It was announced today that self-professed “saviour of Radio 1” Chris Moyles is stepping down as the host of the station’s Breakfast Show, a post he has held since January of 2004. Moyles’ early-morning show is the longest-running show in Radio 1’s history, but it is sadly coming to an end in September of this year.
I like Chris Moyles. I have done ever since I first inadvertently discovered him by tuning in my radio to our local station at 10pm one night when I was a teenager. I was enraptured by his irreverent humour and continued listening long into the night. I was accustomed to DJs on said local station being characterless, personality-devoid track title reading machines, so to hear someone actually acting like a human being — taking the piss out of the music he was playing, having light-hearted jabs at callers and taking an irreverent (though never offensive) approach to reviewing the day’s happenings — was something of a revelation.
I was delighted when, a number of years later, I rediscovered Moyles on Radio 1. I hadn’t followed his career after I stopped listening to the radio regularly, so I had no idea what he had been up to in the interim. But having him back on my stereo entertaining me in the mornings as I endured a lengthy commute to a job I hated was a bright spot in an otherwise fairly dark part of my life. The chemistry he had with his team was excellent, and the fast pace of the show was just the thing I needed to wake me up in the morning. Some criticised him for “talking too much” but I actually preferred listening to the team’s light-hearted banter to the musical monstrosities that make up the majority of Radio 1’s playlists.
At some point, it became fashionable to hate on Moyles. This happens with certain comedians, usually once they have reached a certain level of fame and ubiquity. Recently, it’s happened with Peter Kay (everyone loved him for a while, around the time of Phoenix Nights, then suddenly everyone hated him), Michael McIntyre (who appeared semi-regularly on shows such as Mock the Week for a while before everyone arbitrarily decided that he was no longer Flavour of the Month) and, as I say, Moyles, who is most frequently criticised for being egotistical and arrogant.
Moyles’ “persona” certainly has a large ego and a degree of arrogance, but it’s important to note that it is a persona — it’s a character he plays, a mask he puts up to the public. It’s the act he’s always done, ever since I first heard him on that late night local radio show, and I’ve always found it entertaining, because it’s abundantly clear to anyone who listens that all the self-aggrandisement is done with a knowing wink to the listener. Moyles was well aware that his ego and arrogance seemed ill-placed — he knew he wasn’t the most attractive guy in the world, that his occasional beard made him looked like a tramp and that he was overweight — so he played it up deliberately to an absurd degree. Some people took that literally, however. Understandable, but inaccurate. When he needed to be, Moyles could be genuine and heartfelt, and some of his most memorable moments on radio came when he was at his most earnest and honest.
It’s for these reasons that I’ll miss listening to Chris Moyles on the radio. Granted, I haven’t had the Breakfast Show on for a while now — I tend to get up a bit late for it these days, and I don’t have a clock radio by my bed any more — but Moyles and the team were very much a fixture in my life for a considerable amount of time, and I’ll be sorry to see them go. I hope they find a new home somewhere else — Moyles is certainly well over the unofficial “age limit” to become a Radio 2 presenter!