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I recently read a review about the poor performance of Radio 1s breakfast show and, as I was reading, I found myself smiling and thinking that the reviewer should try my local radio station, 2CRFM (which stands for 2 Counties Radio - meaning Dorset & Hampshire).
I started listening to their breakfast show several years ago when Graham Mack was the presenter. I found him to be totally spellbinding and he just didnt care what he said or did. His side-kick was called Richie and Graham made Richie dress up as a chicken and called him the The Travel Chicken. Richie always had to perform various stunts and it was really hilarious. Just the jolt I needed to start my day!
Unfortunately, one morning when I switched on my radio at 06.15 Graham Mack wasnt presenting. All the stand-in presenter would say was that Graham had said something he shouldnt have and that he couldnt tell the listeners the exact circumstances of Grahams departure for legal reasons.
Gone, in the click of the fingers, gone.
I think Graham then travelled around the country presenting for various radio stations but he was really missed by his listeners in Dorset and Hampshire.
2CRFM then had a series of presenters who were pretty naff. In fact, so boring that I defected to Radio 1 which I didnt particularly like but it was better than 2CRFM at that time.
Anyhow, last year I decided to listen to my local station again and thought I would give it another go. The early morning shows were pretty boring until one day , earlier this year, I switched on the radio and whose voices should I hear but Grahams (and Richies).
Graham Mack was back! Fantastic! Getting up for work would be great again!
I was astounded to hear Graham informing his listeners that not only was he back presenting the breakfast show with Richie (who had remained at the station since Grahams departure) but that Graham was also in charge of the station!
What a turnaround!
But what a great pleasure to have someone back on the radio who said what he thought and, in Grahams words, doesnt give a rats arse about it.
He apparently got the sack a couple of times from other stations for being forthright with his views something akin to James Wales springs to mind.
Mornings are now a lot more fun. Graham and Richie have made sure of that! They do put a lot of effort into the show although they do say that it is not work, they get paid for having fun. But isnt it nice to have a fun job and get paid for it?
They make a fantastic team as they just seem to bounce off each other. I liken them to some of our great comics Morecambe & Wise, Canon & Ball etc. In fact, at times they can be so much funnier!
I dont just want to listen to music all the time on my radio, I want to have fun. I want to feel that the presenters and listeners are one big happy family who need each other. After all, without the listeners there would be no radio station and vice versa so we both need each other. Graham and Richie interact with the listeners so well and they really can get you hooked into listening. I want to listen to a show that will wake me up in the mornings, a show that has my undivided attention, a show that can be controversial at times, a show that isnt frightened to say what it thinks and a show that will stand up for peoples rights too, a show that isnt afraid to fight a battle. I want a show that compels me to listen to it the next day, and the day after, and the day after that.
Graham Mack gives me that show.
The show now starts at 05.00 and finishes at 09.00. The team consists of: Graham Mack, Richie Firth, Surfy Chick Sal (Sally) and Andrea Licher (news reader).
Graham and Richie treat Sally and Andrea like their sisters, to the point that when Andrea started going out with Johnny (who lives in Norfolk), a man she met at a wedding, they gave her their expert guidance on the romance. Johnny was a real miser as he would only text Andrea, no phone calls, nothing. A date in London and that was it. Just text messages. Well, Graham took the piss out of Johnny Norfolk, as they nicknamed him, and eventually Andrea dumped him.
This event now led to Graham creating Love Idol male listeners could put themselves forward for a date with Andrea. Six contestants were finally chosen and brought into the studio and asked 3 questions each day by Graham, Richie and Andrea. Listeners voted one off each day until two were left. The runner up got to go on a date for an evening meal with Surfy Chick Sal too! The evening meal was donated by a local restaurant.
There is the usual morning contest called Newsagent of the Week whereby they ask their local newsagent, Tony from Madagascar, three questions which, surprise surprise, he usually gets right. They then phone another newsagent and ask them three questions. On Friday, the newsagent with the top answers goes head to head with Tony from Madagascar. Nail biting stuff! Tony usually wins. However, it is now hilarious as the mighty duo, Graham and Richie, try to get newsagents to play the game. The newsagents just dont bother to answer the phone or put the phone down as soon as they hear Grahams voice. It can be quite funny to listen to.
They also regularly do a spot called Graham Mack Pays Your Bills which is very good. They find a sponsor to foot the bills. Listeners have to fax their bills to Graham and Richie picks one out and then reads out the bill and the name of the sender. The sender then has approximately 45 minutes to ring the station to claim the money. If they ring, then Graham stamps the bill as paid and has a little chat with the listener.
