As someone who listens to talkSPORT for 8 hours a day at work most days, news coming from the station today has shocked and saddened me.
I was confronted with the Collymore news first. I should say at this point that I am a graduate with a first class honours degree in Radio Production, so I feel more than qualified to have my say on these sorts of things. The daily email update from RadioToday came through at about 11am with the headline “Stan Collymore exits talkSPORT after 8 years”. My initial response was one of disbelief. I have not always agreed with what Stan has to say, nor have I always enjoyed listening to his commentary, but for the most part, he was a talented, passionate and opinionated broadcaster for whom I had utmost respect. Of course, Stan lives just down the road from where I sit writing this now, and to look out for a local lad is only natural. It’s not too often one can hear somebody from the Cannock area on national radio. Even less likely now.
Over the past 8 years, Collymore has had various presenting jobs at the station and has, in my opinion, done justice to all of them. From somebody who read the art form of radio at university and has struggled to break into the industry ever since, I took heart from the fact that Stan gave his all for the job and portrayed a genuine love for the medium.
Of course Stan wasn’t perfect, sometimes his commentary was a little inflammatory, sometimes his emotion got the better of him and he lost his cool, but that’s what talkSPORT offers. It’s not the BBC, where composure and impartiality are king. I’m not saying the BBC’s model is wrong, merely that talkSPORT always offered something different. It was often the inflammation Stan caused that gave his shows the impact and success that they had, in much the same way Adrian Durham has built his reputation.
And so I went about the rest of my day. I was confronted a few hours later with a news story from the Facebook page of The Guardian. “Colin Murray quits talkSPORT after takeover by Sun owner”. I nearly fell to the floor. TWO IN ONE DAY!
I have followed the career of Colin Murray for a number of years, starting at BBC Radio 1 and his partnership with Edith Bowman. I watched him present football on Channel 5, and move to BBC 5 Live to present ‘Fighting Talk’. I even went with a few mates to a live production of said ‘Fighting Talk’, when it had one of its ‘Big Days Out’, at the formerly named Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. Seeing that show live was wonderful, so funny and hugely entertaining. But seeing Colin head-bang to the Northern Irish band Ash on the touch-line of the pitch was hilarious. And so onto talkSPORT, where his mid-morning slot seemed to fit his style perfectly. Colin quite clearly has a massive soft spot for two things in his life, music and sport. What better way to live your life than combining the two and getting paid for it.
Like with Stan, I don’t always agree with Colin and often find myself getting frustrated listening to his show. I find it hard to listen to the radio without critiquing it, and Colin sometimes gives me a twitch, especially if Liverpool have played the previous night. But for the majority of the time I love listening to his show. The values that Colin holds come across in what he says and how he does things. He’s fair and he’s just, if something is wrong, you can always count on Colin to call it. That is shown in his choice of co-presenters too. People such as Didi Hamann and Stuart Pearce, guys who tell it like it is and will never apologise for that.
It is for these reasons that I felt myself feeling quite proud of Mr Murray tonight. I don’t know him, I’ve never even spoken to him, but I feel proud that he had the balls to stand up for what he believes in and put his hugely successful show on the line. I won’t be dragged into his specific reasons for the move, if you want to read the article I have referred to the link is at the bottom of this post. It is obvious why he has chosen to take the decision he has, and I admire him for it. I joke, sometimes, that his show couldn’t be any more biased in Liverpool FC’s favour, even if it were broadcast from the radio tower in Liverpool city centre. But to make the decision he has made takes guts, morality, honesty and courage. Well done Colin. Good on you. I applaud the decision.
So talkSPORT is going to be a different place moving forward. Yes it’s only two men from a station of hundreds. And yes there are ready replacements queueing up to fill Colin and Stan’s shoes. But today was still a shock, and one that will be felt for a few days more. I wish them both all the best, and I’m certain that neither of them will be out of work for very long.