Chris Moyles, Radio X: A woman may be running the show but men still call the tune

Moyles had something to get off his chest as he returned to the airwaves

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The Independent Culture

It was, it must be said, a confusing start for Radio X, the revamped, rebranded, all-new XFM. The breakfast show heralded the return of Chris Moyles, the former Radio 1 presenter whose divisively gobby style earned him eight million listeners at his peak before he was replaced by Nick Grimshaw.

Moyles' first on-air utterance in three years – "Hello again, Great Britain. This is a bit weird isn't it?" – was suitably chilled, and it seemed like all would go swimmingly. But Moyles, it transpired, had something to get off his chest.

"There was a quote saying that Radio X is going to be the UK's first male-focused radio station and many people took that to mean it's a radio station just for blokes, by ruddy blokes, playing ruddy bloke-music for more ruddy blokes," he said. "I'll tell you now, this is news to me....

"Let me be the first of many Radio X DJs to say this.... That's a load of balls."

This might appear to be good news to those ovary-owning listeners seemingly marginalised by a statement issued over a fortnight ago that said it was to be a "male-focused" station.

"It was just a marketing thing, and should not have gone out in the press release," said our host and, for a moment, I thought: "Really? You mean our ears are required after all? Put down your placards, ladies. It was all a terrible misunderstanding."

 

But then I looked again at the schedule, which in its first 12 hours had eight male presenters – among them Vernon Kaye, Johnny Vaughan and Dan O'Connell – and just one woman, Hattie Pearson. Pearson, it turns out, broadcasts from 1am to 4am daily, when most of the proposed Radio X audience is guaranteed to be unconscious. It's not exactly the plum job.

Then it occurred to me that if women are indeed a welcome part of the audience, and if the whole "male-focused" thing was just a PR cock-up, then this testosterone-heavy line-up must be Radio X's idea of balance. Three hours of a female voice against 21 hours of non-stop male "banter" is, to their mind, entirely inclusive. Crikey.

There was also the glibness with which Moyles – a man who, admittedly, isn't know for his caring, sharing nature – kept going back to this apparently mad notion that the station doesn't care about women. "Running the show will be A WOMAN," he bellowed, introducing his producer, Pippa Taylor. "We've not been on more than four minutes and we've got A WOMAN. WHOOOARRRR!"

There was also a jingle that told us how much the station loves women – "We love your make-up and we love your high heels" – an attempt at irony that would have been quite sweet had there been any concrete evidence that it were true. And there was the fact that the first record played was Girls Aloud's "Love Machine", which again might have been a positive statement had it not been followed, with a few exceptions, by studiously unimaginative meat-and-potatoes rock.

Employing Moyles certainly isn't Radio X's worst move – the "Calm down, dear"-style quips aside, he was, in this first outing, a slightly calmer presence than of yore.

No, the worst move has been its ham-fisted attempts to position itself as a contemporary station by taking radio back 20 years. "Male-focused" or not, giving the big jobs to the boys in 2015 isn't a good look. If gender really isn't an issue, as Moyles claims, then they need to put their money where their mouth is and get some women on board.

Twitter.com/FionaSturges

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