Jon Gaunt launches talk2me radio

By James Cridland for
Posted 19 October 2015, 6.58am edt

A warm July day in West London, and I was early to see Jon Gaunt's new studios. I discover the trendiest, hippest coffee shop I've seen for a while, and pop in, to be given my flat white by a man with a hipster beard and tie-back hair double. I think to myself: Jon Gaunt, running a radio station. The only people brave enough to do that would be people with an army of lawyers.

Jon's broadcast history is an interesting one. The winner of three Sony Radio Academy awards, a columnist for The Sun and a daily show on talkSPORT. One day he compared a councillor to a Nazi (or, as he puts it, "stood up for kids in care and foster parents by declaring that a policy banning smokers from fostering was more Nazi than British"), talkSPORT swiftly sacked him, Ofcom ruled that talkSPORT was in breach (though didn't fine the station), and he became relatively unemployable. (His legal case against regulatory interference with political free speech is now before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.)

I make it to reception, and it turns out that Jon Gaunt has, in fact, got an army of lawyers at his radio station. He shares the building with a set of human rights lawyers. The very set, it turns out, who are representing him in Strasbourg.

Jon whisks me upstairs and starts showing me round his studios. He jokes that it's his hospital radio station: indeed, the building used to be a private A&E hospital, and contains an almost fully-equipped surgical theatre, as well as a large amount of green hospital curtains. The "Casualty Plus Centre", as it once was, has lain dormant since March 2007, and, when I saw it, was being fitted up as a radio station. A nicely set up main studio was already there when I looked around.

After making me a coffee, Jon sat down to tell me the plan behind his new radio station.

Jon became interested in podcasting after listening to Serial, and discovered Gimlet Media's Startup, which followed the launch of a new podcast network. He claims he spent his last £80 on a microphone to start podcasting from his spare room. Six months later, his podcasts have been downloaded over a million times, and the idea of talk2me radio was born.

The plan for the station is as a platform where speech broadcasters can have their say. talk2me radio starts with Jon Gaunt as the main broadcaster, but they'll be looking to expand with other broadcasters too.

Martin Howe, Jon's business partner, leant over and highlighted the importance of talk2me radio as a platform for free speech. He spoke eloquently about human rights. Freedom of speech, said Martin, is important for human rights. And well he should know: he sits on the board of Liberty, and worked on, among others, the recent Ghurka justice campaign with Joanna Lumley. He pointed out how important it was to keep talking. "We will offend," he said, "but we won't be offensive. Nobody has a right not to be offended," he adds.

Jon jumps in. "The only thing you can be sacked for, on talk2me radio, is for playing devil's advocate." This is a dramatic difference from current broadcasting, particularly from the BBC, where a presenter's job is to be devil's advocate and to argue the opposing, balancing, view. "We want a cleverer debate than that".

We then go, slightly bizarrely, upstairs to the roof. Thankfully, Jon wasn't going to throw me off; instead, he was showing me the large advertising billboards on the roof. If you've a building next to the M4, it's worthwhile using every asset available.

talk2me radio, while live between 10.00am and 1.00pm, sees itself not as a linear radio station; rather a platform for free speech. "Podcasts are at the heart of it," said Jon, and discussed how he'd rethought the production process. He's producing shows with segments that mean that you can easily produce a variety of different podcasts out of one programme. This is music to my ears: I've been talking about reevaluating the primacy of live for a while now, and it's great to see broadcasters thinking about how this can work. Jon's hired Nick Margerisson as a producer: a clever hiring, since Nick's also a well-known podcaster and social media user.

talk2me radio went on-air this morning at just after 10.00am. Initial technical teething issues quickly righted themselves, and - for the first time in some time - Jon was able to take live calls on his programme. A fast-paced first hour, with a surprising amount of calls. "Gaunty" might not be your cup of tea; but the station is a welcome addition to the radio landscape in the UK. Take a listen.

Press release

This radio revolution started in the bedroom and will not be televised!

How do you go from having a radio audience of a million and a column in Britain’s biggest selling newspaper to producing a podcast in your boxer shorts in the spare bedroom? Easy, you call a councilor a Nazi.

