'It's got to be a mix of chat and music': Johnnie Walker on the magic of Drivetime

'It's got to be a mix of chat and music': Johnnie Walker on the magic of Drivetime

Almost as important as the Breakfast Show, the Drivetime slot on BBC Radio has featured some major broadcasters including Greg James and Chris Evans.

BBC Radio 2 is currently embroiled in a stand-off with sections of its Drivetime audience over the pairing of previous host Simon Mayo with Jo Whiley. Music Week’s inbox and Twitter feed has been inundated with negative feedback about the show following a robust defence of the duo by Lewis Carnie, head of Radio 2.

The station will doubtless be looking closely at its next RAJAR figures following the early results on the show. Whether or not any changes are required, for former host and Radio 2 mainstay Johnnie Walker the formula is pretty simple.

Speaking in the latest issue of Music Week, Walker said: “It’s got to be a mix of informative chat and music for people to drive home to, it’s almost a magazine show. There’s got to be more than just music.”

Walker was the presenter on Radio 2 from 1999 to 2006, until Chris Evans took over.

“I had a great seven years doing that show on Radio 2, that was very satisfying radio,” said Walker. “The idea was that Terry Wogan got everyone up in the morning and off to work, and I would then get them back home with - hopefully - a smile on their face.”

He added: “There was massive interaction. We were reaching quite a big audience, and I had this double act with sally Boazman. Nothing scripted, it was all spontaneous stuff but sometimes really funny. Sometimes I’d get emails from people saying they had got home and pulled into the drive, but ended up staying in the car because they had to listen to the end of it. I thought that was a good bit of feedback.”

In his Aftershow interview, Walker - who recently launched Radio 2's Rock Show - also described his role in helping Lou Reed salvage his solo career.

He said: “I remember I was interviewing him once and he said, ‘I left The Velvet Underground, release a solo album that didn’t do anything, my career was a bit in the dumper’. But he said some DJ in Europe started playing Walk On The Wild Side over and over. I said, ‘Yeah, you’re talking to him’.”

To read the full interview pick up the latest issue - or subscribers can click here. To subscribe and never miss a big industry story click here.


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