Ian Burrell: New face for radio is off to hang out with the dancing dads

 

The mission of every major television controller is to find programmes – such as "Doctor Who", "The X Factor" and "Strictly Come Dancing" – which cross generations and bring families together in a shared living room experience.

It doesn't work that way in radio. That's a medium in which audiences are segregated according to age, with each generation apparently unable to comprehend the musical tastes or on-air banter enjoyed by their parents or their children.

At least that's the philosophy of the popular music stations, which seem determined to rid themselves of their most popular presenters in order to remain cool with the kids. So Chris Moyles, 38, quit the breakfast show at Radio 1 last week and gave way to Nick Grimshaw, who is 11 years his junior. Moyles had spent eight years building an audience of more than 7m but the switch is intended to deliver a "new generation of listeners", says Ben Cooper, the network's controller.

Johnny Vaughan parted company with Capital Radio in November. Like Moyles he had been on the station for eight years and had been successful – hosting the most popular commercial breakfast show in London.

In another era, when radio presenters were only identifiable by voice, Vaughan might have lasted a bit longer at Capital. Chris Tarrant was 57 when he finally quit the network's breakfast show to make way for Vaughan in 2004. But in an era where presenters have to be highly visible – the face of the network – he says he couldn't get away with it. "We have to be honest with each other. You know, I'm a 45-year-old man. I am no longer simply a face for radio," he says, recalling an era when listeners were shocked to see honey-voiced DJs appear "on 'Top of the Pops' and they didn't look like Maurice Gibb – super handsome with big teeth."

Vaughan says: "Now it's much more about your image. Capital sell with TV ads and the fact is that I can't be the 'Face of Hit Music'. It becomes, after a while, like watching your dad dance. I could still dance at a wedding and that's kind of fine. But I wouldn't go clubbing with the kids. And that's what Capital is about."

He has decamped to Absolute Radio, which seeks an older demographic. It's a station that uses the expression "Faces for Radio" to emphasise the authority of its presenters – from Frank Skinner to Ronnie Wood – who have already established themselves as comedians, musicians or television presenters. Vaughan is off to hang out with the dancing dads. "I'm moving to a crowd where your face fits and where it's not so embarrassing to see you rocking out."

The switch to Absolute means that Vaughan will be moving out of breakfast into drive time, with a daily show through the Olympics presented from Hyde Park with Australian co-host Tiffany Cherry. "We will be looking back at what's happened that day and looking forward to what's happening in the night, it's a perfect time really to engage and entertain," he says. "I see it as being the Olympic drive time and I say that because if you put the word Olympic in front of anything you wouldn't normally watch or listen to, suddenly it's engaging. Badminton you don't bother, but Olympic Badminton?"

He is not certain whether it will lead to him becoming a permanent fixture in the Absolute schedule. "If it's enjoyable for them and me then you see what happens don't you?"

Vaughan is reluctant to talk about his time at Capital but then relents. "The thing is I used to really enjoy doing it and I do miss it terribly. I miss having something to go off and do every day and having that feedback from listeners. I'm quite institutionalised and there was an institution there."

Chris Moyles looks set to get an offer of a different challenge at Radio 1. Despite his reputation for laddishness, half his audience is female, and despite pushing 40 he is popular with young listeners. Vaughan too should be able to reach across age barriers.

Radio 1 is required by the BBC's licence to reach an audience of 15-29 year olds. Its median age listener is 30. Many commercial popular stations aim at an overlapping 18-35 demographic, to meet the needs of advertisers. But just as younger listeners no longer have the spare cash to spend on advertised products, so older people are more likely to listen to contemporary pop than generations past.

The 15-29 age rule is becoming increasingly unrealistic. A young generation raised on vast iPod libraries have a breadth of music knowledge that surpasses that of their parents – there's no reason why they wouldn't appreciate the specialist shows on Radio 2 or Absolute.

Meanwhile Steve Barnett, professor of journalism at the University of Westminster, said he accompanied his children to Radio 1's Hackney Weekend festival last month because he wanted to hear the young artists. Older people will listen to Radio 1 because of the music, not the age of the DJ. "It's much more cross-generational than it used to be. To penalise Radio 1 for that is daft."

