Forget Radio 2: In five years' time, we'll all be going Smoooth

Former BBC DJ Mark Goodier tells Matthew Bell why BBC executives have reason to fear

It says something about the plurality of British radio that the most listened-to station, Radio 2, has never had a commercial competitor.

More than 13 million listeners tune in to its reassuring blend of easy listening and chatter in part because, at a national level, there's no similar proposition. But all that is about to change.

Since the passing this summer of the Digital Economy Bill, which relaxed the competition rules for local radio, the BBC has lost its middle-of-the-road monopoly. Tomorrow, the first of several potential threats to Radio 2's supremacy will emerge: the newly national Smooth Radio, the middle-brow station that, until now, has served six disparate regions. If BBC executives are nervous, that's because they're supposed to be.

"There should be competition, and we're going to make sure the BBC gets some," says a bullish Mark Goodier, one of several former BBC DJs signed up to Smooth. "It might take several years but I think the landscape is going to look very different."

Goodier, 49, will host the 10am to 1pm weekday slot and in many ways is the embodiment of Smooth: polished and safe, he is the least likely source of controversy. For anyone who listened to Radio 1 in the 1990s, his voice will forever be synonymous with the Sunday night charts. But despite forging a reputation as a safe pop DJ, Goodier does not want to be too closely associated with "easy listening".

"I want Smooth to be enjoyable to listen to, and not stressful. It should be a station you want to have on all day without having to change. That's not to say it should be bland and boring." A typical playlist will include a mix of old favourites from Stevie Wonder and Elton John to newer artists such as Paloma Faith and Nell Bryden.

Given his own style of presenting, it's perhaps surprising to hear Goodier defend loud-mouths like Radio 1's Chris Moyles. "It's easy to knock them but every youth-orientated station wants a presenter like Moyles," he says, "There are only a few in the world of these kind of broadcasters, and I'm not one of them Moyles is a proper communicator. He's a unique talent."

This is the businessman in Goodier speaking. Since 1997 he has owned and run the production company Wise Buddah – a play on the beer brand Budweiser – and he clearly knows what makes good radio. He believes Moyles was justified in dedicating half an hour of a recent breakfast show to complaining about not being paid. "The audience relates to it," he says, "They have had it happen to them, or they know someone who has, and these kinds of DJ, like Moyles and like Chris Evans used to be, can get away with it. The easy option would be to take offence and fire him, but Andy Parfitt [the controller of Radio 1] will not be bothered – it's the most economical marketing Radio 1 have had."

Goodier left Radio 1 after 15 years in 2002, and hints that a golden age of creative freedom at the BBC has passed. One of the highlights of his early career was the creation of the Evening Session, Radio 1's ground-breaking 1990s show which launched the careers of many unknown acts. It later became the baby of Steve Lamacq, another DJ now produced by Goodier. But the post-Sachsgate BBC is, he agrees, an altogether different place.

"The BBC had confidence in those days," he says, "You could permit Tim Westwood to have all his expletives, but you just can't do it now. It's catastrophic that these media storms, which mean nothing, can have this knock-on effect." But Goodier argues that, despite the storms, the BBC will always be able to take more risks than commercial rivals. "Commercial radio has been very much more strictly censured by Ofcom for far longer than the BBC ever has. The BBC has now come under this intense scrutiny, but for years commercial stations have been being fined tens of thousands of pounds for minor transgressions.

"It would be nice to think that once you're out of the BBC you can be more free but I think it's always harder on the commercial boys. Because when a commercial station gets a fine it goes straight to the bottom line, you don't pay it out of the licence fee."

Goodier was inspired to go into radio aged 11 after listening to John Peel and Johnny Walker, and speaks with palpable pride that his company now produces Walker's show.

On every subject we discuss, Goodier gives a perfectly neutral answer: it's a smooth performance. But does he not ever feel trapped in the middle of the road? "When I was on the Evening Session it was good to be the first to play a new record by the Happy Mondays or Nirvana. But I can still get excited about stuff Smooth doesn't play. We're not for kids. But you get to my age and there are other ways to define yourself as a broadcaster."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Social Media Account Writers

£12000 - £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This social media management pr...

Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor (Magazine Publishing) - Wimbledon - £23-26K

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Deputy Editor - Wimbledon...

Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publishing) - Wimbledon - £26-30K

£26000 - £30000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Editor (Magazines/Publish...

Ashdown Group: Print Designer - High Wycombe - Permanent £28K

£25000 - £28000 per annum + 24 days holiday, bonus, etc.: Ashdown Group: Print...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference