Media: Double Standards - 'Brand and Ross acted like dicks and got caught'

Neil Fox and Johnny Vaughan, two of commercial radio's biggest names, chat about 'Sachsgate', on-air gaffes and how they manage to get up in time for their breakfast shows.

NEIL FOX - PRESENTER, MORE MUSIC BREAKFAST SHOW, MAGIC 105.4

- What makes your show special?

It's a breakfast show on a music station that actually plays a lot of music. And we don't have a team of people pretending to laugh at things that aren't funny.

- How would you describe your style of presenting?

There's no doubt that when I came to Magic, I had to learn some new broadcasting skills (ie. word economy), but it has made me a better, more mature presenter. I've got three wonderful children now and being a father definitely helps me relate to my audience. I am on air who I am off air. Always have been, always will be.

- What's the key to getting people to open up and be entertaining on air?

Whether it's a superstar or a listener in a competition, you simply have to be honest with people, ask sensible questions and actually listen to their answers.

- Did you feel sorry for Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross over "Sachsgate"?

Not at all. They acted like a couple of dicks and got caught. But the BBC is also to blame for letting it go out on air ... it was pre-recorded, for God's sake!

- Have you ever said anything on air you've regretted?

Apart from occasional swear words, I've no regrets. I always try to engage brain before opening mouth.

- What's your approach towards advertising in and around your show?

With no advertising, there is no commercial radio, simple. I have always had a great relationship with advertisers and sponsors, and Magic works really hard with our advertisers and their creatives to make it work for all of us. And if you get it right, it can be a real result for the station, the advertiser and our listeners too.

- What's your top tip for getting up very early each morning?

A great alarm clock and *55 on my phone!

- What's good about working in radio as opposed to other media such as TV?

It's live, it's real and it's fun. You are an important part of millions of people's lives every day, too. And, of course, when you're getting up at 4.30am every day, you don't always look your best - but you can sound like you are!

JOHNNY VAUGHAN - PRESENTER, CAPITAL BREAKFAST SHOW, 95.8 CAPITAL FM

- What makes your show special?

It's live, reactive and pretty much unscripted every morning. We concentrate on what's happening in the present: hit music and the day's news - it simplifies life and creates a daily challenge. We don't decide what we are going to be doing next Wednesday; we wait for next Wednesday and see what the world throws up.

- How would you describe your style of presenting?

The five of us in the studio, the listeners who text us and call us, the music we play and, of course, the character of the station itself all work together to create the show's overall tone. If I was on my own, I'd probably describe my presenting style as "fast and spurious".

- What's the key to getting people to open up and be entertaining on air?

Whether it's a listener or an A-lister (word-play worthy of Closer magazine), the key thing to getting anyone to open up is not to put any pressure on them. You want to create an atmosphere of jovial familiarity. Keep it seemingly shallow. People don't reveal their secrets when you ask them a deeply personal question. They just put their guard up and either refuse to comment, laugh it off or "get sincere" and "open up" with some PR-approved shallow-intimate guff. If you can make guests and callers feel both charming and charmed - without the bitter tang of sycophancy - then you've hit the jackpot.

- Did you feel sorry for Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross over "Sachsgate"?

I felt sorry for everyone involved in the whole shambles, but mostly I just felt sorry that it got on air. What should have been a personal issue became a national issue, resulting in a general tightening of the guidelines for on-air taste and decency and a record fine from Ofcom - something I can never quite get my head around. I just don't understand who triumphs when the BBC pays a fine to Ofcom. Certainly not the viewing public. Certainly not the listening public. And certainly not Andrew Sachs next time he fills out a cheque to renew his TV licence fee.

- Have you ever said anything on air you've regretted?

Yes, every day, but if I had to think of a particularly regrettable gaffe, it would be when I made a misjudged joke about Victoria Beckham when she was doing a fashion-shoot outside the Ritz in Paris on the same day - coincidentally - that the jury for the Diana inquiry were there. One of those days when things come out wrong and you try to style it out, explain yourself and get back on track, but you just dig yourself in deeper.

- What's your approach towards advertising in and around your show?

I wouldn't be there without it. It is the hand that feeds, so my approach is that of the eager dog bounding towards his master to greet him with a wagging tail, yelps of excitement and glossy coat gleaming in the sunshine and getting a pat on the head and a big bowl of James Wellbeloved lamb and chicken kibble for his devotion and enthusiasm.

- What's your top tip for getting up very early each morning?

Having a wife who's a light sleeper and does kick-boxing and won't allow more than one press of the snooze button really helps.

- What's good about working in radio as opposed to other media such as TV?

I like to be live and spontaneous and I can only get that on radio. It's simply not there on TV. You don't have to get make-up or wardrobe, either, which is great. The other thing radio has got over TV is that it's genuinely a craft.

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