Blog Post

Small Talk with Times Radio

A friendly, warm tone with people who know what they’re talking about…..that’s how producer Poppy Bullard described the radio station that employs her, Times Radio. Poppy produces the mid-morning Matt Chorley show and was the speaker at our latest virtual Small Talk. It was a fascinating insight into the infant station, which launched just a few months ago, in June 2020. As heard by Shout! Communications joint Managing Director, Keren Haynes.

No matter what the channel, broadcast has a pecking order meaning some programmes will cherry pick what they consider to be the best stories of the day. On Times Radio it is breakfast and drivetime that get the big news of the day, and the ministers and big hitters who come out to talk about them. Other programmes therefore need to craft their content and offer something to complement them.

Matt Chorley has a long reputation as a political writer, for the Times and Sunday Times. No surprise then that his mid-morning programme on Times Radio keeps to his pet subject. There’s a big daily feature and if it’s not focused on politics it could well be something about policy or be a great back story. Former ministers or Prime Ministers often feature. The team like to interview people with the inside track.

Poppy’s comparison of the programme to Top Gear was a surprise, until she explained her team aims to do for politics what the TV show did for cars! It’s making a topic that can alienate people, popular with the masses, because the treatment is fun and entertaining.

A well known brand name can help and Innocent Smoothies, now owned by Cadbury’s is a recent example of that. But if your client is more obscure, you may get Poppy’s attention with a quirky spokesperson title. We were thrilled when, unprompted, she cited a Bingo Historian they interviewed recently – the spokesperson for one of our radio days!

Hearing her describe it, Poppy appears to really enjoy the “If I ruled the world” slot, which typically features a celebrity or someone like an author. This, she said, can be tied into a brand, as long as the brand mention is tied into other content. You’re not going to pull the wool over her eyes, but she’s realistic about the mutually beneficial way that journalists and PR professionals can work together, especially if you have a well known brand ambassador. Children’s presenters Dick and Dom appeared in this slot recently.

Like many stations, Friday and weekends have an appetite for lighter stories and features. Gloria de Piero steps in for the end of the week instead of Matt Chorley. Her Happy Hour, recently featuring Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell, focuses on positivity. I can think of some good PR stories for her!

When pitching a story for broadcast it’s critical to consider who the audience is, so you can tailor your story and spokespeople accordingly. Poppy says the audience for Times Radio is educated, interested in news and reads the papers. They’re relatively young – although I’d say older audiences, more typically listeners of Radio 4 and LBC, would like what they hear too.

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