Jon Gaunt had it all: a column in the Sun, a million people listening every day on Talksport, 3 Sony awards and he was never off the TV as a social commentator and pundit.

HE LOST THE LOT and his big house in the country, in the aftermath of standing up for kids in care and foster parents by declaring that a policy banning smokers from fostering was more Nazi than British. He said that kids were in more danger in residential homes than they would ever be from passive smoking.

He was sacked by talkSPORT and sanctioned by Ofcom. His legal case against regulatory interference with political free speech is now before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Jon was in the radio wilderness until, nagged by his wife and daughters, he spent literally his last eighty quid on a microphone and started podcasting on a daily basis about his life intertwined with his views on the news. Six months later Jon’s podcasts have had over a million downloads. This success has now attracted hundreds of thousands of pounds in investment for Jon to open his own unregulated free speech, sports, news and entertainment talk radio station, Talk2Me radio.

Jon has teamed up with leading Human Rights Lawyer, Martin Howe, to open state of the art radio and podcast studios in the West of London, well Brentford to be exact!

The Monday to Friday show goes live at 10 am on Monday 19 October. Jon’s three hour show will be available instantly on his bespoke App, ‘Talk2Me Radio’ and will also be available the same day as a podcast.

Unregulated and uncensored and free from the dead hand of quango’s like Ofcom the show and the station gives a voice to those who have been denied real access to the political and news agenda.

Gaunty says “We will not be deliberately offensive by childishly swearing but no doubt some of our opinions will offend however no one has the right not to be offended.”

Martin Howe says “free speech is the universal bedrock of human rights; it is at the very heart of our democratic values. At a time of national and international conflict it is critical to keep talking and to keep lines of debate open. Everyone’s opinion matters, even if it offends, and it is better to have the debate out in the open than allowing attitudes to fester and become entrenched”

Gaunty will have other presenters both from the left and right of politics to join him in this radio revolution and together they will truly create the Home of Free Speech.

More information

James Cridland — James runs, and is a radio futurologist: a consultant, writer and public speaker who concentrates on the effect that new platforms and technology are having on the radio business. He also publishes a free daily newsletter about podcasting, Podnews, and a weekly radio trends newsletter.


5 years, 3 months ago

Love this Man here ally stirs things up in the best possible interests of those he champions. Love his style and my x husband will be delighted to know he is back on air. He always sat there agreeing caithness all you said singer's two fans who wish you every success with your radio programme keep speaking for what you believe

5 years, 3 months ago

This Talk2MeRadio is nothing more than a vanity project for Jon Gaunt, and frankly, we don't need to feed the ego.

5 years, 3 months ago

To be fair to Jon I enjoyed the first series of podcasts, but his obsession with Lord Janner in particular put me off - and now he's dead legally he's up there with Jimmy Savile in terms of "open season."

That said, he's a great talk show host frozen out of mainstream because his face doesn't fit with the politics.

Sadly, nobody listens to Internet radio.

5 years, 3 months ago

His face doesn't fit with the politics? The guy's an extremist, he's as biased as Nick Ferrari, little to no difference at all. His only difference was fighting Ofcom when he called someone a "nazi" and an "ignorant pig" live on air. TalkSport did what they felt was right and fired him.

It's not hard to see why he was fired, he tried to go beyond the accepted limits, and you can't do that.

5 years, 2 months ago

Ian - I can think of others with a bigger ego.

Also, Chris Moyles got castigated on Radio 1 for calling one of his female studio bods a "dog" in a nasty tone of voice. Sadly, he seems to be encouraged.

James M - his podcasts have had a million downloads, so someone must be listening to internet radio. Whether he's making money out of it, I don't know, but you've gotta try.

5 years, 2 months ago

Dom Robinson, I didn't actually talk about his ego, I said he was as biased as Nick Ferrari. He does have a big ego, and let's be honest here, you do need to have at least a little bit of ego to actually be successful in radio, but there are people with bigger egos out there, both in music radio and talk radio. Most of them I can't stand listening to, because of their ego.

5 years, 2 months ago

Podcasts and live Internet radio aren't one and the same Dom.

I imagine even Radio X has only around 100 people, 150 max, listening online at breakfast.

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