Case study: 5 live Drive

5 live Drive, Radio 5 live’s daily three hour news and current affairs programme, offers a mixture of what producer Lucy Grey refers to as “light and shade”, from heavy-weight news stories to lighter features to balance the show. Lucy explains how the show is brought together and how presenters Peter Allen and Anna Foster work together.

The briefing
As a producer, Lucy’s job is to brief the presenters and to see how both react to the stories. Typically, if one engages with it or has a more personal connection to the story, then he or she will take the story on. However Lucy admits she may sometimes play one presenter off against the other to argue the merits of a story.

Lead presenter Peter Allen is the first voice the audience hear, but he and co-presenter Anna Foster ‘flip flop’ through the running order, taking it in turns to lead on stories throughout the programme.

Two heads are better than one
In the studio, Lucy will always communicate with both presenters, even if she thinks her message might be irrelevant for one. For Lucy, the show is above all a collaboration, and two people focussing on something and working out the angle for a story can really help.

"If you think in terms of what a good conversation would involve, then you’ve got what a good presenter team have got." – Peter Allen

Making conversation
Not all presenters will choose to join in on each other’s interviews, but having two presenters with differing views can help make the conversation flow much better.

“You know when a partnership is working well if you’re not really thinking about it and it just feels nice,” Lucy sums up. “When you listen, you don’t really notice, you just feel like you’re listening to a conversation.”

Peter Allen agrees: "It’s as simple as that really. Radio is conversation.”