In radio training a key acronym that I was taught and is still as pertinent two decades later is KISS; keep it simple stupid (or similar versions). The premise is obvious but often the best and most magical moments of radio are when things are kept to their simplest.
Back in October I attended the Arias, where the industry recognises some of that great radio from the past twelve months. Often the winners have just done the simple things well. Often though that is easier said than done. But a show that seems to always miss out on this kind of recognition is talkSPORT’s Hawksbee and Jacobs afternoon programme.
Paul Hawksbee and Andy Jacobs have been presenting on talkSPORT for almost 20 years, with a show that is always funny and engaging. But over the years, the quality of this programme has been disgracefully ignored by radio’s awards ceremonies. To keep making you laugh after all this time deserves great credit to Paul and Andy obviously, but also the various teams that have worked with them. Sometimes a little freshen up has been needed but the fundamentals have stayed the same.
And what does that mean? Well radio works best when you connect and to do that you have to be yourself. Paul and Andy have great chemistry. Like many successful duos in entertainment, their personalities dovetail perfectly. Paul is the quick witted one, while Andy plays the curmudgeon brilliantly (we know he’s not playing). The opening ten minutes of each show are always a giggle.
There is also the right amount of piss taking, bringing me to the much loved ‘clips of the week’ they do every Friday. I’ve written before about how commercial radio can often do things the BBC can’t. And this is a perfect example. Clips of the Week is a selection of newsreader gaffs, sport reporter mistakes and largely Alan Brazil or Mike Parry mispronunciations (Fishermen’s Blues is also a regular nominee). It’s always hilarious. Taking yourself too seriously is sadly an art form at the BBC and many presenters and shows would be better off for having the ability to laugh at yourself.
At the BBC can you imagine a programme collecting on air mess ups by the star names? There’d be a BBC policy paper detailing the outrage and unions would demand respect for the ‘talent’. At talkSPORT it’s received as it should; with the ability to laugh at yourself. It’s a favourite feature of my wife who falls well outside the target audience for the station. In fact she enjoys the whole show. As she put it herself, they don’t always talk about football but when they do it doesn’t have that familiar footy banter feel that can exclude people. The guests are often interestingly different and embrace the show’s style and humour.
And this brings me back to that acronym, KISS. Keeping things simple in radio is imperative, but that doesn’t mean taking no risks or being bland. And simple does not mean avoiding being clever or creative. Just remember not to over complicate and understand the audience and your talents’ best skills. Hawksbee and Jacobs have delivered quality radio based on this for two decades and deserve wider recognition for that. The categories at awards like the Arias (the Sonys as was) does not help but had this been a BBC show you can be sure the plaudits would be queuing up and the awards mounting up!