Jack FM Vancouver

March 4th, 2014

As another under-performing beyond-106 station jacks off, we listen in to the station where it all began. 96.9 Jack FM Vancouver.

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.

WHO   Kiah & Tara Jean

WHAT   96.9 Jack FM Vancouver

WHEN   Monday 4 March morningshow-hdr-652-2

Centrefold/J Geils Band

PROMO: Jack’s Employee of the Week

ADS: Remedy (TV)/North Shore Auto Mall/Westminster Savings/Roll Up the Rim To Win (!)/Hunter Douglas Lighting/Outdoor & Travel Show/Skyline Motors/Sears Outlet/The Blacklist (TV)

PROMO: Jack App

AD: Northern Gateway Marine Emergency Response Proposals/Science World Lego Adventure/Home Depot

JACK TRAFFIC: Problems with a rollover crash in Surrey, another rollover accident in West Van on the upper levels, and VC Hydro say it will noon before several neighbourhoods will have power back ‘after an ice storm’ last night.

Kiah reads the weather. Kind of. “More rain this morning, should clear up more by this afternoon, but then still, err, cloudy, chance of showers pretty much for the whole week.”

ID: Chant: No Time to Google VO: No Time To Google (crowd fx) Brought to you by Applewood Kia. It’s all good at Applewood. Visit Applewood Now, here are your hosts. Kiah and Tara Jean. (into cheesey quiz bed that runs through link)

Kiah sets it up. “Morning! We play No Time to Google every morning at 8.30. It’s the rapid-fire trivia battle that’s bound to have questions about the Oscars!” Fake laughter from Tara Jean. A true radio crime. “Hey if you wanna play this morning, you can win $50 to spend at the newly reopened Kings Head Pub in Kits. Call 280 JACK and we’ll play with callers 10 and 11 next.”

Low Rider/Funk

ID: Jack’s Morning Glory with Kiah and Tara Jean – Staunch advocates of the belief that reading the fortune in your cookie should always be followed by the words ‘in bed’.

It Ain’t Over ’til it’s Over/Lenny Kravitz

ID: No Time To Google (same as above) followed by virtually word-for-word the same Kiah intro. “Morning! We play No Time to Google every morning at 8.30. It’s the rapid fire trivia battle that’s bound to have questions about the Academy Awards.”

Tara Jean introduces the contestants. “Michelle is from … for some reason I typed out Michelle is from Michelle! Oh, Monday. Michelle is from Mission. She told us she breeds gerbils just for the fun of it. And Melinda is from Chilliwak. She’s playing this morning from inside the melting igloo her and her kids built over the weekend. Doesn’t sound very safe, Melinda, but say hello you two.”

They say hello.

“You lovely ladies are going head to head in the rapid fire trivia battle called No Time to Google,” continues Kiah. “It’s a best of three. You’ve each got five seconds to answer your respective questions and today the winner gets fifty bucks to spend at the newly opened, newly reopened Kings Head pub in Kits.” “Great.” “Awesome,” say the contestants, seemingly unconvinced.

TJ starts the quiz. “Alright Michelle, you’re first and the clock starts at the end of this question. From Academy Award trivia ladies ..” “You’re kidding,” interrupts Kiah. “Yes!” “Uh-oh,” says Michelle, before answering correctly that Ellen De Generes was the host. Melinda gets hers wrong, thinking Gravity won Best Picture.

Round 2. “Some math trivia ladies. What is 25% of 200?” Michelle stumbles around for the right answer. “25. 100. Sorry, 50! I know what it is.” Melinda correctly answers that 100 divided by 5 is 20.

“Let’s do some geography. What is the second longest river in BC, which runs in part between Terrace and Prince Rupert?” She gets it wrong. “The Queen Charlotte Islands have been renamed what?” Melinda gets it right. Haida Gwaii. “Congratulations,” offers Michelle deadpan. “Awesome. Thank you,” from Melinda. “Melinda, you’ve won fifty bucks to spend at the newly reopened Kings Head pub in Kitts.” “Fantastic. Thank you SO Much.” “Yeah, Have fun when you come in from the wet.” “Oh, yes.”

ID: Jack’s Morning Glory with Kiah and Tara Jean (not Darrow)

“Hey four degrees in Vancouver, and if you love Rod Stewart, you’re gonna love us this week, cos we’re giving away tickets to see Rod Stewart and Santana with a game called Like A Version, we’ll play before nine on Jack.”


The music’s very Jack. There can be no more Jack tune than Centrefold, after all. And even though the fortune cookie line is a weak one, it’s good to see we’re exporting Paul Darrow back to the Canadians. But it was all a bit, safe, measured and – for, Jack, girly. TJ is definitely the lead-presenter here. Clearly Kiah gets top billing, because he’s the man, right?

Jack is the definitive anti-format, so works best when it subverts tired old benchmarks like a (lamely easy) trivia quiz. That sounded pre-recced too.  It’s a format that needs personality and attitude. Lovely ladies? There’s no music ownership, and in twenty minutes they don’t deliver the strap (and even that’s been updated from ‘Playing What We Want’ to the slightly cock-less ‘Playing Whatever. Whenever.’) 

