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Reality TV stars should not be on the radio, says Steve Timmins

Why reality TV ‘characters’, ‘performers’ and ‘stars’ should NOT be on the radio!

An opinion by Steve Timmins, 107.6 Juice FM – @juicesteve

Arg on the Radio

This week I found out that James ‘Arg’ Argent from The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE) had landed a network radio show. As a professional Broadcaster, who has learned (and is STILL learning) his trade the long, hard way, I can honestly say that this news of Arg’s appointment deeply saddened me. So, I did what most people in today’s social network society do when they are annoyed with something… I took to Twitter to air my frustrations! I was then asked if I’d write my thoughts as a blog entry, so here goes.

Let me make it clear from the start that this is not a personal vendetta against James ‘Arg’ Argent. I have never met him, and wish him well in the future. However this doesn’t mean that I agree with his appointment. “Why so against it?” you might ask. “Why would it even bother you?” I’ll tell you exactly why it bothers me. It’s wrong. I say that not as someone who works in the radio industry, but someone who loves the medium of radio, someone who lives, breathes and sleeps it every single day. I’m not saying that you have to be a self-confessed radio ‘geek’ to land a job on air, I just know the difficulties that many people face actually landing that first on-air, behind the mic job.

I believe it was an episode of TOWIE (a few weeks back apparently) that showed ‘Arg’ taking to hospital radio. How many of us started out there? I know I did. It’s a great stomping ground and a great place to learn. Now, how many of us, weeks later, land a network show on commercial stations? Not many. Was it down to his incredible presenting skills demonstrated in a 2minute clip on TV? Or was it down to the fact that it’s ‘Arg’ from TOWIE we’ll get some good RAJAR figures for this?

Arg on the Radio

I think that the frustrating thing for me, is that I know how hard my path into radio was, the endless hours in whatever studios I could manage to gain access to, the countless rejection letters, the comments of ‘you’ll just never make it’ (which unfortunately people in this industry will and do dish out), I’ve made tea, handed out flyers, dressed up in scuba gear in town centres to give away cash, all in an effort to simply get my foot in the door.

Too many reality TV characters (I prefer ‘characters’ to ‘stars’) seem to think that being a radio presenter, or possibly the more popular career migration to Club DJ is a sensible route for them after their 15minutes of fame. I’ve been a Club DJ for the past 15 years, and it’s fair to say that in the past couple of years there’s been a massive influx of gigs boasting ‘see XXX guest DJ’ from ‘XXX reality show’ on the bright glossy posters adorning every available space in the City. The truth is that most of these ‘XXX guest DJ from XXX reality show’ either turn up for 20 minutes with a mixed CD and pretend to mix, or actually attempt to mix, and you cringe with embarrassment as it’s very apparent to both professional onlookers and revelers that they can’t. To a DJ who’s been in the game as long as I have, it’s a big slap in the face to your profession. People with no discernable talent, turn up to a club, pretend to work, then stand in a VIP area getting sozzled, get papped, while the ‘real’ DJ’s entertain the crowd, it’s all compounded by the fact that they are paid handsomely for it too.

I’m not saying that if you’re on the TV you can’t make the transition to radio successfully, that’s untrue, casing point, Radio 1, notably Fearne Cotton and Vernon Kay, both successful TV presenters, both now successful radio presenters, and there’s the key word ‘presenters’, it’s something that they already know how to do, and do well, the leap across the medium is not that far.

By contrast, a cast member from TOWIE who is not a presenter is clearly ousted when put in-front of a microphone. A pre-recorded show non-the-less, does that not say a lot in itself, I can see a PD’s mind working now;

“This will be great publicity for us, but there’s no way he’s doing it live, and we need to get a producer in with him” (so much for the confidence in him)

Is a quick hit on RAJAR figures worth the risk? Me personally, I don’t think that it is, reality TV shows are Marmite, and personally I know I’d flick the station rather than have to endure it. What kind of a society have we become that we adore these mediocre entertainment shows.

I hope this doesn’t come across as a jealous point of view, far from it, I love my job and my station, and I genuinely wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. I work as part of a great team and that’s a rare thing to find. I also shy from any kind of limelight, I don’t do my job for the celebrity interviews or showbiz parties. I just, well, love radio. That simple.

Radio is, has been and always will be a notoriously difficult industry to penetrate, the ones who truly love their craft, persevere and have a little bit of luck along the way will, and do make it. Failing that, you could always try and land yourself a role in a reality TV show!

The show runs across the following stations Southend Radio, Chelmsford Radio and Connect FM Peterborugh.

This guest post reflects personal opinion and not necessarily the views of Earshot Creative.