The Sun turns its chutzpah into chat

Like its paper counterpart, the brand new radio offering from bestselling tabloid The Sun has divided opinion among PR professionals.

Sun Talk presenter Jon Gaunt (right) with David Cameron
Sun Talk presenter Jon Gaunt (right) with David Cameron

Fronted by controversial Sun columnist and former TalkSport presenter Jon Gaunt, the new venture aired for the first time on 22 April.

Most were impressed with the show. 'Sun Talk is the online equivalent of jumping into a black cab and hearing what the man on the street is really concerned with,' says Henry's House director Sam Oxley. 'It is doing what The Sun does best - stirring debate and leading the pack.'

However, the three-hour launch show was disappointing to some PROs. Eyndia Gopal, account director at consumer agency Chocolate Communications, says: 'On its first day it under-delivered. It was like an 80s theme show. I hope it is successful, but a clear direction will determine its fate.'

How it began

Sun Talk is the brain-child of The Sun's deputy editor Dominic Mohan and Gaunt, who claims it has 'the same fun, politics, columnists, experts and news The Sun has, but in audio and video'.

The launch show, available live on the site, as a pod/vodcast, and on smart phones, welcomed David Cameron in for a chat. Questions came from the public via phone, text and email. The high calibre guests will continue, with Joanna Lumley, Alistair McGowan and Shami Chakrabarti all lined up.

Liberty director Chakrabarti has had run-ins with Gaunt in the past, proving that Sun Talk is not afraid to create controversy. And the new station will answer to the Press Complaints Commission as its regulator. 'I believe content not regulated by Ofcom is the way forward,' says Gaunt.

PR opportunities are available through The Sun journalists, who will regularly feature. Travel editor Lisa Minot approached P&O Cruises for the launch show. Michele Andjel, P&O Cruises' in-house PRO, points out: 'Cruising is a top holiday choice for Sun readers.'

The Sun in audio form

All aspects of The Sun's editorial are covered, from agony aunt 'Dear' Deirdre Saunders and TV columnist Ally Ross, to sports writer Ian McGarry and Bizarre editor Gordon Smart. Gaunt stresses the venture is a unique effort. 'Up until now radio was run by the same clique of people, trained by the BBC and probably ex-car salesmen with sponges for brains. But when you work for the best paper in the world, you can break ground.'

Love it or hate it, PROs have seized the opportunity. Phil Savage, account executive at EdenCancan, has debt expert Mike Thomas lined up for the show: 'By appearing on Sun Talk early, we are benefiting from the new medium and its launch audiences.'

The Sun circulation 3,068,035 (ABC figures, 1 July-31 December 2008)
Sun Talk Weekdays from 10am-1pm
Unique users 21,248,552 (ABCe figures, March 2009)
Producer Sam.Gregory@

A minute with... Jon Gaunt, Presenter, Sun Talk

Presenter: Jon GauntWho will your listeners be?

Predominantly Sun readers. MySun, our social network, has a quarter of a million users that we are hoping will tune in. And all the thousands of listeners who have left that radio station whose name I cannot remember.

What relationship do you have with PROs?

We haven't really chased that aspect too much yet, so are open to offers. Pitch all ideas to myself or editor Sam Gregory. I have two words of advice - compelling content.

What is the future for Sun Talk?

We are hoping to extend the live hours each day. Digital music is the way forward, I am surprised no newspaper has done it before. Kids don't listen to Radio 1 any more - I think it's funny that it is rumoured presenter Chris Moyles is about to be axed. Young people get their music on the internet now. If you were a fan of Albanian folk music, you would not listen to a month of two people ringing up a 78-year-old man just to hear that one folk documentary; you would go on the internet.

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