Which is a shame – as TJ is certainly capable of good storytelling. Just before our 20 minute listen began with Centrefold, she told a (slightly wrong for breakfast) tale about swallowing her crown while chewing on some hash browns and having to use her son’s potty ‘to do number twos to fish it out.’

But in this 20 minute segment at least, Jack’s all dressed up like an unconvincing Jackie. Perhaps in its attempts to beat AC competition in the market, it’s all gone a bit ACDC.

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to

Foxy & Giuliano on Free Radio Birmingham

February 19th, 2014

“The station formerly known as BRMB” arrived forty years ago. Free Radio has been celebrating this morning.

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.

WHO   Foxy & Giuliano

WHAT   Free Radio Birmingham

WHEN   19 February 2014, 0737


“Shall we give away a grand? Here we go.” Into the thousand pound minute with Amy from Sutton. “She had Frosties for Breakfast. She’s a physiotherapist and her best friends at work are Harriet and Lisa.” She wishes them Happy 40th birthday. The guys remind her it’s not THEIR birthday, but ‘commercial radio in this fine city,’ obviously an ‘approved phrase’ as they use it verbatim 4 times in this twenty minutes. “You remember Les Ross? He’s the boss! .. He’s on the show an hour from now.”

Amy gets 7/10 questions right (she spells caravan wrong, doesn’t know who directed Reservoir Dogs or which beer is ‘probably the best in the world’.)

Slightly rambly off the back, long goodbye, throw forward to Thousand Pound mechanic tomorrow.

“People starting to text in now with memories of ‘this radio station’ over the last 40 years, we’re celebrating 40 years of commercial radio in this fine city. Morning guys, used to love listening to Les Ross and his daily story Yesterday Never Comes, texts Parky in Knowle. Keep your memories coming in.”

ADS: Renault Clio / ASDA Half Term / Weight Watchers (including voiceover eating. Nice.) / EH Smith Builders Merchants / BMW “It makes you wonder why anyone would pay 309 a month and NOT choose a BMW.” Renault perhaps? / Eastern Airways to Newcastle Cross Promo

“Texts are coming in now. Memories of this radio station after the last 40 years. Because today is our 40th Birthday of commercial radio in this fine city. We were the first. This radio station right here. Of course, we’re now known as Free, but before we were called (comedy sound effect).” “It was a unique name.” “I’ve had to bleep it out. Lisa says was it this radio station that did the 7 o’clock scream .. I dunno, but that sounds like something I would like to do.” “Let’s hope it’s not another radio station ..” “D’you know what, we should read some of these out, cos there’s a lot of memories coming in, we got Les Ross on the show after 8.30.”

AD: Halfords

TRAFFIC: “Birmingham’s most accurate travel on Free Radio with Trust Group UK dot com. See their used car offer online or visit them in Redditch, Stourbridge or Wolverhampton.” M6 South at Spaghetti / Walsall accident / Trains back to normal at Kidderminster.

More Les Ross memories. “I won tickets to go into the cage on Tiswas on Les Ross’s show in April 1976.” They mention the Phantom Flan Flinger. Her husband also won the £10k birthday bonanza in 1998 and they went to New York and blew the lot.

“Imagine Re Tuner man getting together with the Phantom Flan Flinger?” Laughs.

“Alright, who wants Gary Barlow?” “What if I say no?” “I’ll have him!” says Kiara. “Well I’m gonna play a bit of Gary Barlow before 8. Guess the Year from 9, with Les Ross, this song is from the same year as his records as well.”

Common People/Pulp

Back anno. “This record from the same year as the year as the records Les Ross will be playing from 9 cos he’s doing Guess the Year right here on Free Radio.”

Gail is a caller from Smethwick, she has a funny story about staying in a caravan, about putting bread on the roof of your neighbours caravan to make birds peck and pooh on it. (This is part of a running gag as Giuliano has admitted to never staying in a caravan before.)

ADS: Renault Vans / London Midland / McDonalds Breakfast / Go Compare / British Gas / Lego Move / Bristol Street Motors Ford


So the four horsemen of the apocalypse DIDN’T come galloping down the Aston Expressway the moment the four letters that dare not speak their name were unscrewed from Oozells Square. You could call your heritage radio station ‘Giraffe Octopus Cushion’ if you like … if you get the content right, they will come.

And this is a bright, confident, relaxed breakfast show. I’d have liked another song or two maybe. Everything could tighten a bit – there were 56” off Gail’s bird pooh punchline before the song for example – and are most double heads boy-girl for a reason? Easier to cast and differentiate, something for everyone? But clearly here Foxy and Guliano have an authentic off air friendship too.


It’s a difficult tightrope on a morning like this one. Les Ross certainly got more coverage in this twenty minutes than the current incumbents – particularly Kiara, who’s notably absent from imaging, web pics etc. Les, legend though he is, DID leave 96.4 nearly 14 years ago now … despite making Many Happy Returns ever since.

Whether to actually say the words BRMB is a moot point. Can you do both? Luxuriate in unfettered nostalgia but fail to say the name of the station for 38 of those 40 years? Forty sounds so much more worthy of celebrating than nearly two. But hey. Happy Birthday ‘commercial radio in this fine city.’

You can also read 2ZY Listened In as part of Radio Today’s eRADIO newsletter every Wednesday. To subscribe, just go to