Why is radio hiring television presenters?

By James Martin
Posted 12 January 2015, 8.30am est

So Heart have today announced two new presenters for their regional breakfast shows, and both come from television backgrounds.

What is the big obsession with television presenters - particularly, but not exclusively, at Global? With so many genuine radio people out of work at the moment one wonders if television is now the new route into radio?


5 years ago


Radio is a very competitive market, especially at Breakfast, where there are lots of high quality choices. It is easier to hit the ground running with someone people know. Whether that's existing presenters moving slots (as we've seen at Capital Yorkshire at Breakfast) or by adding a relatively well known personality. It is v. difficult to generate trial - and make people switch from their existing breakfast choice - starting with someone non-listeners know is a good way to generate new cume.

Katy is someone the Heart audience grew up with, is pretty much perfectly on-brand and is also a talented presenter with good experience in radio as well as television.

In my experience, TV hosts often have a broader skill set than radio people. I think doing live TV is actually a tougher skill with often many more things to juggle than a music radio jock. With successful stations generating cross-media and visual content, having someone who can do that well is obviously a bonus too.

Like everything there isn't one way to win. However, I think adding a new, semi-famous host, with an already good relationship with the main presenter is an excellent choice for Heart.

5 years ago

Seen and noted your comments and do agree with some but not with all. I get it - with the need to recruit already established and well known television presenters but NOT all television presenters are good at presenting and a majority DON'T do LIVE television. Magic, Heart and Smooth are all following suit with recruiting celebs, however, you cant beat local knowledge, local experience from local professional radio presenters. I admit television personalities have been bouncing back and forth for years but not in this modern volume. I just hope commercial radio stations keep on recruiting the true and serious radio presenters in the future.

5 years ago

Matt's points are most salient; however, I have two beefs with TV presenters getting the radio gigs (beyond the one already mentioned about keeping trained radio folk out of work). One - they invariably don't tend to be very good, or very committed, or very in tune with the specific demographic targetted. Two - they see radio as an easy stopgap before receiving fresh TV work that will make them ditch the radio gig without a by your leave (see also actors and singers for this).

I hope the new lass at Heart is good, successful and committed. But every time someone who isn't radio through and through proves to be not so, it's another bad day for the industry, and for those who genuinely give a stuff about it.

5 years ago

Just who is the supposed tv presenter on Heart Kent covering Charlie O'Brien's maternity leave?

Unlike Katy Hill who is a respected broadcaster in her own right, it seems somebody who's probably done student tv or something along those lines has been given her big break on a market leading Global station.

5 years ago

Matthew -I concur your comments and well said. Basically the points you made are the truth.

5 years ago

@Matthew R: I think being good/in tune with the demo/commitment etc is more about the PD than the presenter. If that's the case then they've made a bad choice.

I listened, for the first time, to Mark Wright over New Year on Heart with very low expectations, but I thought he did a great job (better than that the radio pro that followed him). I think, on the whole, telly presenters with regular radio gigs are often a good addition.

I think you're right with your second point, radio does play second fiddle to TV. It's not unusual for their radio contracts to allow them extra time off if TV commitments arise. That's the nature of the profile and money in doing telly. Whilst it's a shame, I definitely don't blame them!

@Neil W I think the majority of TV bods on the radio are those that have done a lot of live.

I also think that TV types are still a massively small minority on the radio. I think the fact we remark upon them perhaps highlights how few there really are. How many local Hearts have them on - 1 or 2? There's a few on Smooth, Marvin on Capital, Lawrence Llewelyn Bowen on Classic, Johnny Vaughan on talkSPORT, a few weekenders on R2, no TV types on R1 etc.

5 years ago

This old chestnut.

It is often said to me (and I quite agree with it) that it is much easier for a radio presenter to do discos, cabaret and even DJ at nightclubs, than it is for a disco DJ (with no radio experience) to do a radio show. The radio presenter almost always has greater developed skills that allows him/her to fit into the alternative option of doing discos, cabarets. MC-ing etc and be able to put an great, entertaining performances and be able to engage the crowd, whereas your regular Dave Doubledecks can mumble and stumble through one song and another but he would sound out of his depth on the radio.

So, the theory that many TV presenters would also make for being really good radio presenters is a sound one, especially if the presenter who has found themselves doing a radio gig is also fairly well known to TV viewers and has the perfect face and voice for both gigs.

Pop stars and has-beens ..... however .... is another matter. I find this to be much more miss than hit. I thought Kim Wilde on Magic on Sunday mornings was pleasant ad engaging but when I heard Jason Donovan, I was utterly bored.

There is another thing, which I learned when I was running an online community station. Whenever I put "radio" people on air, i.e people who lived and breathed radio, carved their way into radio, always wanted to be on radio and had oodles of radio experience, for most of the time their links consisted of talking about the music they were playing, background info on the artists and wiki-like encyclopedic knowledge of the songs. They spoke about ordinary every day things much, much less. However when I put on regular Joe from the cafe down the road, who just fancied giving radio a try and had great communication skills, he would hardly talk about the music and would instead talk plenty about every day things, what was trending on Twitter, his life experiences, much more banter, much greater engagement with the audience and so on.

I think putting on radio pros has its rightful place - as does putting on someone who can talk about what is relevant to people's every day lives. If you have a radio pro who can do both - like Clyde 2 USED TO DO, then you're probably winning. However, if you have a radio pro whose job is to keep mentioning the station name and promote premium rate competitions, then (as the RAJARs suggest) you're on a slow decline to a sad end.

5 years ago

I think you make a good point there Art. Doing a disco and doing a radio show though are most definitely two different beasts. They require a similar skillset, but you have to apply those skills very, very differently.

5 years ago

Could it be:-

  1. They know how to present
  2. They're too ugly for TV


5 years ago


  1. Not necessarily - some are tragic.
  2. True

ha ha he he!

4 years, 7 months ago

A great example of radio creating a "video star" is Stephen Nolan and his team on BBC Radio Ulster/Foyle on weekdays. The Nolan team has one of the best radio phone in programmes in the UK & well in tune with local current affairs.
Stephen Nolan and his team now have an additional TV show on BBC One NI HD on Wednesday evenings. You can view it on Sky channel 953 (in other parts of the UK).
So radio can still create the video stars, even though some radio companies & BBC Radio 2 prefer their services to be celebrity led!

4 years, 7 months ago

I hate it when they recruit people who get enough exposure elsewhere. Katy Hill hasn't been on TV for some time, though, to my knowledge. However, I hate it when they just get endless has-been popstars like Emma Bunton to do a show, all pre-recording programmes to play endless pap.

Then again, I listen to a lot of shows on XFM, Smooth Radio, Real Radio XS (stupid renaming of Rock Radio) as well as the godawful Radio 2, and the number of regular presenters who chunter over the end of songs that have definitive endings... just makes me weep. If you're a presenter who does that, you really need to have a word with yourself.

4 years, 7 months ago

However, I hate it when they just get endless has-been popstars like Emma Bunton to do a show, all pre-recording programmes to play endless pap.

Emma Bunton co-presents five days per week of live breakfast shows on Heart London mind.

4 years, 7 months ago

One doing a live show. Give her an MBE!

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