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New start for Gabby

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Richard Jackson | 10:58 UK time, Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Maybe I shouldn't say this - and we definitely shouldn't tell their agents - but we do ask an awful lot of our presenters.

Radio Five Live logoThis has struck home on Five Live Breakfast because Shelagh Fogarty is taking four weeks holiday (already dubbed her "gap month"). In her absence Gabby Logan has joined Nicky Campbell on the programme.

Now Gabby is a very experienced and able broadcaster. She's coped with all that live television can throw at her. So chatting on the radio is going to be a breeze, isn't it?

But it's not as simple as that, of course. And what struck me as we tried to talk her through the programme was the complexity of the technology we expect presenters to master. First of all there's the news production system (called ENPS) in which we create our running orders. Simple - just keep a different running order open for each of the three hours of the programme; navigate between the different items seamlessly while still talking on the radio, interviewing guests, quizzing reporters. The programme's all live of course, so there's no break in the action - no long taped items to take a breather or get your bearings.

Gabby LoganOh, and please also keep an eye on another window on your computer as text messages come into the programme. Easy. There are hundreds of them of course. They are on a whole range of subjects. And include views, opinions and words which often make your eyes water. The production team mark up the ones for broadcast - but it's still a lot to look at.

And don't forget the e-mails (yep, another window to keep open). They can be quite long and take some reading.

That's for starters. If you really want to be the complete Breakfast presenter, you might want to find the time to keep an eye on the Breakfast blog - and help brief yourself for interviews or react to things people say to you by doing some rapid online research. It's also helpful to glance at the TV screens in the studio - particularly when there's some live sport going on. As England's cricketers toil Down Under, a dramatic moment is never far away.

And we ask a presenter to get grips with all of this as well as ask perceptive, probing questions; brief themselves on a wide range of stories and issues; and bring out the best of contributors who may well be anxious about appearing on air.

All this of course before the sun has even come up. Gabby, being a pro, is playing a blinder of course. But I now know why Shelagh was so keen to have an extended lie down.


Thank you for telling us about this. I have often wondered about the mechanics of these programmes: while I'm sitting urging the radio "Ask him this! Ask him this!", what other pressures is the interviewer under? Is there a back room full of bright young things with a feed through to the interviewer, surfing Wikipedia and looking up academic papers, assembling questions and counter-points for the interviewer to use (and if so, how can I be one of them?)?

  • 2.
  • At 12:11 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

Remind us how much Logan is being paid to undertake these tasks?

  • 3.
  • At 01:08 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Jack Scribbs wrote:

To Richard who posted comment number 2:

"If she was being paid the same amount of money and doing it badly I'm sure you'd be keen to complain then too, so don't be so negative."

  • 4.
  • At 02:02 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Tom wrote:

All very interesting, but let's cut to the chase: when is Gabby going to be given Match Of The Day? A programme crying out for a total root and branch shake-up if ever there was one. Perhaps she start could lend some much-needed personality to Football Focus?

  • 5.
  • At 05:10 PM on 08 Feb 2007,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

To Jack (post 3) - I'm not being negative and please don't put words into my mouth. High salaries demand high ability. I cannot see that a modest amount of multi-tasking is worth such an adulatory blog entry.

But Jack, you miss the point: a quick read of these blogs shows that, like teacher and prime minister, the job of radio (and TV) presenter is one that every member of public knows they can do a lot better than any of the people who actually do it.

Until those pinkos at the Beeb get this, and put into practice immediately every suggestion made here, the whining will continue.

  • 7.
  • At 06:42 AM on 10 Feb 2007,
  • Richard Morris wrote:

I think Richard (Jackson) is in love!

  • 8.
  • At 09:46 AM on 10 Feb 2007,
  • Andrew Suffield wrote:

Frankly, as a software engineer I would describe this system as "poor". A well-designed system would not force the user to manually juggle half a dozen streams of data at a time when their attention is supposed to be on something else. The whole setup is in need of a careful rethink, paying attention to the actual needs of broadcasters rather than just throwing data at them and expecting them to do all the work.

It should not be like this.

  • 9.
  • At 11:36 AM on 10 Feb 2007,
  • Elizabeth wrote:

I think Gabby was dire this week. No more please. You must be able to find a real journalist at the BBC with experience in radio.

It must be an exhilarating job. And as you say, all this multi-tasking before the sun has come up... respect! I have trouble listening to the radio and popping the toast simultaneously at that hour.

  • 11.
  • At 06:11 PM on 11 Feb 2007,
  • shaun wrote:

i for one think that the beautiful Gabby is worth every penny

  • 12.
  • At 10:56 AM on 13 Feb 2007,
  • Peter Johnson wrote:

Until 5Live dump the self-regarding and loathesome Nicky Campbell, I'm afraid who turns up to run alongside him is really academic.
The majority of presenters across all forms of radio at least give the impression that they are offering a service to the listener. NC uses his programme to grandstand his ego.

  • 13.
  • At 04:36 PM on 15 Feb 2007,
  • Philippa, UK wrote:

Personally, I think Nicky should try guessing contributors star signs as he did when he was on R1 :D

He may be able to draw even more attention to himself that way.

Gabby is getting there - I'd like to see Helen Blaby get a break at the big time myself. I still recall Andrew Marr trying to do the morning phone-in and he really was dire and out of his depth completely.

So, there are no researcher elves that help the presenters to spot little text gems? Or write their scripts (that are often referred to) or producers who are little helpful voices in their heads ?

Blimey - so what are they are doing then ? :D

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