'A positive start to the day that isn't just fluff': Lauren Laverne on her new 6 Music breakfast show

Lauren Laverne

Lauren Laverne has been revealing all about her new BBC Radio 6 Music breakfast show as she prepares for the station’s revamped 2019 schedule.

Laverne – who stars on the cover of the current issue of Music Week – will debut on the flagship show on January 7 and both her station bosses and the music industry expect her to raise the station’s profile and have a big impact as a tastemaker.

Laverne has presented at breakfast before, at Xfm (now Radio X) in the Noughties, but will take on a much-changed landscape this time around with new, or relatively new, hosts also in place at Radio 1 (Greg James), Radio 2 (Zoe Ball), Absolute (Dave Berry), Kiss (Tom Green and Daisy Maskell) and Virgin Radio (Chris Evans).

With the breakfast battle set to dominate the airwaves next year, Laverne – who hosted the Music Week Awards in 2017 and 2018 – took time out from preparing for the new show to talk new music, Smashie and Nicey and why Zoe Ball is the nicest person in radio…

How are you feeling about the new show?

“I’m looking forward to it immensely. It’s nice that it’s the New Year evolution of the station rather than something completely radical. I like the idea that we’re doing it together. It’s a very social station so it’s nice that it’s a group endeavour. As for the breakfast show itself, I’m really excited. It’s such an interesting brief and you so rarely get to start a new programme, let alone a breakfast show, and think about all the questions that we’ve been asking ourselves: ‘How do you want to wake up, what do people need at that point in the day?’ Everyone’s lives are hectic, the news is pretty grim, people feel there’s an information overload and not all of it is conducive to starting your day in the best mindset. So what are we going to offer listeners? All of that has been really interesting and engaging.”

Have you answered those questions?

“Oh yes! Of course! Imagine if I was like, ‘No, no idea – I’m going to make it up’. (Laughs) As always, the best approach is to have a general direction in mind and have an idea of the tone and, in my experience, once you’ve got that, whether the show is speech or music radio or whatever, you’re usually fine. We’ve got lots of ideas but that’s how radio works, it’s a form of collaboration with the audience and [it’s about] what they’re interested in and how they respond. Music will be at the heart of it. What I offer on my morning show is that music curation, that sense of building a mix. Doing a version of that at breakfast is a really interesting challenge, it’s something different, there’s not a lot of that kind of thing out there. I’m quite interested in how we have a start to the day that feels positive but isn’t just fluff. Something that is interesting but isn’t just candy floss. We want to be positive, constructive but interesting and with actual content in there, the kind of thing you might hear and then tell a mate about later that day. As always with 6 Music, it starts with the music and it’s about getting that right, so we’re putting a lot of our time and emotion into that.”

Will you be able to play the same eclectic music mix at breakfast as you do in your current show?

“My current show is at a less hectic time of day, people have usually settled where they’re going to settle for that bit of the day, so you can let things breathe a bit more. Breakfast is tighter and maybe it’s going to have more of a focus on A-sides than album tracks. But we’ll be bringing breadth and diversity and new music and fantastic old music that you maybe haven’t discovered yet, or need to listen to it again. We’re trying to bring that breadth, but sharpen it up a bit just because of the time of day and the fact that most of our listeners are going to be getting up, getting out the door and meeting the demands of their busy lives.”

You’re not the typical breakfast show “personality”…

“We’re all just jocks though. I’m maybe not totally Smashie and Nicey but one of the interesting things about being a DJ is, you have to make peace with the fact that you’re basically are them. We’re all Alan Partridge, we all have that side to us to want to sit in a room where you can’t see anyone but just show off and play records. You want to show off but in private, that takes a particular kind of person. Actually, I’m really proud to be part of that group.”

What do you think of the talent you’ll be up against?

“Zoe Ball, I just absolutely adore and have known for a very long time. The first time I ever got a big radio job was taking over from her on Xfm. I remember getting home to my grotty flat and finding this fabulous bunch of flowers that probably cost as much as my month’s rent on my doorstep from her, saying congratulations. She has always been such a shining example of how to be successful and treat people well and be a joy to work with, I admire her hugely. And Chris Evans is just such a sensational broadcaster. I’ve worked with him a few times and loved the experience. He has a really unique gift for creating an atmosphere and creating a club with his listeners, where you feel like you’re there with him.”

* For the full story on 6 Music’s revamp, featuring interviews with Laverne, 6 Music head Paul Rodgers, head of music Jeff Smith and presenters Shaun Keaveny, Mary Anne Hobbs and Stuart Maconie, see the current issue of Music Week, or click here, here, here and here. To subscribe and never miss a vital music biz story, click here.

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