By Arthur Perkins
Shout! Communications recently held a Small Talk with BBC Radio 2 sports presenter and reporter, Matt Williams. Matt presents the sport on the Sony Award-winning Simon Mayo Drivetime show on BBC Radio 2. The show regularly reaches around 6.5 million people every week.
As well as being part of the highly popular Confessions slot, Matt invites sporting guests onto the show. Previous guests include Usain Bolt, Jessica Ennis-Hill, Lewis Hamilton and Stuart Broad. Before working for Radio 2, Matt was the sport presenter on Radio Five Live’s Breakfast programme presenting from the Olympics in Beijing, the FIFA World Cup in Germany and several Champions League finals.
As part of his role on the Simon Mayo Drivetime show, Matt has three slots: two of which are sports round ups and bulletins, the other is his daily guest slot. The show as a whole runs from 5-7pm Monday to Friday, with the guest slot taking place Monday to Thursday at 6.45pm and lasting approximately three to four minutes.
In terms of the type of guests Matt takes, it is incredibly varied. Obviously if your client has Usain Bolt or David Beckham, it goes without saying that Matt is going to be very receptive to having them on the show. But he stressed that he is completely open to whoever he may take from the whole sphere of sport. Nobody is too niche or from a sport deemed not important enough, they just have to have a great story. No weight is put on any particular sport and certainly not favoured; he says that in fact football guests tend not to be the best for his show. Radio 2 listeners in particular seem to enjoy guests connected with cycling and tennis.
Matt said to note that the guest has to be the sportsperson themselves or their coach. He says the only time he would take a guest who may be a parent or similar, is when the story is so huge such as Olympic success. Even then there must be a good reason which is stopping him talking to the athlete themselves.
Matt also takes sports authors and he says he’s seen a rise in the popularity of women’s sport.
In regards to the actual interview on the Simon Mayo show, they very rarely take a guest down the line; guests generally have to go into the studio to do the interview. Matt says it is essential that the guest is available to be at New Broadcasting House in Central London by 6.30pm, ready to be briefed and live on the show at 6.45pm. Matt believes that having the guest present in the studio for the interview allows for better interaction between presenter and guest, making for a more engaging interview for listeners to enjoy. Ultimately this will benefit the return in PR as the guest will get more air time if they have made the effort to come in.
Audience engagement is crucial to the success of Matt’s show. The Simon Mayo Drivetime show has an incredibly high listenership, but also a dedicated one.
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