MEDIA: CAPITAL FM BREAKFAST SHOW - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Capital FM will have a hard job finding somebody to fill Chris Tarrant's shoes

Oh, here we go again. Chris Tarrant is leaving the Capital FM Breakfast Show. And this time he means it. I'm sure he does. After all, his phenomenal success hosting Who Wants to be a Millionaire? must have made him richer than all the contestants put together. He is 56 years old. Why on earth would he want to get up at 4.30 every morning to sit playing Gareth Gates records?

The answer is that he, or rather his employers, have no choice. Tarrant is the only reason many listeners and, therefore, many advertisers even bother with Capital so, from the station's point of view, he is a priceless asset. Though not because he is so good, more because the alternatives are so bad. Who, in Capital's current line-up, could replace him?

Tarrant's usual deputy, Neil Fox, isn't really up to it. If he were, he'd have taken over years ago. "Foxy seems like a nice enough bloke but he's gone so far down the "Smashie & Nicey route that he is now just a pipe and a beard away from actually becoming Dave Lee Travis. The others don't even merit a mention. If we assume that the Capital group employs its top talent on the flagship London station, can you imagine what its other presenters must be like?

So Capital's bosses will have to cast their net beyond Leicester Square.

They'd need to pull in a very big fish; a talented and established radio presenter with a nationally recognised voice. Anything less would be seen as a come-down. Can you think of anyone?

The only names that I could come up with were Jonathan Ross, Danny Baker or Mark Lamarr. To imagine, however, that any of these brilliant broadcasters would be willing to subjugate their hugely original, freewheeling styles into the now very dated 95.8 Capital FM mandatory format is absurd. It would be like Ronaldo signing for Rotherham.

Capital is in a mess and only has itself to blame. While the BBC has invested in talented broadcasters and given them a pretty free rein, Capital's programmers simply haven't moved with the times.

They've been pedalling the same tired-old formula since the late 80s and have hired themselves a roster of undistinguished and indistinguishable DJs, not one of whom is good enough to take over the Breakfast Show.

All of which leaves Tarrant, once again, in a very strong position. If they offer him yet another lucrative contract, he shouldn't need to "phone a friend". He should opt instead to "ask the audience and point out that, if he leaves, there is unlikely to be one.

Broadcaster: Capital Radio
Frequency: Monday to Friday, 6am to 10am
Audience: 1.8 million
Advertisers include: O2 (travel report sponsor), T-Mobile, Diet Coke,
Evening Standard, Ascot Racecourse

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