Let me tell you a story . I was driving to work earlier this year, happily listening to Graham Mack Pays Your Bills. He reads out an email and Im smiling thinking that sounds just like my daughter ha, ha, ha, ha. Goodness, I thought, if I didnt know better Id think it was her. He comes to read out the name of the person and I am in deep shock, he reads out my daughters name. I was mortified! As soon as I arrived at work (luckily my boss wasnt in at this particular time) I telephoned her furiously and wanting her to say it wasnt her. She denied it at first but then owned up so I told her well, its done now its been broadcast over the radio so you may as well ring up and claim the money. But I did tell her to be very careful what she said to Graham because he does play the conversation over the radio, warts and all! So, he stamped her bill and paid her the money.
Now Graham loves to get freebies from his listeners. The breakfast crew get morning sandwiches brought to them from Binnies Café (or is it Binnies Baguettes & Café?) and he has a great rapport with his listeners and sponsors.
There are lots of events organised to raise money for charity. In fact, I attended last year. It was a black tie dinner dance and Graham and the team at 2CRFM raised approximately £38,000 for local charities. They held a Big Bang event on Saturday 6 November 2004 celebrating Bonfire Night in which £10,000 fireworks display was held and Graham Mack and the Binnies Blues Band played (Binnies sponsored the band). Graham had also made Surfy Chick Sal learn belly dancing each day and she performed on the Big Bang night. I saw Graham and Richie and the Blues Band on Sunday evening (21 November) when they were appearing on stage in Bournemouth Town Centre Square and switching the Christmas lights on. They were actually really quite good.
He is full of wit and so listeners who telephone him must know that their every word will be pounced upon and made fun of. But he makes fun of people in a good kind of way. He isnt malicious, just so very funny.
He regularly liaises with Jim and Alison from Monkey World to save Narie the chimp and through his endeavours listeners of the show sent hundreds of letters to the Thai Embassy in London to try and save Narie. Graham is not afraid to talk to people and he rang the Thai Embassy trying to speak to an official to find out what is happening with Naries rescue. Well, all I can tell you, is that it was very funny. But Graham does persevere and isnt put off by bad attitudes.
Its quite funny to listen to him really because on the one hand he is still the rebel presenter but on the other hand he has to be responsible as controller of the station. His head office regularly send him to seminars to improve his management skills and Graham reports back to his listeners with his verdict which is usually that the seminars are a load of old codswallop!
Another really amazing feature of the show is the ability of Richies golden retriever Boddington (Boddy for short) to predict the football game scores involving AFC Bournemouth (The Cherries). Richie records this event in his kitchen. Boddy, come he shouts (and his daughter Caitlin repeats it too and its so sweet to hear her). He puts some dog biscuits into a bowl (dog food kindly donated by Pampurred Pets) and you hear Boddy noisily eating the biscuits. Next, Richie asks Boddie how many goals AFC Bournemouth will score. Boddy barks the relevant number of goals (or not as the case may be). Then Richie asks Boddy the number of goals from the opposing team. Boddy will bark the number.
Let me tell you that Boddy has never been wrong!
Yes, the dog is always right and always predicts the correct outcome.
Now, listeners have started putting bets on the score and one particular listener won £2,000. I am even tempted to make a bet.
A brilliant feature last year was Christmas Dreams Come True which was sponsored by Ideal Mortgages and listeners had to send in their dreams for Christmas and Graham tried his best to make them come true.
Graham Mack is very much a people person but I think you either love him or hate him. He travelled extensively around Australia and New Zealand and gives the listeners an insight into his travels and also his everyday life so that you actually feel part of his life (and Richies!). He makes the whole show, and listeners, seem like one big happy family and surely it is an art for someone to be able to do this? To be able to get the ratings up high is an achievement and his show has been recognised and won an award (if I remember correctly). A local family who emigrated to Perth in Australia listen to his programme via their pc and sometimes telephone him too.
So, Graham (and Richie!) have brought sunshine into our otherwise dull mornings. Unfortunately, I am not able to listen to the whole of the show as I usually arrive at work by 08.30 so miss the last 30 minutes of the show.
I actually met Graham last year. I have to organise a company table for a yearly lunch event and whilst in reception standing holding a drink with some of the other ladies on my table, I saw Graham. I said to one of my colleagues Thats Graham Mack. Graham who she said obviously not one of his devoted followers! I became very bold and walked over to him and introduced myself and you know something? He seemed quite shy in private! He was smaller and slimmer than I had imagined him to be. However, he did look very tired but then so would any one of us if we had to keep getting up at 04.00 each day!
Graham and his team always sound so very energetic and make you want to waken up and start your day with a permanent smile on your face. Believe me, I am always smiling and laughing when listening to this breakfast show.
2CRFM have a fabulous website and you can also listen to them via the web. Check their website out www.musicradio2crfm.com. Its a lot of fun and has some hilarious video clips.
So, if you are bored with your normal breakfast hosts, then tune in to 2CRFM whether it is via your radio (if you can get the signal) or via your computer.
Make your mornings brighter! Listen to Graham Mack and Richie!