TalkSport coverage defies expectations

In a commercial radio landscape filled with bland pop music, talkSport is something of a rowdy maverick.

TalkSport presenter: Ian Wright
TalkSport presenter: Ian Wright

But the approach is paying off. The UK's only national commercial talk radio station is also the most popular commercial station for adults aged 15-44, according to the latest RAJAR figures.

The combination of sport-based banter and well known presenters such as Ian Wright, Alan Brazil and Stan Collymore has also secured talkSport the top commercial radio spot in the UK among men under 65.

But the station has also had its fair share of bad press. Last year presenters James Whale and Jon Gaunt were both sacked. Whale encouraged listeners to vote for Boris Johnson in the London mayoral elections, resulting in a £20,000 fine for the station. The abrasive Gaunt had to go after calling a London councillor a 'Nazi'. The latter has since claimed to have started legal action against the station, although at the time of going to press it had not received notification from Gaunt or his lawyers.

And just weeks ago Respect MP and presenter George Galloway was replaced for an edition of his Saturday night current affairs show after becoming involved in a pro-Palestinian rally. Producers said they wanted 'a more balanced view' for the show.

This level of controversy points to a station that is about much more than sport. Programme director Moz Dee says: 'Sport is our focus but it opens the door to many subjects.'

Presenters therefore need to encourage debate. 'It's talk-based radio and you need outspoken presenters,' agrees Matt Bourn, MD of Braben PR.

The presenters are also terrifyingly well-informed about all things sport. Mark Southern, senior account manager at Iris PR, says: 'If you're putting forward sports experts, they have to know their stuff.'

Bourn advises that spokespeople put forward for PR purposes must not only know sport inside out, but be able to run with the banter: 'You need to get your message across in a way that fits the atmosphere.'

It is not just sports stars who feature on talkSport, says Dee. 'Politicians want to be on the station because we can give them access to a constituency they find hard to talk to anywhere else. Movie stars and pop stars will also talk about their team.'

This means a range of opportunities for PROs, especially as the small team is regarded as good to work with.

Felicity Hardingham, senior account executive at Golden Goose PR, has had success approaching late-night presenter Ian Collins, who she says 'is up for trying different things' such as reviewing a dinosaur-themed golf course. Dinosaur golf may not be a traditional sport, but talkSport is not a traditional sports station.

Audience 2.31m a week
Frequency 1089/1053 AM
Contacts Production co-ordinator kay.townsend@talksport.co.uk

 

A minute with... Moz Dee, programme director, talkSport

Who listens to talkSport?

Men. Hardly a shocker, but I do get wound up by those who take a patronising view of our audience. Fifty-six per cent of our audience is ABC1. Sport is a great leveller and we have passionate people on air who know what they are talking about.

What makes a great item for talkSport?

We are always partial to an exclusive but anything that gives an insight - something we don't know about a person or an event. Our audience expects us to talk about the major sports stories, and it also expects us to give it access to major sports names and keep it well informed.

What should PROs avoid doing?

Press releases and unsolicited emails never really get the job done. What's the story? What can you give me that I can't get myself? I also don't enjoy talking to people who have no clue about my product. They chat away about theirs but haven't taken the time to listen and know our schedule.

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