Arts & Entertainment
William Shakespeare's influence on English culture is still strongly felt today, from his plays on stage to words we use everyday
arts
News
Strange 'quack' noises could be undersea chatter of Minke whales
science
Voices
voices Furore is yet another example of shameful Westminster evasion, says Nigel Farage
Sport
Manchester United manager David Moyes has claimed supporters understand the need to look at
sportScot thanks club staff and fans, but gives no specific mention of players
VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
News
weird news... and film it, obviously
Arts & Entertainment
tv
Sport
sport
News
Matthew Mcnulty and Jessica Brown Findlay in 'Jamaica Inn'
mediaHundreds complain over dialogue levels in period drama
News
peopleJay Z and Beyoncé to buy £5.5m London townhouse
Voices
voicesMoyes' tragedy is one the Deputy PM understands all too well, says Matthew Norman
Arts & Entertainment
Rocker of ages: Chuck Berry
musicWhy do musicians play into old age?
News
Jilly's jewels: gardener Alan Titchmarsh
peopleCountry Life magazine's list of 'gallant' public figures throws light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Sport
John Terry goes down injured in the 70th minute
sportAtletico Madrid 0 Chelsea 0: Blues can finish the job at Stamford Bridge, but injuries to Terry and Cech are a concern for Mourinho
Student
student
News
<b>Rebecca Adlington</b>
<br />This, the first British swimmer to win two
Olympic gold medals in 100 years, is the eversmiling
face of the athletes who will, we're
confident, make us all proud at London 2012
peopleRebecca Adlington on 'nose surgery'
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Online Advertising Account Executive , St Pauls , London

£26K-30k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

Advertising Account Executive - Online, Central London

£25K-28k + Bonus, Private Medical Insurance, Company Pension: Charter Selectio...

NGO and Community Development in Cambodia

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: There are many small development projects in ...

Business, Marketing and Tourism Volunteer Projects

Unpaid: Kaya Responsible Travel: As part of an ongoing effort to support local...

Day In a Page

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home

It's not always fun in the sun: Moving abroad does not guarantee happiness

Brits who migrate to Costa del Sol more unhappy than those who stay at home
Migrants in Britain a decade on: They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire

Migrants in Britain a decade on

They came, they worked, they stayed in Lincolnshire
Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

Chris Addison on swapping politics for pillow talk

The 'Thick of It' favourite thinks the romcom is an 'awful genre'. So why is he happy with a starring role in Sky Living's new Lake District-set series 'Trying Again'?
Why musicians play into their old age

Why musicians play into their old age

Nick Hasted looks at how they are driven by a burning desire to keep on entertaining fans despite risking ridicule
How can you tell a gentleman?

How can you tell a gentleman?

A list of public figures with gallant attributes by Country Life magazine throws a fascinating light on what it means to be a gentleman in the modern world
Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

Pet a porter: posh pet pampering

The duo behind Asos and Achica have launched a new venture offering haute couture to help make furry companions fashionable
A History of the First World War in 100 moments: The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire

A History of the First World War in 100 moments

The mutiny that sent a ripple of fear through the Empire
Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Hot stuff: 10 best kettles

Celebrate St George’s Day with a nice cup of tea. Now you just need to get the water boiled
Sam Wallace: Why Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term

Sam Wallace

Why Ryan Giggs is perfect fit as Manchester United boss... in the longer term
Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Renaud Lavillenie: The sky's the limit for this pole vaulter's ambitions

Having smashed Sergei Bubka's 21-year-old record, the French phenomenon tells Simon Turnbull he can go higher
Through the screen: British Pathé opens its archives

Through the screen

British Pathé opens its archives
The man behind the papier mâché mask

Frank Sidebottom

The man behind the papier mâché mask
Chris Marker: Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Mystic film-maker with a Midas touch

Chris Marker retrospective is a revelation
Boston runs again: Thousands take to the streets for marathon as city honours dead and injured of last year's bombing

Boston runs again

Thousands of runners take to the streets as city honours dead of last year
40 years of fostering and still holding the babies (and with no plans to retire)

40 years of fostering and holding the babies

In their seventies and still working as specialist foster parents